Pomrenke: My favorite player, Cal Ripken Jr.

From SABR member Jacob Pomrenke at The National Pastime Museum on January 27, 2014:

After Cal Ripken Jr. tied Lou Gehrig’s “unbreakable” record of 2,130 consecutive games played on September 5, 1995, he told reporters, “I’m not in the business of script-writing, but if I were, this would’ve been a pretty good one.”

On that Tuesday night in Baltimore, the Baltimore Orioles’ future Hall of Fame shortstop punctuated his record-tying appearance with a home run in the bottom of the sixth inning, one of his three hits against the California Angels at Camden Yards. 

The following night, Ripken homered again as he broke Gehrig’s famous mark in front of President Bill Clinton, a national television audience on ESPN, and a sellout crowd of 46,272 at Camden Yards. The game was delayed for 22 minutes in the middle of the fifth inning as Ripken took a memorable celebratory lap around the ballpark. Ripken’s streak was a feel-good tonic that baseball fans craved after losing the 1994 postseason and the start of the 1995 regular season to a labor dispute between players and owners. 

Many great athletes have a flair for the dramatic, but Cal’s sense of it was keener than most. As a native Baltimorean and lifelong Ripken fan, I was fortunate enough to witness many of these special moments throughout his career, especially during key moments of his streak. He was the first great player I was aware of as a baseball fan, and I followed his career closely all the way to Cooperstown.

He performed at his best not just when the spotlight was at its brightest but when his fans were rooting most for him to hit the big home run. As much as any player since Babe Ruth, Ripken lived up to his reputation as a beloved hero who never let his fans down.

Read the full article here: http://www.thenationalpastimemuseum.com/article/my-favorite-player-cal-ripken-jr

Originally published: January 27, 2014. Last Updated: January 27, 2014.