Cal Ripken Jr. Signs Middle Grade Book Deal with Disney Book Group

Disney Book Group will publish a middle-grade baseball series written by National Baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. and co-authored by Baltimore Sun sportswriter Kevin Cowherd. The series will feature characters from a Babe Ruth League team named the “Orioles”. The agreement for world rights was negotiated by Stephanie Owens Lurie, Editorial Director, Disney-Hyperion, an imprint of Disney Book Group, and Ian Kleinert, of Objective Entertainment.

The first book in the series—Hothead—will be published in Winter 2011 under the Disney-Hyperion imprint. It centers on all-star third baseman Connor Sullivan, who has a big problem: his temper. The story was inspired by Cal’s own struggle with frustration as a young player. Additional books will follow every year.

“Working with Kevin and the team from Disney has been a pleasure,” said Ripken. “Connor is a character that I was able to help develop with Kevin based on my experiences as a kid who struggled with his emotions. I hope that the kids reading it find it to be fun and take away a few lessons from it.”

“Cal Ripken Jr. is a living legend, of course, and in his work with kids he has demonstrated a commitment to being a positive influence,” says Lurie. “We are thrilled to have this opportunity to share Cal’s love of baseball and his can-do outlook with young readers.”

Cal Ripken, Jr. was a shortstop and third baseman for the Baltimore Orioles for his entire career (1981-2001), a rare occurrence in Major League Baseball today. Nicknamed “The Iron Man” for his relentless work ethic and reliability on the field, Ripken is most remembered for playing in 2,632 straight games over 17 seasons, shattering New York Yankee Lou Gehrig’s previous record of 2,130 games. He was also a 19-time all-star and is considered to be one of the best shortstops that professional baseball has ever seen. In 2007, when he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, he received the most votes in the history of the Hall of Fame. Since his retirement Ripken has worked as President and CEO of Ripken Baseball, Inc. to nurture the love of baseball in young children on a grassroots level. In August of 2007 Ripken was named American Public Diplomacy Envoy and has since been traveling the world to bring baseball to people everywhere. He currently lives in Maryland with his wife and two children.

Kevin Cowherd has been a writer for the Baltimore Sun since 1987, is nationally syndicated by the Los Angeles Times-Washington Post news service, and is the author of Last Call at the 7-Eleven, a book of selected writings published by Bancroft Press. In 1990 he was honored by the American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors for excellence in feature writing. He currently writes a sports column and blog for the Baltimore Sun. As a sportswriter he is curious about athletes’ private thoughts and emotions. He is also a humorist, and an experienced Little League coach. He lives with his wife and three children near Baltimore.

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