The New York Yankees announced today that they have signed the legacy of Cal Ripken, Jr. to a contract that will see the Hall of Fame shortstop receive $10 million in back pay for each of the 20 seasons he played with the Baltimore Orioles. The move ensures that Ripken, a 19-time All-Star and the holder of the Major League record for most consecutive games played, will be forever remembered asa Yankee.
"As an organization,we pride ourselves on beingthe professional embodiment ofclass, grit and playing the game the right way," said Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman at a press conference announcing the signing. "And few players in the history of baseball have exemplified those qualities more than Cal Ripken, Jr. We are thrilled to welcome both Cal, and hisoverwhelming historicalachievements, into the Yankee family."
Pursuant to the deal, over 11,000 hours of archived Ripken footage in Major League Baseball's video library will be digitally altered to replace his Orioles' uniform with Yankee pinstripes. This includes the Orioles' celebration of their 1983 World Series Championship, Ripken's MVP performance at the 1991 All-Star Game in Toronto, and his famed run around Camden Yards afterbreaking Lou Gehrig's streak for consecutive games played on September 6, 1995. The Baltimore cap worn by Ripken on hisplaque at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, will also be changed to that of the Yankees.
"I'm thrilled, obviously," Ripken said at the press conference. "Don't get me wrong, I love Baltimore. Heck, I spent my entire actual career there. Butthe thought of all future generations associating me with the greatest franchise in baseball history? It's something that every ballplayer dreams of."
Ripken claimed that the deal was about more than just the money: "Obviously, I'd be a fool to turn my nose up at $200 million for something that, in essence, requires me to do nothing. But at this stage in my life, the most important thing to me, besides my family, is my legacy. And to see my number 8 sitting there in Monument Park, right next to Yogi [Berra] and [Bill] Ol' Dickface [Dickey] I mean, what more could you ask for?"
Orioles fans reacted to the news with a mixture of disappointment and resignation. "Obviously it sucks, but whaddya gonna do?" said Graham Rind, 36, of Baltimore. "It's going to take some adjusting to not immediately associate Ripken with our team, because hewasthe Orioles for so long. But it's not like we didn't expect this. Everyone knew it was just a matter of time."
Nikki Sobotka, 31, shared a similar sentiment: "In baseball, there'sNew Yorkand then there's everybody else. Always has been that way, and it always will be. We had Cal for 20 years, and those of us who got to see him play will treasure those memories forever."
"It just sucks that the tangible evidence of those memories are going to be completely eradicated from existence."
While Cashman would not get into specifics, he strongly hinted that the Yankees were far from done. "There's some other former players we are keeping our eye on. And, should an opportunity present itself in a way that makes sense for our ballclub, we'll approach those players or their respective estates at that time. But for now, we're just absolutely thrilled to be able to bring Cal's career into the fold."
Despite Cashman's vagueness, speculation on the rumor mill has been rampant. Numeroussources say New York has already expressed interest inthe legacies of theKansas CityRoyals' George Brett, the Houston Astros' Craig Biggio, and the Milwaukee Brewers' Robin Yount.They are also purported to be in talks regarding the achievements of the late KirbyPuckettof the Minnesota Twins, but negotiations are said to have stalled on his family's insistence that New York also take "the part where [Puckett] got all fat and rapey."