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Is that Rumor about Kevin Costner and Cal Ripken, Jr.'s Wife True?

By Dustin Rowles | Celebrity | February 22, 2023 |

By Dustin Rowles | Celebrity | February 22, 2023 |


Earlier this week, we wrote about what a pain in the ass Kevin Costner has been for not only Yellowstone, but throughout his career. In the comments of that piece, one of our readers, Slobby79, joked, “Just send Cal Ripken jr over with a bat.” The reference rang a few bells in my brain, but I couldn’t quite place it until I looked it up.

“How could I forget?!”

The reference is to a debunked rumor that has nevertheless persisted for so long that the truth of it almost doesn’t matter: It has become urban legend. The legend has persisted for over 25 years now even though both Cal Ripken and Kevin Costner have denied it and despite video evidence disproving it. Nevertheless, there are enough people who continue to believe that it’s repeated and referenced in comments sections all over the Internet and repeated in posts just like this one a half a dozen times a year.

Two years ago, there was even a six-episode podcast devoted to the rumor set off by an off-duty cop who was told the rumor was true. Ultimately, that podcast became as much about the resilience of conspiracy theories as the Ripken/Costner rumor, and it’s easy to see why: No matter how many times its been disproven, there’s always a guy who knows a guy who knows for a fact that it’s true. Hell, a commenter named Slobby79 on a site called Pajiba sent me down an hours-long rabbit hole, and not only did I want to learn more about the rumor, I wanted to find evidence of its truth!

In 1997, in the midst of Cal Ripken’s record-setting streak of consecutive games played (the one baseball record that will likely never be broken), there was a minor power outage in the stadium, which resulted in the game’s postponement because a few bulbs in one bank of lights couldn’t be lit. This is true. There is no dispute about it. The rumor, however, is that the power outage was a cover story used to postpone the game so that Ripken’s then 2,431 consecutive games streak wouldn’t be broken. Why would it be broken? The rumor goes that Ripken — a guy known as baseball’s Iron Man who had never had a whiff of controversy surrounding him — couldn’t play because he got in a fight with Kevin Costner after catching him that afternoon sleeping with his wife.

Again, the rumor is not true, at least according to Costner, who once called into a radio show to vehemently deny it. “I thought at first you guys were saying this was true, and if you were, I was going to take your heads off. If there is something alleged, I’d love to see someone come forward. No one will, because they don’t have the story to do it. There would be big money for a story like this, but it simply is not true.”

Ripken, has publicly denied it, too. “It’s easy to check the facts of that one. I remember it very well. The bank of lights went off and Randy Johnson was pitching for the Seattle Mariners. And we were deciding what to do about that. Was there enough visible light out there to actually see a guy throwing over 100 miles per hour? The bank was just over our dugout. And I physically went out and tested it for the umpire. I was in discussion with the umpires. I was definitely there, I was ready to play. I definitely was there. And I’m sure I was on camera a number of times being out on the field.”

There sure are a lot of details in that denial. But, OK, sure: So he was there. But could he actually play? Costner and Ripken were friends, after all, having met each other at the Dances with Wolves premiere, and the story is that Costner got around a lot in between his two marriages. Also, nobody knows why there was a power outage, and why it affected only one bank of lights. Costner had also reportedly been to Ripken’s house to play pick-up games, and though there was video evidence of Ripken’s presence, at least one spectator in the stadium that night says he wasn’t there.

This, folks, is exactly how rumors persist. Snopes debunked the rumor in 2015, which should have put the rumor to bed. However, according to the NYPost, Snopes is a purveyor of misinformation, so I guess we’ll never know if the fact-checkers are right, or if that guy on a Reddit board who says he was there is right.

Hat Tip: Slobby79

Header Image Source: Getty Images