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Sports Then and Now



20 Years Ago: Cal Ripken Jr. Passes the Iron Horse 2

Posted on September 05, 2015 by Dean Hybl
It has been 20 years since Cal Ripken Jr. became baseball's career iron man.

It has been 20 years since Cal Ripken Jr. became baseball’s career iron man.

It is hard to believe that 20 years have passed since Cal Ripken Jr. put Major League Baseball on his back and helped it get past one of the darkest periods in its illustrious history.

On September 5, 1995 Ripken matched the seemingly unbreakable record of Lou Gehrig by playing in his 2,130th consecutive game. After the game became official and the streak numbers on the B&O Warehouse turned to 2,130, he punctuated the night with a sixth inning home run.

The drama was even better the following night as Ripken hit a home run in the fourth inning. Then, with Baltimore leading 3-1 midway through the fifth inning the game was halted for the dramatic unveiling of the number 2,131.

Following the unveiling, the full house at Camden Yards remained on their feet and millions of fans around the world watched as Ripken took several curtain calls and then circled the stadium in a victory lap that became a healing moment for a sport still reeling from the cancellation less than a year earlier of the World Series.

The ovation and lap lasted 22 minutes and was part of the most watched baseball game since the seventh game of the 1986 World Series.

While coming to work every day may not seem as glamorous as a record based more on performance, there was something about the ironman streak that resonated with baseball fans (and still does).

Certainly, part of that is because of the history and heritage from Lou Gehrig, the Iron Horse. The New York Yankees first baseman played in 2,130 consecutive games between 1925 and 1939 with the streak ending only because Gehrig was diagnosed with an incurable disease that ultimately would become known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Read the rest of this entry →

15 Years Ago: Cal Ripken Jr. Restores Magic to Baseball 6

Posted on September 05, 2010 by Dean Hybl

Before officially breaking Lou Gehrig's consecutive game streak on September 6, 1995, Cal Ripken Jr. blasted a home run in the contest against the Angels.

It is probably a bit of an overstatement to say that Cal Ripken Jr. saved major league baseball 15-years ago this week when he passed Lou Gehrig to become baseball’s all-time “Iron Man”. However, there is no question that Ripken played a huge role in the healing process following the most contentious labor strike in baseball history.

Baseball had been riding high in 1994 when a desire by the owners to institute a salary cap and the insistence by the players never to accept one halted the sport in its tracks. The World Series was not held for the first time in 90 years, leaving many fans bitter and vowing never to return to “America’s Pastime.”

The strike carried into the offseason and wasn’t resolved until a federal injunction against the owners leading to the resumption of baseball in late April 1995. Overall, the strike lasted 234 days and cancelled more than 900 games while in essence changing very little.

As could be expected, when baseball did return the fans were not rushing back to greet the players as long-lost heroes.

Instead, fans displayed their disillusion with both sides by staying away in droves as stadiums that were typically full were suddenly seeing large swaths of empty seats. Those who did come to the ballparks often brought with them signs reflecting their frustration with sayings such as “$hame on You” or shouted comments like “You ruined the game!”

For most of the 1995 season teams across the league saw attendance figures plummet as baseball struggled to regain the interest of fans who had realized there were other things to occupy time and interest. Read the rest of this entry →

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