Tyler ends streak at 3,769 games to see Ripken
BALTIMORE -- Umpire attendant Ernie Tyler will voluntarily end his consecutive games streak at 3,769 to see another man known for his ability to show up to work every day: Cal Ripken Jr.
Tyler hasn't missed a Baltimore Orioles home game since assuming the position on opening day in 1960. This weekend, however, he will skip the Orioles' two games against the Yankees to be in Cooperstown, N.Y., to see Ripken's induction into the Hall of Fame.
The 83-year-old Tyler will be going as a guest of Ripken, who will pay the bill for the entire weekend.
Ripken, of course, played in 2,632 straight games before voluntarily ending his streak in 1998.
"I saw him was he was 12 years old. I knew his father well," Tyler said Thursday. "What better time to do it than to go now? When I heard he wanted me to go to Cooperstown, how could I say no? The streak doesn't mean that much when you're thinking about your relationship with the Ripken family."
Unlike Ripken's streak, Tyler's was comprised solely from regular-season home games. Throw in exhibition games, the postseason and the 1993 All-Star game, and Tyler will have worked 3,819 successive games before leaving for New York on Saturday.
Tyler can appreciate the irony of having his streak end to see Ripken, who also had the opportunity to determine when to finally sit down.
"If I were ill or got hurt, there might be some remorse," Tyler said. "But under the circumstances, there are no regrets whatsoever. I thought about it for two weeks now, and I'm just overwhelmed and honored to go up there with him."
Tyler won't be at Camden Yards this weekend, but his sons will carry on for him. Jim Tyler is the Orioles clubhouse manager and Fred Tyler tends to the visitor's clubhouse. Ripken asked them to go too, but they couldn't leave because the Yankees are in town.
Ripken had a few close calls in keeping his streak alive, most notably when he twisted his knee trying to break up a 1993 brawl with the Seattle Mariners.
Tyler had some health problems along the way, but the most serious issues occurred during the offseason.
"I had an operation for liver cancer in January 1995," he recalled. "The doctor said, 'Don't worry, Ernie, your streak wont go by the wayside. I'll have you back in April."
Tyler has also had a gall bladder removed and a hernia operation -- both during the winter months.
"God's been on my side, I guess," he said. "One morning I had to say rosary to get out of bed. Sometimes you just don't want to go, but you've got to."
Every home game for 47½ years, Tyler has rubbed up baseballs for umpires and tended to their every need.
"I never thought of it as a streak. I just thought of it as seeing a ballgame," he said. "It's better than being around the house all day, helping with the dishes or mowing the lawn."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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