Testaments to hard work

BOB ELLIOTT, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:35 AM ET

He showed up for work. Every day.

Cal Ripken played 2,632 consecutive games for the Baltimore Orioles, yet his attention-getting streak was far from the only reason he will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown tomorrow.

Ripken's 431 home runs were the second-most by Hall of Famers who played a majority of the games at shortstop.

Ernie Banks led the way with 512, but moved to first later in his career. Robin Yount hit 251, moving to centre field in the latter stages of his career. Ripken's homer on July 15, 1993 was his 278th as a shortstop, breaking Banks' record.

Ripken also leads the shortstop pack with 1,695 career RBIs, followed by Banks with 1,636 and Yount at 1,406.

Banks and Ripken are the only two-time MVP award- winners at shortstop.

Honus Wagner had the most hits among shortstops with 3,430, while Ripken finished with 3,184. Wagner had the most doubles and Ripken was second (651-603).

At the plate, Ripken hit .276 which ranked 12th among the Hall of Famers.

Ozzie Smith and Luis Aparicio had more range and stole more bases, but Ripken did the job in the field. He grew up on minor-league diamonds in Leesburg, Fla., Appleton, Wisc., Aberdeen, S.D., Miami, Elmira and Rochester, N.Y., Dallas and Asheville, N.C., learning the game from his father, Cal Sr..

In other words, Ripken could play. The best Hall of Fame shortstop ever? We'll take Wagner, a career .327 hitter, who hit over .300 for 16 seasons.

As popular as Ripken was in the American League, Tony Gwynn of the San Diego Padres was in the National.

The biggest knock against Gwynn was that he would not veto his no-trade clause and move on to a contender.

What's wrong with a player wanting to play his whole career in one city? Don't we usually blast guys for switching teams for the higher contract?

Gwynn, one of the best interview subjects in baseball, was Ted Williams' pick as the hitter most likely to match the .400 average he put together in 1941. Gwynn's best season was in 1994 when he batted .394.

The right fielder hit .300 or better in 19 of his 20 big-league seasons, winning eight batting titles and gaining 15 all-star game selections. He retired with a .338 career mark, often driving a ball through what he called the "5.5 hole" between third and short.

The Padres erected a 9 1/2-foot bronze statue of his likeness at Petco Park. The statue's five-foot granite base bears the inscription "Mr. Padre," and a quote from Gwynn's late father, Charles Gwynn: "If you work hard, good things will happen."

Gwynn, like Ripken, worked hard. And good things happened.


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