Cal Ripken Jr. , formerly of the Baltimore Orioles and Tony Gwynn, of the San Diego Padres, were voted in the first year they became eligible. Ripken received 98.5% and Gwynn 97.6% (who thought they weren’t worthy of the Hall of Fame?) I cannot think of two more fitting individuals in the modern era to be voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Ripken and Gwynn were on the ballot with hefty credentials. Both were All Stars (Gwynn 15 times; Ripken 19 times). Both played their entire careers with one team. That’s 21 years for Ripken and 20 years for Gwynn. They played with all their heart and lived a life of integrity off and on the field. Both were known as ambassadors for the game of baseball.
Ripken was known as the “Iron Man” because of his 2,632 consecutive games played streak. That’s 30 May 1982 to 20 Sep 1998! He had 3,184 hits, 431 home runs, won two gold gloves, and was voted MVP twice.
Gwynn won the batting championship 8 times. He ties with Honus Wagner. He left with a .338 lifetime batting average, 3,141 hits, and five gold gloves.
Gwynn and Ripken belong to an era that has now been overshadowed by steriod use. Their success shows that it can be done the honest way–with talent and alot of hard work.