Opening Day is just eight days away! Who do you think of when you think of #8? Cal Ripken, of course! Cal Ripken, Jr., aka The Iron Man, is a Maryland legend and continues to give back to the community. Ripken is the recipient of several awards that speak to his commitment to the community as well as the sport of baseball. These include: Roberto Clemente Award (1992), Lou Gehrig Memorial Award (1992), Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year (1995), The Sporting News Sportsman of the Year (1995), Athlete of the Year (1995), Commissioner’s Historic Achievement Award (2001), Stan Musial Lifetime Achievement Award for Sportsmanship (2016).
Ripken has been associated with a variety of organizations and charities. For example, in 2007, he founded Athletes for Hope with several fellow athletes, including: Muhammad Ali, Tony Hawk, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Mario Lemieux, and Alonzo Mourning. The mission of the organization is, “To educate, encourage and assist athletes in their efforts to contribute to the community and charitable causes, to increase public awareness of those efforts, and to inspire others do to the same.”
Ripken is perhaps best known for forming the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation with his brother Bill in 2001. The mission of the Foundation is to help “build character and teach critical life lessons to at-risk young people living in America’s most distressed communities.” The organization builds parks, provides mentoring, and conducts camps and clinics across country. According to their website, in 2017 alone, the Foundation collaborated with 719 local partners in 582 cities in 43 states, Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico, to reach more than one million at-risk youth.
I’ve written previously about Bobble Mania and my Bobble Quests. Recently, however, minor league teams have added a new one: The Gnome Quest. This evening, the Bowie Baysox had a Manny Machado gnome giveaway for the first 1,000 fans. From the line outside the stadium more than an hour before the game started, it would appear it was a hit. (Yes, I was in that line.)
It’s not surprising, then, that we like to collect all things Manny. This year alone, the Baysox have had three Manny-related giveaways: the Manny Machado bobblehead, the Manny Machado t-shirt, and, now, the Manny Machado Garden Gnome.
Not only do baseball fans love giveaways, we love Machado giveaways. I think this video from the Bowie Baysox pretty much proves it:
The Smithsonian Institution is fascinated with baseball. It’s quite understandable. Many of us are as well. Baseball is, after all, the National Pastime. The Smithsonian Magazine has covered the subject of baseball extensively. The museums themselves have had several baseball exhibits, including a traveling and online exhibit on Roberto Clemente.
The other day I went to the National Portrait Gallery. I wasn’t expecting to see anything baseball-related, but I was pleasantly surprised. On the third floor mezzanine, the museum has an exhibit on sports champions. It has photographs, paintings, and sculptures of not only baseball greats but other famous athletes as well. My favorite, of course, was the Yogi Berra sculpture. Yogi always makes me smile.
The exhibit was sorely lacking in one thing – anything Cal Ripken-related. They are going to have to do something about that!
I’m in the market for a new car, so I guess I’ve been paying a little more attention to car commercials lately. I’ve noticed that baseball apparently is still used to sell cars. I’m sure most of us can hum the tune to the old Chevy jingle, “baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet.” Prince Fielder and Justin Verlander certainly can.
In fact, apparently Chevrolet has been the “Official Vehicle of Major League Baseball” since 2005. So I guess it makes sense, then, that Cal Ripken would still be doing Chevy commercials, too.
Some players, however, have ventured beyond Chevy. Kevin Youkilis appears to be an equal opportunity car salesman with his ad for the Herb Chambers company, which seems to sell pretty much everything. I’m sure there are a lot more ball players doing local commercials… Like, Stephen Strasburg trying to sell us a Toyota.
Unfortunately, not even Cal has inspired me to buy a car. Apparently, ball players don’t sell the cute, practical cars women want. I guess I’ll have to rely on other role models for car buying inspiration. I wonder what kind of car Effa Manley or the Fort Wayne Daisies would have tried to sell us…