How Detroit Tigers' Jonathan Schoop models game after Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr.

Evan Petzold
Detroit Free Press

Detroit Tigers second baseman Jonathan Schoop knows he isn't "Iron Man," but that doesn't mean he hasn't done everything in his power to get as close as possible.

Not Robert Downey Jr. from the Marvel movies.

But rather the "Iron Man," better known as Cal Ripken Jr., a 19-time All-Star, two-time American League MVP and 1983 World Series champ. The 28-year-old understands he won't match Ripken's accolades and has the utmost respect for him.

"The thing he did, nobody can do," Schoop said Tuesday. "You got to tip your cap to him."

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Instead, he's just trying to replicate his durability in the 60-game season.

"In baseball, nobody is 100%," Schoop, who spent parts of six seasons with Ripken's Baltimore Orioles, said. "Something hurts every day. I like to play every day. I like to go out there and enjoy the game I love to play."

Tigers second baseman Jonathan Schoop fist bumps center fielder JaCoby Jones after hitting a two-run home run against the Royals during the third inning at Comerica Park on Tuesday, July 28, 2020.

From May 30, 1982, to Sept. 19, 1998, Ripken played in 2,632 consecutive games, the most in MLB history. He finished his 21-year career with 3,001 games.

Meanwhile, these three things are at the top of Schoop's agenda: playing the sport he's loved since he was 4; competing against some of the best in the world and winning.

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He helped the Tigers do that Tuesday with a 442-foot home run to the shrubs in center field at Comerica Park, leading to a 4-3 victory against the Kansas City Royals. The team improved to 3-2 overall.

"For us to get a lot of wins, it takes a team. It's going to take us as a team to come together, believe in each other, fight for each other and be there for each other."

Schoop is 5-for-19 with one homer and three RBIs through five games. In 121 games with Minnesota Twins last season, he hit .256 with 23 home runs and 59 RBIs. He was brought to the Tigers this offseason because of his leadership, but he still has a bit of pop in his bat.

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"I watch him in BP, and he makes it look so easy," manager Ron Gardenhire said Tuesday. "We saw it from the other side last year when he was killing us. We're happy to have him.

"He wants to play every inning of every game. He doesn't ever want to come out. He's a baseball lifer. So he's a classy guy, a fun guy to have on the team. A good leader, talks to all the players and has fun, but he wants to be out there. That means a lot for a manager."

Tigers second baseman Jonathan Schoop tags out the Royals shortstop Adalberto Mondesi during the ninth inning of the Tigers' 4-3 win at Comerica Park on Tuesday, July 28, 2020.

In his first full season with the Orioles in 2014 — he had a five-game stint in 2013 — he played 137 games — followed by 86 the next season. However, he played all 162 in the 2016 season.

For him, that was special.

"The next year, I played 160," he said. "If you're out there, you can have your team, have your team win."

Schoop felt inspired by Ripken when he arrived in Baltimore as a 21-year-old, but he looked up to outfielder Adam Jones, already an All-Star, and found camaraderie with third baseman Manny Machado, who is a year younger than Schoop. 

From 2015-19, Machado — who signed a 10-year, $300 million deal with the San Diego Padres in 2019 — has only missed 17 games. He also played 156 in 2013 before taking the field for just 82 contests in 2014. 

Jones played 149 games or more each year from 2010-14, including all 162 in 2012. He now is signed with the Orix Buffaloes in Japan.

But nobody will ever compare to Ripken.

"That's the guy everybody watches," Schoop said, "and tries to play as many games possible like him."

Evan Petzold is a sports reporting intern at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold