Kid Reporters

From Baseball to Books

TIME For Kids catches up with baseball legend turned author, Cal Ripken Jr.

March 24, 2011

Baseball great Cal Ripken Jr. has a new job: children's book author. His novel, Hothead, is about a young ballplayer who has temper issues. Growing up, Ripken did too. "You have to try to make it work for you in a positive way," Ripken says.

Ripken learned to control his temper on the field. He became a baseball legend for playing a record 2,632 games in a row. Now he wants to let his readers know that they too can tackle their troubles and achieve success. TFK Kid Reporter Sahil Abbi got the scoop on Ripken's new novel and his life advice for young people.

TFK:

What inspired you to write Hothead?

CAL RIPKEN:

Writing gives you the chance to teach kids valuable lessons. The first lesson kids will learn from reading this book is how to control their tempers.

TFK:

Why did you decide to give your main character a bad temper?

RIPKEN:

Many kids have a problem with losing their tempers. I was one. So I first looked inside myself. I had an issue to deal with as a young man. Where do I put this frustration when things don't go well? My parents helped me to channel my energy into positive things.

TFK:

Did your father inspire you to play baseball?

RIPKEN:

Yes, the relationship between Connor and his dad is similar to the relationship between my dad and me, even though my dad was in professional baseball. Many people think my father pressured me into playing, but he just exposed me to a lot of what was going on in baseball. And he encouraged me to continue to play. One of the things he did was try to reduce the pressure on me.

TFK:

After being such a successful athlete, what made you want to write a novel for children?

RIPKEN:

Kid Reporter
Sahil Abbi

I wanted to communicate a lesson that I learned as a kid and that I think will be helpful to other kids.

TFK:

Do you plan on writing more children's books?

RIPKEN:

We have a second book that's almost finished right now. We haven't quite decided on the name, but it's along the lines of Supersize Slugger. It's about a kid who is overweight and gets bullied.

TFK:

As a kid did you aspire to be an author or an athlete?

RIPKEN:

An athlete. I laugh internally when I think of myself as an author. I like communicating a story and a message. And I love the fact that I have someone who knows how to write and can help me shape the book and turn it into something special. Kevin Cowherd really did that for us.

TFK:

As a kid, who did you look up to?

RIPKEN:

My childhood hero was a guy by the name of Brooks Robinson. He was known as the human vacuum cleaner because every ball that was hit down to the hot corner, he was able to suck it up like a vacuum cleaner would. He was one of the most popular [Baltimore] Oriole players. I liked him because he was always nice. He was always a good guy on and off the field.

TFK:

What advice do you have for aspiring authors and athletes?

RIPKEN:

Whether you want to become an author or an athlete, you've got to work hard. You've got to prepare. There are really no shortcuts. It's all about how much work you put in. Writing is not easy. You have to write and rewrite, and go through different drafts over and over again. Once you do that, you start to learn. As an athlete, you have to practice. Many people just want to play the game, and they forget about the practice. The practice and the preparation are the most important parts of writing and playing ball.


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