Vi Ripken, Mother of Cal Ripken Jr. and Orioles Matriarch, Dies at 82

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMarch 1, 2021

Vi Ripken, left, mother of former Baltimore Orioles great Cal Ripken, Jr., talks with Orioles manager Buck Showalter, right, before a ceremony to unveil Cal's statue before a baseball game against the New York Yankees, Thursday, Sept. 6, 2012, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Nick Wass/Associated Press

Vi Ripken, the mother of Baltimore Orioles legend and MLB Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr., died Friday, according to ESPN. She was 82. 

The Orioles released the following statement:

Baltimore Orioles 😷 @Orioles

The Orioles mourn the passing of Vi Ripken, beloved matriarch of the Ripken family. We send our condolences to Cal, Billy, Ryan, and their entire family during this incredibly difficult time. https://t.co/b8B699K2Br

"We are deeply saddened to learn about the passing of Vi Ripken," the NFL's Baltimore Ravens said in a statement of their own. "The Ripkens are engrained in the fabric of the greater Baltimore community, and Vi played a significant role in helping establish their family's strong legacy. We extend our heartfelt condolences to her children and grandchildren during this sorrowful time."

Ripken Jr. spent his entire 21-year career with the Orioles, setting an MLB record with 2,632 consecutive games played without missing a contest, topping Lou Gehrig's previous record (2,130 straight games). It was a record Vi Ripken was proud of, though one she downplayed a bit when asked. 

"From day one, I've never understood all the hoopla," she said, per McKenna Oxenden of the Baltimore Sun. "I mean, isn't this what life is all about—you go out, do a job, come back tomorrow and do it again?"

Cal Ripken Sr. spent 36 years with the Orioles, serving as a player, manager, coach, scout and working in the organization's farm system. And their son Billy Ripken spent 12 years in Major League Baseball and seven seasons with the Orioles (1987-92, 1996). 

That made Vi Ripken the de facto matriarch of the Orioles organization. 

Dan Connolly @danconnolly2016

Sad news. Vi Ripken was, in a sense, matriarch of Orioles baseball. Glue of that unique baseball family. Had the opportunity to interview her several times. She was so proud of all of her children. And a great quote, too. Very upfront. Thoughts go to Cal, Bill & all the Ripkens. https://t.co/UcLZS1dySE

Jason La Canfora @JasonLaCanfora

Sending best wishes to the @RipkenBaseball family after the passing of Vi Ripken. Had the pleasure to speak with her on several occasions and always thoroughly enjoyed it. Vibrant personality so beloved and a true baseball matriarch

Gerry Sandusky @GerrySandusky

My condolences to Cal and Bill Ripken and the entire Ripken family on the passing of Vi. Like her boys, she was a one of a kind treasure, a wonderful woman. As tough as it is for her children right now, I suspect Cal Sr is thrilled to have his Vi back by his side. Godspeed Vi,

She was a regular fixture at Orioles and Aberdeen IronBirds minor league games, even after her husband and sons were no longer affiliated with the organization, per Oxenden.

"I'm more like a goodwill ambassador," she said of attending IronBirds' games. "I enjoy what they've done up there. ... It's good for the town and the whole county."