The son of a long-time coach and manager in the Baltimore Orioles organization, he joined the team in 1981 as a third baseman. In 1982 he became the Orioles' regular shortstop and was named Rookie of the Year. On May 30 of that year he began a streak of consecutive games played that attained a climax on Sept. 6, 1995, when it reached 2,131, breaking the “record that should stand for all time” set by Lou Gehrig. Not merely an “iron man,” Ripken had 431 home runs and 3,184 hits, set numerous fielding marks, and was the American League's Most Valuable Player in 1983 and 1991. He became symbolic to many of virtues perceived as disappearing from American sports: hard work, persistence, and modesty. His streak ended at 2,632 games on Sept. 20, 1998, and he retired three years later. Since 2002 he has owned a minor league baseball team, the Aberdeen Ironbirds.
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