Middle-schooler wins chance to interview Cal

September 28, 1998

Matt TylerBy LARRY YANOS / Staff Writer

photo: RICHARD T. MEAGHER / staff photographer

Earlier this summer, Matt Tyler of Hagerstown had an experience most girls and boys his age would cherish - a chat and interview with Baltimore Orioles All-Star third baseman Cal Ripken Jr. at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore.

The 12-year-old, a seventh-grader at Northern Middle School in Hagerstown, earned the opportunity for the Ripken interview by winning a contest sponsored by Kids' Vue - a publication based in Frederick, Md. Matt is a junior reporter there.

Kids' Vue asked youngsters to submit an essay of 200 words or less on why they would like to interview the Baltimore baseball player and future Hall of Famer.


"There were several hundred entries from five different states and I was happy mine was selected," Matt said.

Here's the winning essay:

"I would like to interview Cal Ripken Jr. because ... He is a wonderful role model. His determination in baseball has always encouraged me to try my best at whatever I do. Even though we always remember him for his winning spirit, I think he is most inspiring in the way he handles adversity and failure with such a positive attitude. He is a good example to all children that setbacks can be used as stepping stones and that perseverance can overcome all obstacles. His dedication to baseball has taught me to set high standards, work hard and to never let go of the dreams that inspire me."

"It was nice," the son of Mr. and Mrs. Donald Tyler said of his 20-minute appearance with Ripken prior to the Baltimore-Tampa Bay game on Aug. 20. "He's a lot bigger than he appears on television. He's a pretty nice guy. I was really nervous but he had a calming effect on me."

Following the interview in the clubhouse, Ripken autographed a baseball and card for Matt, who also received an Orioles jacket.

"After the interview, I was allowed on the field to watch batting practice and I saw some of the other Orioles players as well," Matt said. "I don't get a chance to get down to as many games as I would like, but I watch the Orioles a lot on television."

And when not following the Orioles, Matt plays basketball and soccer at the Hagerstown YMCA.

Matt quizzed Ripken on a variety of subjects.

The topics included such things as:

  • Who were your role models when you were a kid?
  • At what point in your career did you decide to break Lou Gehrig's record?
  • What was the most important thing that you learned from your parents?

Ripken's replies (in part and in order) were:

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* " NATURALSIZEFLAG="0" ALIGN="BOTTOM"> "Mostly baseball players. I followed the careers of (Baltimore players) Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson and Boog Powell, but I actually liked the 'Big Red Machine,' the Cincinnati Reds' Pete Rose, Johnny Bench and Tony Perez."

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* " NATURALSIZEFLAG="0" ALIGN="BOTTOM"> "Probably in 1995. I had never thought about the record before then. I just went out and played. When I passed 2,000 games, everybody wanted me to break the record."

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* " NATURALSIZEFLAG="0" ALIGN="BOTTOM"> "Just to be a good person, I think that's the most important thing. And really what family means - and consideration, consideration for every other human being."

Ripken, who broke Gehrig's record on Sept. 6, 1995, by appearing in 2,130 consecutive games, took himself out of the lineup on Sept. 20 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards following 2,632 consecutive game appearances.

The move surprised Matt.

"I was disappointed to see the streak end but at least he chose to end it on his own terms. It wasn't an injury or someone else's decision, " Matt said.

"I thought it was good, though, that the streak - if it was to end - came on the final home game of the season."

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