Much like baseball, trucking is a team sport: Everyone has a position, and each position is valuable. From the professional truck drivers on the ground to the executives at the top, there are a few qualities that each member of the organization must possess — dedication, perseverance, and commitment.
Major League Baseball (MLB) Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. knows a thing or two about those qualities. An unforgettable shortstop for the Baltimore Orioles, Ripken made history not only with his exceptional abilities at the position, but also with an unprecedented dedication to the game — 2,632 of those games to be exact.
Ripken shared his story of dedication and perseverance to more than 1,200 attendees during the Truckload Carriers Association’s Annual Convention — Truckload 2020: Orlando. He stressed that the importance of “showing up” cannot be taken for granted. Doing just that — showing up — is what led him to make history.
On September 5, 1995, Ripken broke the MLB record for the longest stretch of consecutive games played by any player in MLB history. This accomplishment, which earned him the nickname of baseball’s “Iron Man,” gave dedicated Oriole fans something to be proud of during some of the darker times in the team’s history.
Time can fly by just as fast as a baseball, and Ripken recognizes that as he approaches the 25th anniversary of setting that record. As he reflects on the record he still holds and celebrates the “milestone of a milestone,” Ripken still credits much of his success to resiliency and dedication.
“Well, I think when you’re finished playing, all you have is time to sit back and remember,” said Ripken. “The good part about that is that most people remember all the good stuff. They don’t remember any of the bad stuff. The ‘Iron Man’ record was really something because I was resilient enough to go out there and play. Mentally I was strong enough to meet the challenges every day, so I’m very proud of that.”
Ripken said that celebrating his streak of games has shown him that everyone — no matter the industry — has a streak of which they are proud. Whether it’s going to work and never using a sick day, or having perfect attendance in school, dedication, perseverance, and simply showing up are valuable assets.
Bringing his point home to the attendees, Ripken said he has had several truck drivers relate their dedication on the road to that of Ripken’s on the field.
“Everybody would tell me their streaks, and so many times there were truckers that said, ‘I’m on the road, like you are as a baseball player. We have challenges, like you do as a baseball player,’” said Ripken. “It’s important for us to meet those challenges each and every day, and that’s the principle that I love. There’s value in showing up. And there were many different truckers that had the same sort of attitude and approach that we baseball players have.”
Ripken said those challenges include being away from home, juggling schedules, and meeting deadlines, all of which can be a lot to handle whether playing baseball, driving a truck, or running a business.
“The principle of showing up and [having a good] work ethic is right there with all the truckers, and with America in many ways,” added Ripken. “I enjoy hearing those stories.”
Ripken said he has a few friends who went into the trucking industry after baseball, which reiterates his belief that dedication, perseverance, and showing up continue to translate from baseball to our industry.
In any career, Ripken said, it boils down to having the right mentality to get the job done — no matter what the job is.
“It’s the grinding-out mentality. It’s the stubbornness, sometimes,” shared Ripken. “It’s the standing up for what you believe in, and sometimes doing things that aren’t expected of you.”
Ripken said his mentality hasn’t necessarily changed as he looks forward to celebrating the 25th anniversary of the night he broke Lou Gehrig’s consecutive-games record, noting that any time one has the opportunity to celebrate 25 years after any event, it’s a special feeling.
At the end of the day, though, what matters most to Ripken is that those around him could always count on him to be there and to have a winning attitude.
“It made me feel really good that you could be counted on each and every day by your teammates,” Ripken shared with Truckload 2020: Orlando attendees. “I think that’s a principle and value that all of us should hold on to. And I know that we count on the trucking industry; many people count on the trucking industry. And … you don’t want to let anyone down. It’s the ‘You can rely on me; you can count on me’ mentality.”