ThePostGame caught up with Orioles' legend Cal Ripken, who was taking time off his busy schedule to talk about his partnership with Transitions Optical and his work helping to get glasses for kids who need them.
ThePostGame: You're here because of a partnership you're doing with Transitions. Can you tell me about that and how you started wearing glasses?
CAL RIPKEN: I needed glasses, and I fought it for a long time and finally came to my senses and went to my doctor and my doctor recommended Transitions lenses for me. He thought with my lifestyle they would be the right choice. Then we started talking to Transitions optical about a relationship and they have a campaign, I guess Darius Rucker is a part of it, Robert Irvine, and I was very flattered to be thought of in that way. So part of my job is to get the message out for kids to get eye care and eye exams because many times you take your eyes for granted, like I did.
There's a foundation partnership where actually we brought a mobile truck where we got kids eye exams at the Boys and Girls Club in Tampa, Fla. If they needed glasses, they got glasses made right on the truck and so to me that's one of my favorite roles with Transition -- to develop a message towards kids. I look at it more as a potential longterm partnership than just trying to talk about the glasses, but what I will say is once I talked to my doctor and came to my senses I realized I was doing a lot of cheating things to work around glasses, like your iPad, you can expand things on your iPad. But once I got glasses, I realized all those things that you were cheating comes back to you and you go back to the way things were.
TPG: Being a baseball player, one of the things you're of course known for is hand-eye coordination. Did you notice that going with your sight?
RIPKEN: There are degrees of hand-eye coordination. When you're doing it at the highest level playing professional baseball, there's a point where you start to lose that as you go. I still have really good hand-eye coordination and eyesight to me was all part of being aware of what's going on around you. I prided myself on being able to see more of the field and being able to react to things that happen in high speed and so whether it's your perepheral vision or whether it's your ability to see further or pick up patterns of a hitter's the way they swing, that's all utilized with your eyes. And I think the hand-eye coordination stayed pretty much there but your eyes start to fail. Which didn't happen to me until I was 50 ...
TPG: That's lucky. That's pretty late
RIPKEN: ... I held onto it for a while, but even in business settings, you're passing out financial statements and many times I couldn't see them, I would fake it and read it later.
TPG: What are your thoughts on Orioles this year? Is this THE year?
RIPKEN: The Orioles are a playoff caliber team. Whether you win the division or not depends on a lot of things that happen when you play it out. When I look at the Orioles, they have a really great leader in Buck Showalter, he's brought them in and assembled a really good team and manages the bullpen really well. So you look at the depth of their starting staff, they are a playoff caliber team, they can do what they did last year. Whether the starters perform, and whether all that happens is how it plays out. But I have no doubt that they're playing well. They lost a couple of tough games in the end, which last year it almost went magically perfect where they had such a phenomenal record in these close games, so those are all factors. But I think the best thing you can say is, yes they're good, yes they're a playoff caliber team.
TPG: Do you talk to them a lot? Like can you go and call Buck Showalter and say, 'Hey so I was watching ...'?
RIPKEN: No, no, but Buck is so smart and Buck will probe me when we see him, he'll say, 'Oh what did you think of this play, what did you think of that play,'-- he constantly throws out stuff. I love talking with Buck because he's as analytical as I am and so I think we feed each other. With our busy schedule, I haven't had too many conversations with him. I've been to the ballpark a few times -- Brady Anderson has a significant role with the Orioles now, so I can communicate with Brady. Sometimes he calls me with a question on what do i think about x,y, and z. I love that relationship, I love that they value my opinion enough to ask me sometimes. Buck Showalter's really made it feel like a great baseball place so I don't feel like I'm invading the clubhouse. I feel welcome so that's cool.
TPG: Camden Yards is known for its amazing food. What's your favorite thing to get there?
RIPKEN: I haven't experienced the food stuff. We just started doing the food and beverage for the minor league team in Aberdeen, so I've gotten more engrossed in menus and all of that but I can't tell you that I've gone to the ballpark and really ... I'll eat afterwards or I'll eat before. All those years I had a perspective from the field out, and now I have a different perspective. I guess I'll have to go have a food experience ... which I haven't. You have to be careful where my seats are to drink a beer or two because you're on TV ...
TPG: And all of a sudden people are saying 'Cal Ripken, downing his seventh beer ...'
RIPKEN: Exactly. I have to figure out how to have a beer without being judged on TV.
TPG: Are you a Natty Boh guy or do you go higher class than that?
RIPKEN: It depends upon the mood. I can be a Natty Boh guy while I'm eating crabs. But you might say it just has to say "B-E-E-R" on the side.
TPG: Before the interview, you were talking about the most consecutive game streak. Do you wish people remembered you for other parts of your career?
RIPKEN: I think in the end if you're remembered for whatever reason, that's good. I think I've made those remarks at the end of my career. Some people say 'you're known for the streak they didn't think you were a good hitter or you didn't hit a lot of home runs.'
To me, how you're perceived is how you're perceived. I had a good career, I got a lot of hits. I was very proud of the defense I was able to play and being a bigger guy that played shortstop, I liked the role I played considering other people who have played that position, so there's a lot of things I am very proud of. How you're perceived, how you're remembered, that's in the eyes of the people watching the game and I'm happy to just be remembered at all.
Here is more of our conversation with Cal Ripken in which he reveals the greatest Halloween costume he ever wore: