One of the true legends of baseball, Cal Ripken, Jr. began his professional baseball career in 1978, made it to the majors in 1981, and quickly set a new standard for shortstops. Big, strong, and durable, he displayed power at the plate, grace in the field, and unrivaled perseverance. He earned AL Rookie of the Year honors in 1982, won the MVP award in 1983 and 1991, and received a Gold Glove in 1991 and 1992. In 1995, Cal broke Lou Gehrig’s major league record for consecutive games played (2,130). The next year, he surpassed Japanese great Sachio Kinugasa’s streak of 2,215 straight games. Cal voluntarily ended his streak on September 20, 1998, after playing 2,632 consecutive games. During this 17-year span, Cal amassed 3,184 hits, including 431 home runs. He holds many major league records, including most home runs by a shortstop and highest single season fielding percentage by a shortstop (.996). He retired from baseball in October 2001 after 21 seasons with the Baltimore Orioles.