On This Day in History May 30, 1982: Baltimore Orioles rookie third baseman Cal Ripken Jr., took the field in front of 21,632 fans at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore against the Toronto Blue Jays, for the first of what would become his record setting 2,632 games played in a row. Ripken would go 0-2 with a walk and a strikeout. Not a very auspicious start to his "Iron Man" streak.
Ripken would continue to make history in 1982 when Orioles manager Earl Weaver moved him from third base to shortstop. In doing so, the position of shortstop would forever be changed form a "good glove, no hit" position to a position where both defense and offense became the norm. Ripken would go on to win the 1982 American League Rookie of the Year Award with a slashline of .264/.317/.475 with 28 homeruns and 93 RBI.
Ripken would reach the mark of 2131 consecutive games played set by the Iron Horse Lou Gehrig in 1939 on September 6, 1995 in front of the hometown crowd at Orioles Park at Camden Yards. Ripken's streak would come to an end when he voluntarily took himself out of the lineup on September 19, 1998.
Ripken would retire at the end of the 2001 season and to no one's surprise, was inducted to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007 garnering 98.53% of the vote (537/545 ballots) for third best all-time after Tom Seaver (98.84%) and Nolan Ryan (98.79%).
Though in theory players today are bigger, faster and stronger than players of yesteryear, I don't see anyone being durable enough to play in enough consecutive games to reach the lofty goal of 2,632 games. What do you think folks. Anyone want to take a stab at a guess?
Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
For Further Reading:
- Cal Ripken Jr's career statistics from Baseball Reference.com
- The Boxscore from the Toronto Blue Jays vs. Baltimore Orioles game from May 30, 1982 courtesy of Baseball Reference.com
- Ripken breaks record for consecutive games played from History.com
- Streak Scene 2,131: Ripken Passes Gehrig from the Baltimore Sun Archives website
- It's Over: Ripken Sits Out After 2,632 Games by Richard Justice of the Washington Post dated September 21, 1998
- Calling his own number, Ripken ends the streak by Roch Kubatko of the Baltimore Sun dated September 27, 1998
- Baseball Hall of Fame BBWAA Voting Percentages from Baseball Almanac.com