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Sports Then and Now



25 Years Ago: Cal Ripken Jr. Passes the Iron Horse 0

Posted on September 05, 2020 by Dean Hybl

It is hard to believe that a quarter century has 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.

Read the rest of this entry →

Great Baseball All-Star Game Moments: 1990-2019 1

Posted on July 18, 2020 by Dean Hybl
The most memorable moment of the 2001 All-Star Game occurred when Alex Rodriguez convinced Cal Ripken, Jr. to play shortstop. (Photo credit JOHN MABANGLO/AFP/Getty Images)

Over the last three decades, the Major League Baseball All-Star Game has transformed from being simply a game to being a multi-day extravaganza where the game itself is simply one component. For that reason, the game has at times seemed to be anti-climatic, but has still produced some great memories.

After the National League dominated the competition throughout the 1960s and 1970s, including a stretch of 19 victories in 20 games, the rolls have completely reversed in recent years.

The American League has claimed 23 out of the last 30 meetings, including a 13 game winning streak between 1997 and 2009 as well as a current seven game winning streak

In this final installment of the three part series in which we have reminisced about some of the great moments, games and players in All-Star history, we look at the most memorable games of the last three decades. Here are links to part one from 1933-1959 and part two from 1960-1989.

July 10, 1990 (Wrigley Field, Chicago)
The addition of lights at Wrigley Field allowed for the All-Star Game to be played at the storied venue for the first time since 1962.

The lights came in handy as the game endured 85 minutes worth of rain delays, which made it difficult for either team to develop a rhythm or establish a consistent pitching rotation.

The American League used six pitchers and the National League went through nine hurlers in the contest.

The game was scoreless until a two-run double by Julio Franco gave the AL all the runs they needed in posting a 2-0 victory.

July 12, 1994 (Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh)
In one of the most exciting All-Star Games in recent memory, the lead changed hands five times before the National League pulled out the victory in the 10th inning.

The NL jumped to a 4-1 advantage before the AL stormed back to claim a 7-5 lead entering the bottom of the ninth.

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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 →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Stan Jones – Weight Training Trailblazer
      October 11, 2020 | 1:48 pm
      Stan Jones

      The Sports Then and Now Athlete of the Month was one of the great linemen of his era and is considered a trailblazer for using weight training and conditioning to develop his skills.

      After a standout career at the University of Maryland, Stan Jones spent nine seasons as an offensive lineman for the Chicago Bears, making seven Pro Bowl appearances and earning first team All-Pro three times.

      In 1962, assistant coach George Allen suggested Jones move to defense to help solidify that unit for the Bears. He played both ways in 1962 and then in 1963 moved permanently to the defense.

      Read more »

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