If you’re into trivia, you should add a few facts to your Annapolis arsenal: Chris Wallace and Cal Ripken Jr. are both Annapolitans now. What’s more? They both get “hangry”, they both followed in their father’s footsteps, and both have been nervous doing their jobs. As they sat side-by-side on the Francis Scott Key auditorium stage of St. John’s College as part of the school’s Great Conversations series on March 5th, their bellies may have rumbled, but whether that was from laughter or hunger was unknown.
Chris and Cal had a bond that went beyond just formal acquaintances, but has been formed over countless dinner parties, a memorable living room interview, mutual respect, and similar paternal relationships.
Wallace, 71, is the host of “Fox News Sunday,” previously a moderator of “Meet the Press” on NBC, and most recently moderated the 2016 Presidential Debate. Sitting across from the Iron Man, he clearly had the upper hand. A master questioner and crafter of discussions, he had been in this position many times before. Likewise, it was in his blood—his father, Mike Wallace, carved out a seven-decade career largely as one of the original correspondents for CBS’ 60 minutes.
“My father was a superstar… at one point I told myself, you know what, you’re probably not going to be Mike Wallace but neither is anybody else. And I was OK with it,” Chris reflected. “Work ethic, preparedness, professionalism are all things I learned from my dad.”
Cal Ripken Jr. was the spawn of a similar legend with an unfaltering dedication to his craft. Cal Ripken Sr. served 36 years with the Baltimore Orioles organization as a coach and manager. He too passed good habits onto his son, so much so that it was something Wallace remembered from interviewing them both in years past. “I remember your father saying something along the lines of, ‘Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect,’” Chris recalled, “Does that ring a bell?”
“That was definitely my ‘Pops,” Cal said. “It wasn’t his words. It was his actions. He was a doer. I tell my kids, ‘you have the power in your own hands.’ Don’t sit around and talk about it. It’s OK to strategize, but at some point, you just gotta jump in and do it.”
Although many of the questions were directed towards Cal and his athletic accomplishments, he made sure to give Chris the chance to speak on his own experience as well. Wallace meditated on his encounter with Mother Theresa, his hopes for reporting in 2020, the state of the media, and “fake news.”
Wallace concluded the evening with a poignant metaphor that everyone in the room, from baseball fans to St. John’s College scholars could understand; “We [reporters] can’t be players in the field. Our job is to be the umpire. When we get mixed up in the action, we weaken our position and strengthen our critics because it does seem like we have an ax to grind when our only job should be to report the truth.”
For information on other great events hosted by St. John’s College throughout the year, be sure to check out their events calendar online.
Images courtesy of Tony J. Photography