By Nelson Coffin
Festivities begin at 11 a.m., a full two hours before Ripken, who has lived in Worthington Valley for more than a decade, is slated to appear at the Towson Courthouse Plaza in a parade accompanied by a group of youth baseball and softball players.
Food vendors and musicians will be on hand for fans' enjoyment during the gala that will conclude at 2 p.m.
The event is a warmup for bigger things to come for the longtime shortstop/third baseman, who will become the fifth modern-day Oriole inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame July 29 at a ceremony in Cooperstown, N.Y.
"I don't know if anything will prepare me for (the Hall of Fame induction)," Ripken said. "But the idea of celebrating the upcoming induction with fans throughout the county makes me feel great. We had a similar send-off in (Ripken's native) Harford County, and it was very special. I am really looking forward to this and I appreciate the people of Baltimore County and the County Executive Smith's office for making this happen."
Ripken joins Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson, Jim Palmer and Eddie Murray on the list of immortals for the current incarnation of the Orioles' franchise, which has been a member of the American League since relocating from St. Louis in 1954.
Hughie Jennings and Joe Kelley are the only other Orioles Hall of Fame members, although they starred for Baltimore's National League champions in the 1890s.
And let's not forget Cal's first manager, Earl Weaver, the man who directed Ripken's move from third base to shortstop -- where he spent the vast majority of his career.
Weaver was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1996. Unfortunately for him, Weaver was not on the bench when Ripken caught the final out of the 1983 World Series in which the Orioles beat the Philadelphia Phillies.
Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith will host the event for Ripken in his adopted county.
Despite his celebrity status, Ripken said he and his family -- wife Kelly and teens Ryan and Rachel -- are able to go about their business in the county without too much fanfare.
"Because of the Hall of Fame, it seems like I am getting a lot of attention again and it has all been very nice and positive," Ripken said. "The kids lead normal lives and do all of the things that other kids their ages do.
"I love living here," he added. "When I played, it was close enough to get to Camden Yards quickly, and yet it was a little off the beaten path, so it afforded us some privacy."
Other "Calebr8ion" accoutrements, such as orange No. 8s -- signifying Ripken's uniform number -- were painted on Chesapeake, Washington and Pennsylvania avenues along the parade route and on other roads across Baltimore County.
E-mail Nelson Coffin at Nelson Coffin@patuxent.com