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Sept. 6 marks the 20th anniversary of Cal Ripken Jr. breaking Lou Gehrig's consecutive games streak, and Stan "The Fan" Charles posed a question on Facebook, asking fans to share their memories of 2,130, 2,131 and "The Streak" as a whole.
Cal is the only man to make work ethic cool. Seeing him officially break the streak was a moment that re-set the bar for an entire generation of sports fans, in terms of what a hero looks like.
It was one of my most memorable moments in covering sports for more than 30 years. I watched the games with Vince Bagli and Chuck Thompson on the TV and radio levels. WSBA-AM, 910, did our sports-talk shows from 3 p.m. to the Orioles' pregame from the far left booth and stayed in the booth for the game. Chuck did the pregame, but he didn't want to sit in the press box and stuck his head in, and we invited him to stick around. It was a great experience.
I was there for 2,130. I had gone downtown to just soak up the ambiance. I struck up a conversation at Pickles with an older gentleman from York, Pa. He and his wife came down, and he was telling me stories of Brooks Robinson playing in York. I told him that Brooks was my idol, and his wife kissed me on top of my head, told her husband she was walking back to the hotel ... and she handed me her ticket. I sat next to her husband that night and stayed in touch with them for the next 11 years until they had both passed. It's an absolutely true story.
I was assigned live shots for WJZ the day of 2,130, the day of 2,131 and the day after. We were set up below the numbers on Eutaw Street. A steady stream of people came to look at those numbers and take pictures. Many wept. It was Cal's record but very personal to O's fans.
I was there at 2,131. What I remember was Cal hitting a home run in the 2,130 record-tying game the night before and deciding right then I had to find a way into the ballpark the next day. Then, watching him in-person rise to the occasion and hit another one out during the 2,131 game was just great. And, of course, I remember all the games that season he spent afterwards signing autographs from near the dugout long after everyone else had disappeared into the locker room. I don't think Lou would've minded seeing his streak getting broken by Cal one bit.
I was there for 2,130 and 2,131. I recall the pregame energy being greater than any World Series game. There must have been 200 photographers on the field as Cal first walked out of the dugout. There were tons of celebrities. I was on the flag court when 2,131 came down, just in front of an ESPN camera, which caught my reaction. I picked up some confetti and kept it along with my tickets. The ovation and victory lap were something. It was definitely a night to remember.
I was on vacation with my wife in North Carolina that week, and as was prearranged, I returned home to cover both 2,130 and 2,131. After the record-breaking game, I remember standing in the hall beneath the stadium looking at all of the assembled media who were waiting for Cal to speak. He had just walked up and had paused next to me. He was there for but a moment, but I had time to say that I thought his dad would be proud. He said "thanks" and walked into the lights.
I was there at 2,131. I think my hands still hurt from the clapping.
I was there for both games. In early April that year, I figured out the dates using the O's schedule, went to the Ticketron outlet at Marley Station and bought tickets. The rest of the summer, I marked the days off on the calendar, prayed Cal wouldn't get hurt, prayed for no rainout, make-up games, prayed again that the skies would be clear both nights.
God clearly was an O's fan that season.
The night of 2,130, I had goosebumps when the number changed on the warehouse wall. The next night, my goosebumps had goosebumps.
I still have my tickets in plastic frames.
I was nine months pregnant with my soon-to-be 20-year-old son. My husband got me tickets to 2,130, because I have always been a huge Cal Ripken fan. Needless to say, each time I had to go to the bathroom was an adventure ... for me and everyone in my row.
I was there for both. A really good friend got the tickets and gave me two for each. Thanks, Robin. I'll never forget. Besides the home runs, the best moment is too easy. The victory lap is indelibly etched in my, and likely everyone else's, mind.