Cal Ripken on the streak and on Showalter
Cal Ripken Jr. threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Jake Fox on Sunday afternoon, to commemorate the 15th anniversary of Ripken’s record-tying 2,130th consecutive game played on Sept. 5, 1995.
The next day, of course, Ripken broke Lou Gehrig’s record and did his now iconic lap around Camden Yards. Not sure the Yankees will be celebrating that Monday in the Bronx.
The Orioles showed a video display before Ripken came out to a standing ovation from the crowd Sunday. He then threw a strike – from the mound, it should be noted – to Jake Fox.
Afterward, Ripken met with the media, and said it just doesn’t seem like it has been 15 years since the entire baseball world was watching him.
“I keep milking it for whatever it is worth,” Ripken joked. “No, it seems like time has gone by really, really fast. I only realize it when I look at the ages of my kids, because in many other ways it seems like that whole night that happened out here was just a couple years ago. But 15 years? We all get old, and time goes by much faster when you leave the game than it did when you played it.”
Before the game, new Orioles manager Buck Showalter was asked about Ripken and the streak – which ended in 1998 at 2.632 consecutive games.
“It was a record that everybody in baseball celebrated,” Showalter said. “It made you realize, through the years, he had always been there.”
Showalter later added: “It surprises me that anybody was able to do it, but it doesn’t surprise me that Cal was the guy. It ain’t going to happen again. You can count on it.”
Showalter and Ripken played against each other in the minors, and Ripken played for three years against the Showalter-managed Yankees in the early 1990s. In fact, Showalter joked that watching Ripken and Don Mattingly made him realize that he wasn’t going to be a major leaguer. Or last long if he did.
Showalter and Ripken talked on Monday, when Showalter went to Aberdeen to see the Ripken-owned IronBirds, the Orioles’ Short-A affiliate, play.
“Our conversations wouldn’t be that fascinating or interesting to most people,” Ripken said. “We were talking about bunt plays and cutoff relays and when you do the infield in and when you don’t. He turns on my baseball brain in a lot of ways. I always thought Buck was one of the best baseball guys I have ever had a chance to talk to.
Ripken was asked Sunday afternoon whether Showalter’s presence with the Orioles strengthens his interest to join the organization in an executive role, something that has been talked about once Ripken’s son, Ryan, a junior at Gilman, heads to college.
“The answer is yes, kind of, but I still have my timetable that when I retire I want to be there for my kids to go off to college. That’s the timetable I have always set,” Ripken said. “Although there was a lot of rumors and stuff going on early in the season about that being shortened, but certainly I still value the flexibility and the time that I have now. And you wouldn’t have that if you came back to a big league team.”