Af­ter in­juries piled up, McDon­ald be­came the one who faded away

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - SPORTS - By Nathan Ruiz |

Some­time in the past 30 years, Ben McDon­ald lost track of the piece of pa­per, but the mes­sage Cal Rip­ken Jr. in­scribed on it has stayed with him. McDon­ald, 51, is the only player the Ori­oles have se­lected with the first over­all pick of the Ma­jor League Base­ball draft. That will change Mon­day, when they’ll likely choose from a tal­ented crop of po­si­tion play­ers — in­clud­ing Ore­gon State catcher Ad­ley Rutschman, Texas high school short­stop Bobby Witt Jr. and Cal­i­for­nia first base­man An­drew Vaughn — to make the draft’s first se­lec­tion for the first time since tak­ing McDon­ald, a right-han­der out of LSU, in 1989.

In the weeks that fol­lowed that pick, amid ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween the Ori­oles and McDon­ald’s agent, Scott Bo­ras, Rip­ken wrote McDon­ald a let­ter. En­trenched as the face of the Ori­oles, Rip­ken grew up in nearby Aberdeen and knew what it took to be em­braced in Bal­ti­more. He passed it along to McDon­ald.

“Bal­ti­more’s a blue-col­lar city,” McDon­ald re­called the let­ter read­ing. “You go out and you stay out of trou­ble, you bust your butt ev­ery day, you work as hard as you can ev­ery day, and the peo­ple are go­ing to take to you.

“And boy, was he right.”

That’s the same ad­vice McDon­ald has for whomever the Ori­oles de­cide to make only the sec­ond No. 1 pick in fran­chise his­tory.

1994 BAL­TI­MORE SUN PHOTO

CHRIS MARTINEZ/AP

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