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Ripken brought stability to shortstop position

 Boston vs. Baltimore
Cal Ripken Jr. is honored by the Baltimore fans before playing his final game (Courtesy: MLB).
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Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Tip your cap to baseball's new Iron Man
By Nick Acocella
Special to

Signature Game
Sept. 6, 1995 - Baltimore's iron man replaced the Yankees' Iron Horse when Cal Ripken played in his 2,131st consecutive game, bettering the record that Lou Gehrig held for 56 years.

In the fourth inning, Ripken homered. After the California Angels were retired in the fifth inning, with Baltimore leading, Game No. 2,131 was official and Camden Yards erupted. Ripken's presentation of his jersey and cap to his wife and two young children brought waves of warm applause from the sellout crowd of 46,272, including President Bill Clinton and Joe DiMaggio.

Cal Ripken Jr.
Cal Ripken Jr. literally reached out and touched baseball fans on the night he broke Lou Gehrig's record.
When Ripken headed for the dugout, several teammates pushed him out. And then the Orioles shortstop, who began the streak 13 years ago, began an impromptu trot around the perimeter of the ballpark. Ripken slapped the hands of dozens of strangers in his 10-minute jog. A sign in the stands said: "We consider ourselves the luckiest fans on the face of the earth. Thanks Cal."

The ovation for Ripken lasted 22 minutes and 15 seconds.

In a postgame ceremony, DiMaggio said, "Wherever my old teammate Lou Gehrig is today, I'm sure he's tipping his cap to you, Cal Ripken."

The streak will reach 2,632 games before Ripken decides to sit out late in the 1998 season.

Odds 'n' Ends

  • As a senior at Aberdeen High School, when he wasn't playing shortstop, Ripken pitched. He was 7-2 with an 0.70 ERA with 100 strikeouts in 60 innings.

  • Besides starring in baseball at Aberdeen, Ripken also was an all-county soccer player.

  • Ripken hit .280 in his four minor league seasons.

  • He holds the Baltimore record for most hits in a season -- 211 in 1983.

  • In 1984 he set an American League record for most assists by a shortstop (583).

  • In the same year, on May 6, he hit for the cycle.

  • Ripken and his brother Billy played 663 games together in the Orioles middle infield. They turned 287 double plays, the most ever by brothers.

  • In 1987 they became the first siblings to be managed together in the major leagues by their father.

  • On June 15, 1989, the brothers teamed up for a triple play against the Yankees.

  • On Sept. 15, 1990, the brothers homered in the same inning. They are one of only five sets of brothers to accomplish that feat.

  • In his 1991 MVP season, Cal also was named the Major League Player of the Year by The Sporting News, the Associated Press and Baseball Digest.

  • He also won the first of two Gold Gloves that season.

  • In 1992, Ripken became the 22nd recipient of the Roberto Clemente Award, presented each year to the player who best exemplifies -- through his sportsmanship, community involvement and contribution to his team and to the sport -- the game of baseball.

  • Ripken's 278th home run, the one that put him number at the top of the list of all shortstops, is commemorated by an orange seat in the lower boxes of Camden Yards where it landed. The blow came against Scott Erickson of Minnesota.

  • On May 28, 1996, he hit three homers and had a career-high eight RBI in a 12-8 victory over Seattle.

  • Seventeen days later, he set a world record for most consecutive games played when he appeared in his 2,216th straight contest. He passed the mark of third baseman Sachio Kinugasa, who played with the Hiroshima Carp in the Japanese Central League.

  • In two AL Division Series (1996 and 1997) Ripken went 15-for-34. His .441 average is the highest for all players with 20 or more at-bats.

  • In three AL Championship Series (1983, 1996 and 1997), he hit .328, but managed just one homer and four RBI in 58 at-bats.

  • In his only World Series appearance (1983) he batted just .167 in five games.

  • Only 18 major leaguers were in the big leagues when Ripken's consecutive streak began on May 30, 1982 and ended on Sept. 20, 1998.

  • During the streak, Ripken was ejected three times (all for arguing a strike call), twice in the first inning.

  • From the start of his record streak until he went on the disabled list on April 20, 1998, major league players made 5,045 trips to the DL.

  • Over Ripken's consecutive game streak the Dow Jones average rose 7,076.12 points, from 819.54 to 7,895.66.

  • Ripken is one of only 10 players to hit at least 20 homers in their first full 10 seasons.

  • Among his defensive records at shortstop are leading the AL in putouts six times, in assists seven times and in double plays eight times. He also has the most career double plays by an AL shortstop (1,565).

  • Ripken's oddest record is most at-bats (646) without a triple, in 1989.

  • Ripken grounded into 350 double plays, breaking Hank Aaron's major league record.

  • Four times he led the majors in fan voting for the All-Star Game.

  • On June 13, 1999 Ripken collected six hits, including two homers, against the Atlanta Braves.

  • Ripken ended his career in 2001 in a 2-for-48 slide, including an 0-for-33 drought that was the longest hitless streak of his career.

  • The Ripken Museum, located in City Hall in Aberdeen, Md., is the official repository of Ripken family memorabilia. The museum officially opened Dec. 6, 1996.

  • In July 1999, Babe Ruth Baseball Inc. changed the name of its largest division from "Bambino" to "Cal Ripken Baseball."

  • Ripken married Kelly Greer on Nov. 13, 1987. They have two children, Rachel and Ryan.

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