Volume 92, Issue 12
Thursday, September 24, 1998
write all about it
Cal does it his way
In 1996 Cal Ripken Jr. wrote a book titled The Only Way I Know and on Sunday night at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Ripken did it the only way he knows how with class.
After 16 years and 2,632 games, Cal Ripken Jr. decided it was time. Ripken sat out Monday night's game against the New York Yankees on his own terms.
Although for years since the streak began on May 30, 1982, there has been increasing pressure from critics, calling for Ripken to sit out "for the good of the team," there was no pressure from coaches, teammates or fans. Cal Ripken Jr. decided it was time.
Right before game time Ripken walked into his manager Ray Miller's office and said he was going to sit this game out. Ripken's name which has probably been typed into the shipment of Oriole scorecards for the last 16 years had already been penciled in. Cal decided it was time.
It seems odd Ripken would have chosen a week before the season's conclusion to end the streak since it would appear to be in no way distracting from the wild card race the Orioles have been out of for over a week. Cal Ripken decided the streak had become too much an entity in and of itself. He decided it was a distraction for his teammates as well as himself and the steel blue-eyed superman felt the time had come to end it and celebrate it with is fans.
Ripken must have felt it only fitting that the streak end where it began in front of the home town crowd in Baltimore, who have been so loyal to him in return for his loyalty to the Birds.
When the public announcer at the ballpark called out the starting line-ups the fans in the stands must have been initially shocked when the fifth slot in the line-up was not filled by their everyday hero. Even the announcer probably thought it was some kind of sick joke when he got the sheet.
However, after the initial shock subsided and the first out of the game was recorded indicating Cal would in fact not be taking the field, the Oriole faithful stood to their feet and cheered as did both benches for a man who had epitomized the working man for 16 unforgettable years.
On Sept. 6, 1995, when Cal Ripken broke Lou Gehrig's long standing streak, he was praised for his dedication to the game and his ability to almost single-handedly return the game to its pre-strike glory days. Cal Ripken circled the field that cool autumn eve, blue eyes welling up just as they must have Sunday night.
Ripken took a day off, not in an attempt to cure any nagging injury or to get over the common cough. Instead, Ripken sat in an attempt to get the game back to its roots. For too long he felt the streak was the centre of attention and it was time to make the Baltimore Oriole baseball team the focal point.
When Cal Ripken hangs up his cleats for the final time and his likeness is polished and hung on the wall in the hallowed halls of Cooperstown, New York, Cal Ripken Jr. will not be remembered as a streak. He will be remembered as a man who loved to go to work everyday and give it all he had. He will be remembered for his tireless work with charity. He will be remembered as a team player. However, most of all, Cal Ripken Jr. will be remembered as a hero.
Monday night at the SkyDome Ripken began over again. By mid-July in 2014 he could break his own record. Impossible? For Cal Ripken Jr. nothing is impossible.
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Copyright © The Gazette 1998