Cal Ripken, Jr., Shortstop, Baltimore Orioles
At 6’4” and 225 pounds, Ripken transformed the shortstop position from a place for little guys who hit singles (at best) to a spot for big, powerful athletes. He was Rookie of the Year in 1982, MVP in 1983 and 1991, and he amassed 3,184 hits and 431 home runs during his 21 seasons, all with the O’s. But Ripkin’s greatest achievement is arguably his record 2,632 consecutive games played—something you don’t do unless you’re in pretty unbelievable shape. Ultracompetitive, he grew up playing soccer and often played pickup basketball in the offseason to stay fit. According to many, he was super strong, especially in his hands, and his pain tolerance was second to none.
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