What gave the baby name Cal a boost in the mid-1990s?

Baseball player Calvin "Cal" Ripken, Jr. (in 1986)
Cal Ripken, Jr.

According to the U.S. baby name data, there was a small spike in the number of babies named Cal in the mid-1990s:

  • 1998: 72 baby boys named Cal
  • 1997: 93 baby boys named Cal
  • 1996: 112 baby boys named Cal
  • 1995: 84 baby boys named Cal
  • 1994: 47 baby boys named Cal


Because of baseball shortstop Calvin “Cal” Ripken, Jr., who spent his entire professional career (1981–2001) with the Baltimore Orioles.

On September 6, 1995, he played his 2,131st game. In doing so, Ripken surpassed Lou Gehrig‘s 56-year-old record for consecutive games played.

The game, played against the California Angels, ended up being one of the most-watched baseball games on ESPN. After the fifth inning (i.e., once the game became official), Ripken received a standing ovation that lasted more than 20 minutes.

Cal Ripken, Jr., shaking the hands of fans during his 2,131st game (Sept. 6, 1995)
Cal Ripken, Jr., during his 2,131st game

It’s hard to say if the usage of the already-popular name Calvin was affected by the event, but the surname Ripken appeared for the first time in the U.S. baby name data in 1997.

At least one baby girl was named in honor of Ripken as well. Cali Drouillard was born in Baltimore on September 5 — the day Ripken tied Gehrig’s record (also while playing against the California Angels). Cali’s mother, Kimberly, said her husband Don came up with the name:

He’s a big fan of the Orioles and he likes Cal Ripken a lot. Her name was supposed to be Alexia.

Two years and hundreds of baseball games later, Cal Ripken finally set the new record: 2,632 consecutive baseball games played from May 30, 1982, to September 19, 1998.

What are your thoughts on the name Cal? Do you like it more or less than Calvin?


Images: President Ronald Reagan Talking with Cal Ripken Jr; Screenshot of ESPN broadcast

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