The Secrets of a Baseball Iron Man: Cal Ripken Jr.

So we’re in Baltimore, Maryland at a really practical and useful conference which is rare enough in itself and we also got the opportunity to listen in as Cal Ripken Jr. reflected on some of his achievements.

We’re not baseball fans … at all … but you’ve got to respect a guy who played 2,632 games without missing a single one.

That’s seventeen years without missing a single inning or at bat. 17 years!

He beat the previous record, held by Lou Gehrig, by 502 games and finally removed himself voluntarily from a game to end the streak.
The game in which he broke Lou’s record has been voted the most memorable game in Baseball’s history. Not bad eh?

Cal retired in 2001.

During his chat Cal shared that the obvious #1 question he gets is, “What’s his secret? How did he play 17 years without missing a single game?” Not for injury, having a “bad day”, family issues, disagreements with Managers or teammates … not for anything.
And guess what his the answer is?

Here’s exactly what he said:

“I just liked playing.”

Huh?

Gimme a break. We want to hear how you repeat positive affirmations, eat right, work hard, have a positive mental attitude, rub your lucky silver coin before every game … give us something!

“I just liked playing.” Come ON!

A little while after breaking the streak Derek Jeter, from the NY Yankees, asked him the same question … “How did you do it Cal? How did you play 17 years without missing a game? After two weeks of the season I start feeling like I need to get away for a while. How did you do it for almost two decades?”

So he gave his standard answer again, “I’m not sure, I just like to play.”

And Derek Jeter looked at him with such disappointment that Cal really felt like he had let him down. Immediately afterwards a reporter asked him, “What traits does someone have to have to do accomplish what you accomplished?”

And that got him thinking…

Cal decided he needed to answer that question to help out Derek Jeter and everyone else who has been asking him about his incredible streak.

He sat down and wrote out the things that he felt served him well over the years.

We’re going to share the notes we took during his chat… here we go:

1. The Right Approach

Right attitude, a personal mission statement, and an honest and simple approach of being ready and available for his role.

In the early 1990’s he was struggling badly and the media was calling him selfish for not pulling himself out of some games to give someone else a chance to help the team.

He was depressed about it and considered it until a veteran pitcher on the Baltimore Orioles told him on the day he was going to pitch that, as a pitcher, he only got to play every six days, and he wanted and deserved to have the very best players on the field with him.

And that it would be selfish to give into the media critics who don’t even play the game.

That single talk saved Cal’s streak.

The critics went on criticizing.

And interestingly enough, a few years later the same critics were upset that Cal may actually miss a game and break his streak because of the birth of his son.

He didn’t end up needing to … but the lessons is that you can never be right in the eyes of critics so don’t try to be.