Monday, July 30, 2007

Simply Pure...

Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken Jr. were inducted into the hall of fame yesterday in Cooperstown, New York. I could not imagine doing anything better in regards to sports on a rainy quiet Sunday than watching this historic induction. Not only are Gwynn and Ripken two of the best to ever play the game and do it with class and dignity they both played their entire careers with one organization. It was always odd to people that while growing up in New York Gwynn was my favorite player as a kid and remains my favorite athlete of all time, sharing that title with Larry Legend. Both players are the ultimate examples of how to go about being a professional athlete, or for that matter a professional in any sense. I think the attendance yesterday at Cooperstown supports my feeling, 70,000 people. That is 20,000 more then there has ever been at any induction ceremony.

While watching the ceremony it brought me back to a time when baseball and professional sports for that matter were in a different place. When you could watch a game without having corporate America stuffed down your throat at every opportunity. It was also a time when you did not suspect that a majority of the guys in the league were involved with steroids.

The accomplishments of both Gwynn and Ripken are startling to say the least.

Between Ripken’s consecutive games streak and Gwynn’s streak of .300 seasons and the way they conducted themselves throughout their careers makes me think we will never see the likes of two talents like this again in baseball or in any sport for that matter.

In a month where the controversial Barry Bonds is about to pass the great Henry Aaron, Michael Vick was indicted by the federal government and NBA referee Tim Donaghy has reportedly been involved in fixing games with his whistle, yesterdays Gwynn and Ripken induction could not have come at a better time.

I genuinely enjoyed the speeches given by both players. A few things Gwynn said will resonate with me forever. He talked about hard work and being a professional, and acknowledging that is what the expectations are supposed to be. He then followed that up with addressing the responsibility that you have as a professional when you put that uniform on in regards to your behavior on the field, in the clubhouse and as a member of the community. It was one of the best messages I have ever heard an athlete deliver.

To Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken Jr. thank you. Thank you for your contributions both on the diamond and in the community. You took full advantage of your opportunity and made world, not just the baseball world a better place. You can guarantee that they will both continue to do so.

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