Cal Ripken could have been a pitcher. Tony Gwynn could have played basketball in Europe. Today, the two will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame.
Throwing a 90-plus mph fastball when he wasn't at shortstop, Ripken was picked in the second round in 1978. The Orioles, in part at the behest of his father, longtime coach Cal Ripken Sr., gave him a try at short.
"Pitchers only get to pitch one out of five days," Ripken said. "I wanted to play every day."
Gwynn went to San Diego State on a basketball scholarship with the understanding he could walk on to the baseball team. He didn't do so as a freshman and might not have ever done so if high school friend Bobby Meacham not signed and told coach Jim Dietz about him.
"If it wasn't for Bobby Meacham, I definitely wouldn't be here," Gwynn said.
Making their careers especially unusual is they spent every day with the same organization. That's why officials expect record crowds.
"When I stand on that podium, I feel like I'm representing so many people who supported me my whole career in San Diego," Gwynn said. "When you're that guy, there's a definite feeling. To me, it doesn't get any better than that."
"I really enjoyed every aspect of the game," Ripken said. "I enjoyed practicing, being around the guys. I was always upbeat, having fun in any situation. You can't play baseball every single day without a smile on your face. You have to have a joy for what you're doing because it does become hard to go out there each and every day to play."
VETERANS COMMITTEE: The board of directors voted to cut the size and number of players it will consider. Only the 63 living Hall of Famers will vote for a slate of 10 players determined by two screening committees. A committee of 16 comprising Hall of Famers, writers, executives and historians will vote for managers and umpires.
* Played all 21 years for Orioles
* Rokkie of year in '82, MVP in '83 and '91
* 2,632 straight games (forst all-time)
* 3,184 hits (13th)
* 431 homers (345 at short, first all-time)
* 18 All-Star Games, two Gold Gloves
* Played all 20 years for Padres
* 3,141 hits (17th all-time)
* Eight Batting titles (tied for second)
* .338 career avergae (20th)
* Hitting .394 when strike ended 1994 season
* 15 All-Star games, five Gold Gloves