After years of growing up alongside Orioles' legends, IronBirds' first baseman Ryan Ripken has begun his own journey to the major leagues. I sat down with Ryan last week to learn more about his unique perspective on the game of baseball and what he has learned so far in his young playing career.
How does it feel to have your life come full circle, having been born in Maryland and now playing professionally in the area?
I always used to dream of playing baseball professionally. Especially when I was younger and playing on the amateur fields across the street. I thought it was so far away, but looking back, it's surreal how fast time has come and gone. It's been especially interesting to have seen the stadium and team be built when I was younger (although I didn't really understand what it meant at the time), and now be a player who is fortunate enough to play ball here. We are lucky to have the facilities and resources that we do here-this park is one of the nicest in the minors. Not to mention how lucky I feel to have family in the area who hopefully will be able to come out and watch me play
Any 'words of wisdom' to younger players on how to make it professionally?
The three most important things I've found as a player are, first, you need to have a passion for the game-you simply must love going out and playing each day. Sometimes this requires a bit of self-reflection, where you ask yourself, "why do I play baseball?" and if your answer is because you love the game, then you're on the right track. Second, you need to be willing to put in the practice-that means endless repetitions, day in and day out-no professional baseball player has ever gotten to the pros without putting in the time on the practice field.
Third, failure is okay! There will be bumps in the road and stretches where you have bad games, but it's important to not get discouraged. Even the best players in the world have a week or month-long stretches where they aren't playing well. It's crucial that during those stretches when things aren't going your way to remember to have fun, and don't be too hard on yourself.
Is there anything you have taken from the game of baseball that you apply to your own life?
The game of baseball is a beautiful but cruel game. In what other sport can you fail the majority of the time and still be considered a great player? As a hitter in baseball, if you average three hits out of every 10 at-bats over the course of your career, you are failing 70% of the time, yet those stats could put you in the Hall of Fame. On that note, baseball has really tested my mental toughness; to constantly be 'failing' as I continue to progress through my playing career, I find that it really humbles me. Every day that I'm out on the field, this sport helps me learn more about myself, which helps me improve both on and off of the field.
Who was/were your favorite baseball player(s) past or presently?
Growing up, I'll admit that I didn't fully understand what my dad was accomplishing, but I obviously rooted for him because he was my dad. In terms of lefties I try to emulate, I loved watching Ken Griffey Jr. play-he was such a well-rounded player, both offensively and defensively.
Out of the current Major League players, Mike Trout and Manny Machado stand out-both are so physically talented that they make it look easy. As you can tell, I don't have any one favorite player. There's so much that you can learn from watching all of these different Major Leaguers play. To me, any of these guys who have progressed to the Majors have aspects of their game that I feel I can emulate to help improve myself as a player.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.