Jun 10, 2009

Most Memorable Sports Moment #7

Cal Ripken Breaks Lou Gehrig's Iron Man Streak

I am an avid baseball fan and have been since I was 6 years old. Much of my generation of baseball however is defined by steroid allegations, labor strikes, and cancelled World Series. Baseball in my generation has given us some of the greatest talents to ever play the game - Arod, Jeter, Griffey Jr., Brett, Clemens, and Nolan Ryan. However, one of the greatest has got to be Cal Ripken Jr. Ripken defined baseball for much of this generation. Rookie of the Year, 2-time AL MVP, and 19-time All-Star. He was the face of the Baltimore Oriole franchise in an era marked by free agency and players leaving for higher dollars. He was a sure fielder at shortstop without possessing great defensive skills. He just seemed to always know where the ball would be hit.

Cal will best be remembered as this generation's Iron Man. He broke a record that many believed would be impossible in this baseball generation - the consecutive games played streak of Lou Gehrig. Gehrig played 2,130 consecutive games for the Yankees in his career. Ripken's streak began on May 30, 1982, as a rookie. Few had any idea how many games he would play and how much of an impact he would have on the game. On September 6, 1995, much of the world watched as in the middle of the 5th inning, the game became official and Cal had played in 2,131 straight games. 13 years with no visits to the DL, no games sat out to rest. He just wanted to play each and every game. He played through injuries and slumps. He played in the late season games when the Orioles were long out of the postseason picture. He played because he loved to play, just like when we were kids. On September 20, 1998, Ripken quietly ended his own streak at 2,632 games.

Growing up, I wasn't a huge Ripken fan. He didn't play on my favorite team or put up incredible stats. It wasn't until later that I began to appreciate the significance of Ripken on the game. Like most, I was watching an otherwise uneventful game on September 6. It wasn't a huge game with postseason implications. However, it was the opportunity to tell my kids that I saw one of the greatest moments in sports. Thanks Cal for showing us all not only how to play the game, but how to treat it right in the process.


Haines said...

I remember where I was at. I was in JUCO and our coach made us watch the game because he said "HISTORY" was being made. What a great accomplishment. Im enjoying your countdown.

Is #1 your little brother winning a state title and finishing 7th in the nation? LOL! I know. It will be the Sox undefeated season this year.