Ripken’s 1000th consecutive game put him in rare company

Part of the INSIDE PITCH series
Written by: Kristen Gowdy

At first glance, June 25, 1988 was an unremarkable day for the Baltimore Orioles, as the team lost to the eventual American League East champion Boston Red Sox 10-3 in the second of a three game series at Fenway Park.

Even though the loss prevented the struggling Orioles from beginning just their fourth winning streak of the season, one streak remained unbroken – as Cal Ripken appeared in his 1,000th consecutive game, a feat that only five other players in the history of Major League Baseball had accomplished at the time.

While the loss to the Red Sox dropped Baltimore to 25 games back on the American League East leading Detroit Tigers, it helped elevate Ripken to a level of elite players that then consisted of only Lou Gehrig, Everett Scott, Steve Garvey, Billy Williams, and Joe Sewell.

Ripken’s 1,000th consecutive appearance was one of his biggest achievements en route to his 2,632 game milestone. The moment came, however, during a season in which Baltimore finished with a 54-107 record and last in the overall MLB standings.

On the day that the Red Sox handed the Orioles their 53rd loss of the season, Ripken stepped onto the field in the top of the first inning to face Red Sox starter Bruce Hurst with one out and left fielder Pete Stanicek on second base. On a 3-1 count, Ripken blasted a two-run home run over the Green Monster to give the Orioles a 2-0 lead.

Baltimore relinquished its only lead of the game as Boston rallied for a three-run third inning, but the Orioles responded with a solo shot from Eddie Murray in the top of the fourth to tie the score. The game remained knotted until the bottom of the eighth, when the Red Sox scored seven runs on seven hits.

At the time, Ripken had no way of knowing that this game would springboard him into the rest of his illustrious career. The Iron Man would play 12 more seasons with the Baltimore Orioles before retiring in 2001 as one of baseball’s all-time greats. His streak still stands today, and Miguel Tejada is the only player in the last two decades to appear in more than 1,000 consecutive games, doing so with 1,152 appearances between the 2000 and 2007 seasons.

Though Ripken’s streak is by far his most famous achievement, his father, Cal Sr., wanted his son to be immortalized not by the number of games he played in, but through the character with which he played them.

“I hope he’s remembered for his consistency, his desire to help the team win and his accomplishments in the game, and not just the streak,” Ripken Sr. told the Washington Post in 1995. “When Lou Gehrig’s name is mentioned today, the first thing you think of is his streak. Well, Lou Gehrig was a tremendous ballplayer. Cal has been very consistent, year in and year out. I hope that’s how he is remembered.”

Kristen Gowdy was a public relations intern in the Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

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Part of the INSIDE PITCH series