Cal Ripken's mother safe after abduction, according to police

Former Baltimore Orioles great Cal Ripken Jr., left,

Former Baltimore Orioles great Cal Ripken Jr., left, with his wife, Kelly, speaks during a news conference before a Hall of Fame Send-Off ceremony that preceded the Orioles game against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. (July 24, 2007) (Credit: AP)

ABERDEEN, Md. -- The 74-year-old mother of Hall of Fame infielder Cal Ripken Jr. was safe in her car Wednesday, a day after an armed man abducted her from her home northeast of Baltimore, police said.

Investigators do not know what the kidnapper's motive was and no ransom was demanded for Vi Ripken's release, Aberdeen Police Chief Henry Trabert said at a news conference Wednesday.

When asked if police believe the kidnapper knew who he was abducting, Trabert did not answer.

"The motive is unknown at this time. Like I said, the investigators are still out there, this case is still brand new and we are really beginning the investigation," Trabert said.

"We don't know what if any relationship there was between the perpetrator of this crime and the Ripken family," Trabert said.

Police say Vi Ripken was kidnapped between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. Tuesday by a man who forced her into her silver Lincoln Continental. She was found about 6:15 a.m. Wednesday unharmed in her car near her home in Aberdeen, about 30 miles northeast of Baltimore, where her son's Ripken Baseball complex is located. She was found after someone called police about a suspicious vehicle.

Trabert said Vi Ripken was "obviously upset" but would not give more details about how she was found. Trabert said the man drove around the area after the kidnapping, but didn't say if Ripken was in the car.

"How we found her and what she was wearing and whether she was bound at the time we pulled her out of the car we are not releasing at this time," Trabert said. "The investigators are still talking to her and witnesses to determine exactly what happened and where it happened." Vi Ripken described her abductor as a tall, thin white man with glasses wearing camouflage clothing, but police had no other details.

The FBI and Maryland State Police were also involved in the investigation.

"This has been a very trying time for our family, but we are grateful and relieved that mom is back with us, safe and healthy," the Ripken family said in a statement. "We want to thank everyone for their tremendous support, especially all of the law enforcement agencies that worked so hard and quickly." Ripken earned the nickname "Iron Man" for playing in 2,632 consecutive games during his 21-year career with the Baltimore before voluntarily ending the streak in 1998. He retired in 2001. His brother, Bill, played second base in the major leagues.

The two were managed for a time on the Orioles by their father, Cal Ripken Sr., who died in 1999.

The family said that it could not comment further due to the ongoing investigation.

Vi Ripken is founding chairwoman of the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation, which, according to its website, helps to build character for disadvantaged young people.

Besides Cal and Bill, she has another son and a daughter.

Cal Ripken is the chairman and founder of Ripken Baseball, Inc., which he runs along with his brother, Bill. He owns three minor-league baseball teams, including the IronBirds based at the Ripken Baseball complex, which is also home to the annual Cal Ripken World Series for 11- and 12-year-olds. Cal Ripken Baseball is the name for the 5-to-12-year-old division of the Babe Ruth League.

Ripken's business empire also includes youth baseball camps and clinics, a minor-league stadium design firm, a merchandising arm and a charitable foundation. Ripken has no formal role with the Orioles but has spoken about his desire to return to the team.

Ripken works as a studio analyst for TBS during its postseason baseball coverage. He is a pitchman for brands including Energizer, Under Armour and Chevrolet.

Census data shows Aberdeen had a population of about 15,000 in 2010. About 11 percent of the city's population was living below the poverty line.

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