May 30, 2012
The Anniversary of a Streak
Thirty years ago today, 21-year-old Cal Ripken, Jr. suited up as the starting third baseman for the Baltimore Orioles after having sat out the second game of a twi-night doubleheader against the Blue Jays the night before. The missed game was Ripken's third such of the season. The rookie was batting .238 with a .384 slugging. That Sunday afternoon, Ripken played in all nine innings of the Jays' one-hit victory, going 0-for-2 with a walk, a strikeout, two putouts and an assist. There was hardly anything special about it.
The next time Ripken would sit for even an inning—save for the ninth-inning of a June 4, 1982, game when Ripken was pinch-hit for by Jim Dwyer (who struck out against Terry Felton)—was September 14, 1987, five-and-a-half years later. In an 18-3 blowout of the O's manager Cal Ripken, Sr. benched Ripken Jr. in the eighth inning, replaced by Ron Washington. Ripken had played in 8,243 consecutive innings between the two dates.
The next time Ripken would miss an entire game was September 20, 1998, when Ryan Minor made the start at third-base in his place. He had famously played in 2,632 consecutive games in the 16+ years, winning a Rookie of the Year award and two Most Valuable Players awards in the meantime. It's a phenomenal streak that will be near-impossible to break. Currently, the leader in consecutive games played is Prince Fielder with 230.
On that morning thirty years ago, this story appeared in newspapers around the country:
Baseball stars spending more time on injured list
During Ripken's streak, the disabled list was used 5,045 times.