‘The Streak’

The Toronto Blue Jays know a thing or two about Cal Ripken Jr., the ‘Iron Man’ who played in a major-league record 2,632 consecutive games. Ripken was, of course, inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sunday afternoon alongside Tony Gwynn, another player who spent his entire career with one team. On May 29, 1982, the Baltimore Orioles played a doubleheader against the Toronto Blue Jays at Memorial Stadium. Ripken played in the first game, but sat out the second. That would mark the last time he would sit out a game for the next 16-plus years. The following day’s game against Toronto marked the beginning of ‘The Streak’, which would see him play 2,632 straight games until September 20, 1998.

Also impressive was the fact that Ripken played every single inning from May 30, 1982 until September 14, 1987, when he was given an inning off during a blowout loss to … the Toronto Blue Jays, of course.

P1_ripkenCourtesy of SI.com …

"Dad (Cal Sr.) took the responsibility as the manager of the team, he thought it was right to take me out. In actuality when I came off the field after the Blue Jays had hit 10 home runs — a record 10 home runs in a game — we were getting beat very bad in Toronto and I think Dad in the weeks coming up to that thought it was a little bit of a burden that I constantly had to respond… because people started thinking about [my] playing every inning, every game, and there was a certain burden of managing that kind of thing when you came to a new city.

When I came to the bench he asked me, "What do you think of taking an inning off," and I immediately posed the question, "What do you think?" He said, "I think it would be a good thing." And I said, "Fine." And I sat on the bench. Having played in the field so long, naturally, I felt out of place. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know if I should go in and take a shower or should I sit on the bench. It was a weird sort of feeling."

1 Comment

Hey Todd,
Great post. I was on the Blue Jays groundscrew at the time and I remember that game vividly.

As it was near the end of the season we where doing some early prep work to close the park. I think it was about after the fifth home run when we wondered what the **** is going on? Why does the crowd keep cheering? So we ran back out to our spot in the photo dugout to see what was up. We asked one of the photographers what was going on and he said they’ve hit five home runs. Well, back to work we went. But then another home run, another home run, and each time we ran back out to the photo dugout to see who had hit the homer.

Anyways, at the end of the game, I scooped up a bag of dirt from home plate. I still have it today. I once contacted Cooperstown if they were interested in it. They declined!

Regarding Ripken’s inning streak ending, what I remember was after the game in the visitor’s dugout the three Ripkens (don’t forget Billy!) consoling one another. It was clearly a big thing for them that Cal Jr. was taking out of the game.

In my two years on the groundscrew I got to rub shoulders with a lot of the greats of the time, but no one had the aura and respect that Cal Jr. had.

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