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Thursday, October 4, 2001
Updated: October 5, 9:51 AM ET

Cal Ripken Jr.

Page 2 staff

Cal Ripken Jr. owns another amazing streak in his 21 seasons in the major leagues, and this streak is still going: He has never answered a question -- not one -- without giving it proper thought. He has never answered any questions spontaneously, then regretted having said what he said.

Cal Ripken
Cal Ripken Jr. will forever be remembered for "The Streak."
The same goes for Page 2's 10 Burning Questions, all of which received serious consideration.

1. Page 2: What was your wardrobe like on your first big-league road trip?
Ripken: I don't remember specifically, but I know we had a dress code. We didn't fly many charters, mostly commercial flights, so you had to wear a coat and tie. I remember my coat and tie being outdated, compared to many of my teammates. But at least I had a coat.

2. Have any of your home run balls ever been thrown back?
Ripken: I can't remember one, but I admire the loyalty of fans who throw balls back. As for retrieving balls of significance, like home run No. 100 or 200 or 300, I don't remember getting a ball back that wasn't hit in the bullpen. It's easy to get it back when you hit in the bullpen. But for balls anywhere else, I've had to trade. I've made several trades for home run balls.

3. What was your favorite heckle of all-time?
Cal Ripken
There have been plenty of at-bats in his 21-year career that Ripken would like to have back.
Ripken: I've been heckled plenty of times. I've been called a bum on the road and at home. I don't have a good memory for those things. Lately, I've gotten a few age heckles, you know, like, "Where's your cane?" and "You need a wheelchair."

4. What do you put in your VCR when it's 3 a.m., and you can't sleep?
Ripken: I'm too lazy to get up and put anything in the VCR. That's what a dish is for -- you can surf until you find something you like. I'll look until I find an action movie. I never put in anything in the VCR from me playing.

5. How many of your 3,000 hits do you actually remember?
Ripken: I don't have a specific number, but it's a big number. I can remember hits back to 1982 and '83. I can remember hits from high school, but my wife says I can't remember what day the garbage goes out.

Earl Weaver
Earl Weaver held some memorable clubhouse meetings during the early days of Ripken's career.
6. What was your most memorable clubhouse meeting?
Ripken: (Former Orioles manager) Earl (Weaver) had some memorable ones. His were very infrequent, maybe one a year. Once he came in and said, "We stink, we can't do this, we can't do that." Then he said, "But it's not your fault, it's my fault." And we'd think, "How is it your fault?" And Earl would say, "Well, I'm the guy who picked you guys." Also, EBW (former owner Edward Bennett Williams) had some memorable ones. After the first one, I was ready to go out and run through a wall. It was mesmerizing, very powerful, like we were in the courtroom, and we were the jury. But after you heard it four or five times, it lost some of its zest.

7. What was the first thing you bought with your first major-league paycheck?
Ripken: Clothes. I needed them just to get to some level of acceptance on the team. We had some really good dressers on our club. Dan Ford, for one, always looked clean.

8. Do you own your own rookie card?
Ripken: I own several. I just don't know where they are.

9. If you could take back one at-bat, which would it be?
Ripken: I'd like to take back about 5,000 of them. But if I had to choose one, I'd probably take the final at-bat at Memorial Stadium. I grounded into a double play to end the game. I would have liked to have hit a home run there. It was really hard to see at that time of that day. The shadows were across the field. I'd like to have done anything but hit into a double play.

10. What's your favorite thing a catcher or umpire said to you at home plate?
Ripken: Well, it wasn't something that was said to me, but something I witnessed at home plate. We were in New York for a doubleheader. (Orioles second baseman) Rich Dauer came back to the dugout and told Earl something that he'd heard the umpire say about him. So Earl went back to home plate to exchange lineup cards for the second game, and brought Dauer with him as a witness. Earl started screaming, and was ejected. Jimmy Evans, the umpire, took out his watch to time how long Earl's tantrum lasted. Earl grabbed Evans' watch and threw it into our dugout. It wound up under one of the benches. Evans went and found it. It was still working. Jimmy yelled to Earl, "Hey, it took a licking, and it keeps on ticking."