God's Politics

In these days of war and more war, of too many athletes who make the news for drug use or arrests, it’s nice to have a good news story to celebrate.

Cal Ripken, Jr. of the Baltimore Orioles and Tony Gwynn of the San Diego Padres were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame yesterday by the Baseball Writers’ Association. That fact was never in doubt since both retired five years ago, but the confirmation is cause for celebration. Both were stars on the field – Ripken an All Star 19 times, and Gwynn 15. Both are in the record books – Gwynn with eight batting championships and “Ironman” Ripken with 2,632 consecutive games.

And, both are gentlemen loved by their communities off the field. What made them special, in this age of mercenary ballplayers who go wherever the dollars lead them, was that they spent their entire careers with their hometown teams – Ripken for 21 years in Baltimore and Gwynn for 20 years in San Diego. Both were offered more money to change teams during their careers, but both stuck by their teams and their cities.

Watching them play for twenty years, as I did, was a constant reminder of why baseball is such a special part of each summer. And it’s only five weeks to spring training.

Duane Shank is senior policy adviser for Sojourners/Call to Renewal.

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