Ripken's son follows father's big footsteps

Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. was not pushed to become a baseball player by his father, Cal Sr. Cal Jr. has taken the same approach with his son, Ryan, a high school junior who has proven to be a standout ballplayer.

BALTIMORE -- Cal Ripken Jr. was never pushed to play baseball by his father. He adopted that same philosophy when raising his own son.

Turns out that Ryan Ripken, like his dad, grew to love baseball. And, just like his father, he's pretty good at the game.

Ryan Ripken was selected to play in the 2011 Under Armour All-America Baseball Game, which will be held next month at Wrigley Field in Chicago. Over the first three years of the game, 88 of the 103 draft-eligible players who competed were selected in the Major League Baseball amateur draft -- including 18 first round picks.

Ryan batted .353 as a junior at Gilman High School and is already fielding scholarship offers.

Sure, his father is proud. But if Ryan chose to drop baseball for basketball, or abandoned sports completely, his dad wouldn't mind one bit if the run of Ripkens in the majors ends.

"I want him to be happy. If he derives the same sort of happiness that I did from baseball, he wants to pursue that and continue to play, then I'll be happy for him," Cal said Tuesday. "But quite honestly, I want him to choose something that he's happy in, and it doesn't have to be baseball by any means."

Cal Ripken Sr. was a coach and manager in the Baltimore Orioles organization for nearly four decades. Cal Jr. spent his entire 21-year career with the Orioles, played in a record 2,632 consecutive games and was elected to the Hall of Fame.

Cal Jr. loved hanging around the Orioles clubhouse as a kid and enjoyed playing the game. Ryan grew up under similar circumstances until his father retired in 2001.

Described as "tall and lanky" by his father, Ryan doesn't yet possess the power of Cal, who had 431 career homers. But he plays a solid first base and still has room to develop his swing.

"He's got easy power with his bat. His home runs haven't really caught up to his easy power, but I remind him that I hit zero home runs in my first pro season," Cal said.

Regardless of what Ryan ends up doing, his father won't be disappointed.

"It's his life. He doesn't have to do anything in baseball to make me proud. I'm proud of him already," Cal said.

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