Rochester Red Wings Programs of the Past: “Summer Fun in ’81” (and misspelling Cal Ripken’s name)

In this recurring piece, I look at the programs and yearbooks of my hometown Rochester Red Wings. This is the first part of the series.

In 1981, the Rochester Red Wings were, if nothing else, notable. They played in the longest game in baseball history- a 33-inning loss against Pawtucket that was begun in April and finished in June. Cal Ripken played his last full season in the minor leagues for Rochester. Future All-Star and Gold-Glover Mike Boddicker also played for Rochester that season.

So it’s as good a place as any to begin our look back at Rochester Red Wings programs/yearbooks.


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Bizarre Baseball Culture: Cal Ripken orders the 2001 Yankees to Save The World

In Bizarre Baseball Culture, I take a look at some of the more unusual places where baseball has reared it’s head in pop culture and fiction.

Wolverine of the X-Men has a habit of appearing in comics he technically isn’t supposed to be in, simply because he’s popular. Well, Cal Ripken is the Wolverine of Baseball Comic Books.  He’s joined forces with Batman, led the Shortstop Squad, and been the subject of a bio-comic. Also, like Wolverine, Cal Ripken seemed to be able to recover from any injury, no matter how severe. But, it’s the first similarity that I’m focusing on, because, in the comic I will be looking at today, Cal Ripken appears in a story about the 2001 New York Yankees being Superheroes.

Let that sink in. The New York Yankees, in a comic that they themselves ordered and gave away, still had Cal Ripken in their comic and had him on the cover too.


Entitled “Championship Challenge” and given out September 28, 2001, it stars, as you can see, four of the greatest stars the Yankees had that season. Mariano Rivera! Tino Martinez! Jorge Posada! And, of course, the Once and Future Captain, Derek Jeter himself. But, of course, we also see Cal RIpken on the cover, letting everybody know that the Iron Man will be there! With such Ultimate Sports Force stalwarts as Rick Licht writing and Brian Kong doing the art, this was partially made as part of the Ripken farewell celebration, and it becomes even more obvious when you realize that originally Ripken’s final series would have been at Yankee Stadium if not for the schedule reshuffling that MLB did after the 9/11 attacks.

Anyway, go below the jump to read about the story:

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Bizarre Baseball Culture: A Cal Ripken Bio-Comic

In Bizarre Baseball Culture, I take a look at some of the more unusual places where baseball has reared it’s head in pop culture and fiction.

There is a special type of baseball culture that I haven’t really covered yet… the baseball biography comic. Whether authorized or unauthorized, the baseball bio-comic is it’s own small subgenre of weird.

Take Baseball Superstars Comics‘ bio-comic on Cal Ripken, Jr. from 1992. A black-and-white comic from the now long-defunct “Revolutionary Comics” and seventh in a series of baseball bio-comics, it’s like a fever-dream of a look into the life and times of the Orioles great up through the 1991 season. The art is disturbing, the writing wooden, and the facts sometimes feel wrong.

That said, it’s not all bad. It’s got a so-bad-it’s-good quality at times, and any comic that features two pages devoted to the longest game ever is going to get my attention.

So, on his 54th birthday, here’s a look at the Baseball Superstars comic on Cal Ripken Jr…. after the jump:

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In this, the 25th official installment of “Bizarre Baseball Culture” (“Rockets Rigby” was something of a prologue), I don’t really look at anything new, so much as look at some things that keep popping up in the series. So far, we’ve had 19 comics-related posts (although some of them have been really short, and in other cases have been two-in-one deals), one movie clip, three animated pieces and one prose novel (plus the short story prologue). So, in all of those, what are some things I’ve noticed a lot of? Well… (GO BELOW THE JUMP)

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There exists a baseball card of Cal Ripken in an Iron Man Suit

Found this online. I must one day buy it and then have it framed and placed upon my desk:

calripkenasironmanYes, that’s a baseball card of Cal Ripken wearing an Iron Man suit.

Your mind… is now blown.

Bizarre Baseball Culture: The Batman and Cal Ripken Jr. join forces to promote Big League Chew

In Bizarre Baseball Culture, I take a look at some of the more unusual places where baseball has reared it’s head in pop culture and fiction.

When I was growing up, there was only one true cartoon Batman, and that was the Batman voiced by Kevin Conroy in a series of cartoons that started in the early nineties, ended in 2006, and then briefly revived for the occasional video game or DVD movie. The shows that featured Conroy- usually headed by a writer named Paul Dini and an artist named Bruce Timm- were and are masterpieces, regarded by many as the definitive Batman and not just great kids shows, but great shows period.

However, there was the slight problem that having a deep and rather mature Batman in the cartoons meant there wasn’t as much stuff for the very little kiddies, so in 2004, while the Conroy-Batman was in a Justice League cartoon, a new show was created, entitled simply The Batman. While it did have it’s moments (or so I hear, I think I only watched maybe four episodes of it in total), it was not dark, it was not deep, it was not mature and it just in general was an abomination, especially when compared to the Batman cartoons I’d grown up watching. It was created basically just to sell toys to little kids in the run-up to the release of Batman Begins (which, as we all know, was totally kid friendly, right?).

Still, there was one thing that The Batman gave us: a comic book in which Batman joins forces with Cal Ripken Jr. in order to stop the Penguin and hawk Big League Chew. Just as Bob Kane and Bill Finger intended.

(Go below the jump for more)

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When were record chases first noticed?: Cal Ripken’s Consecutive Game Streak

I’ve been looking through the old SI Vault, curious as to when various record chases were first noticed by Sports Illustrated. So, in this new feature, I look at when the first reference to Cal Ripken‘s pursuit of Lou Gehrig‘s consecutive game streak began.

Ripken’s Consecutive Games Streak

For example, take Cal Ripken and his pursuit of Lou Gehrig’s record. It was first hinted at in 1989, when the fact he was third overall in consecutive games played was referenced in a Peter Gammons article. The next year, in the June 18 issue, there was a whole article about his streak, including how many already were having doubts about whether it was helping or hurting the Orioles. By 1992, Gehrig’s record was clearly in danger, which, along with the fact that Bob Beamon’s long-jump record had been broken, led to an SI article listing 10 records that were never going to be broken.

Of note is that, from that list, one of those supposedly unbreakable records (Roger Maris‘ 61 HRs) has been broken (albeit with the alleged aid of PEDs), another (the Lakers’ 33 straight wins) is currently under assault, and a third (Jack Nicklaus’ majors) could conceivably be broken.