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Be like Mike? Puh-leez! Be like Cal

Published Sep. 13, 2005

In Cal Ripken's hometown of Aberdeen, there is no more squabbling among Little Leaguers over who wears his uniform number. Everyone is No. 8.

The Little League team in Arbutus attacks the problem in just the opposite manner. There is no No. 8.

"If we don't have it, then there can be no arguments," said Mike Haspert, president of the 40-team league.

The competition among Little Leaguers to wear the number of the Orioles' Iron Man is fierce. Some beg. Others pout. And some even burst into tears, overcome with disappointment, at not getting Ripken's number when uniforms are handed out each spring.

When Recreation Council coach Gene Cunningham handed out uniforms this spring to his team in Towson, all the numbers were in the 20s or 40s.

"Who wants 44?" Cunningham asked.

"Take it," a father yelled to his 7-year-old son. "That was Reggie Jackson's number."

When that didn't click with his child, he tried another tack.

"Four plus four is eight," the father called out. "That's Cal, quick, grab it!"