Iron Man: The Cal Ripken, Jr. Story, by Harvey Rosenfeld, ISBN 0312135246
Five out of five stars
Since this book was written and published after the end of the 1994 season, it does not include the final chapters on Ripken’s career, which ended in 2001. When his consecutive game streak ended, it was at 2,632, over 500 more than that of the legendary Gehrig. Even more amazing is that the next highest streak after that is 1,307 by Everett Scott. It is often said that a record will never be broken, only to have it fall. If I was forced to bet on an unbreakable record, it would be that of Ripken.
This book is a chronicle of the life of Cal Ripken, Jr. up through the 1994 season. While there is some personal information outside of baseball, the vast majority of the content is about his life in baseball. Given that his father Cal Ripken Sr. was both a coach and a manager for the Orioles while junior played and his brother Billy also played for the Orioles while junior did, there is some personal information about that as well.
This is generally a history of Ripken’s accomplishments and is written in the old style of sports books, where there is no attempt to “humanize” the athlete Ripken. There is some dirt expressed about him, but it is nothing more than a light dusting. The reader cannot help but be impressed by Ripken’s work ethic. To play the number of consecutive games and at times number of consecutive innings he did, there is no question that there were games when he was in significant pain, yet still crossed the foul lines into the action.
While limited in historical completeness, this is still a good book about a player that is deservedly a legend. He got to the park, suited up and played the game very well at one of the most difficult and strenuous positions on the baseball field.