Unplugged from the protocol and peer pressure of the clubhouse, Ripken talked deep into the night over plastic bottle after plastic bottle. He marveled at his daughter's courage upon receiving stitches; recalled the friendliness of minor league towns in North Carolina ("It's probably where I'd live if I didn't live in Maryland"); debunked the popular notion that shortstops love to low-bridge runners on double plays ("A lot of times you throw from down low because that's where you get the feed"); revealed a nugget from his amazingly vast catalog of knowledge of opponents ("The one guy who ran down the line hard every single time was Robin Yount"); and expressed the pain he has felt when accused of selfishness during the Streak ("It will probably die down, especially this year, but I felt everything I worked for as a team player was taken away in the minds of some people").
By the time he motored off in that van, it was 1:30 in the morning, and Ripken had left no doubt what fuels his engine: family and the playing of the game of baseball. Simple passions. He is a player for all time, though never more needed than in the present.