Cal Ripken Jr. Wants Tech to Modernize the 'Thinking Man's Game'

May 14, 2019

by Carl Jaeger

Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. showed up big time ー for 2,632 consecutive Major League Baseball games. Now he's sharing his advice, both on and off the field, in his new book "Just Show Up."

“The cool part about playing all those games in a row, is that everybody shared their streaks with me,” Ripken Jr. said. “Teachers that haven’t missed a day, someone who hasn’t missed a day in 31 years at a plant. And I kept thinking, ‘I’m playing baseball for a living. You guys are working.’”

Ripken Jr. stepped away from the MLB in 2001, but he is still involved in the future of what he calls a "thinking man’s game,” one that continues to rely more on data and analytics.

He’s also focusing on modernizing the sport with new technology, something he hopes will draw in more prospective players.

“I’d like to be able to include the digital mapping of a field to actually include ー not replacing the home umpire per se ー but actually give a fairer chance at the strike zone,” he said.

Cost for the new "digital umpire" is currently cost prohibitive, but it’s one of many changes Ripken Jr. says will “make the game more action packed.”

Some of the changes could soon be found at the Ripken Academy, a spring training and tournament camp meant for those looking to make it in the majors, one of two organizations he started after retirement. The other is the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation ー a nonprofit named after his father that brings baseball into underserved areas.

Ripken Jr. said many of the skills he learned on the diamond transfer to his business ventures, and when CEOs approach him wanting to talk baseball he in return questions them about running a company.

“When you play for a sports team they call it chemistry when you’re in the clubhouse. When you’re in a business and you have people working for a common goal ー you call that a culture,” Ripken Jr. said. “And the two environments are different by and large, but still the outcome is how do you get the team to operate in the same direction.”

Some of those lessons are covered in “Just Show Up,” including a piece of advice Ripken Jr. received from his father: be the quietest person in the room.

“My dad always gave me advice in saying, ‘If you meet someone that you really like, figure out a question that you can ask them, because whatever they tell you back, you can keep that information for a lifetime,” Ripken Jr. said. “Some people will say ‘Can you sign something for me?’, and that’s cool too, but from my dad’s perspective that just sits on the shelf.”

For full interview click here.