As a video commemorating Cal Ripken Jr.’s 2,131st consecutive game played on the video board at Camden Yards before Tuesday’s game, Ripken sat inside a VIP room under the seating bowl and watched quietly, reliving the historic moment of 20 years ago on a television set.
Ripken admitted to getting teary-eyed watching the video, seeing his late father, Cal Sr. watch from a suite and seeing how young his children, Rachel and Ryan, were at the time. He watched himself take his memorable lap around the ballpark, rounding the left-field foul pole before leaving the room to speak with the media.
“I really hadn’t taken the time to prepare for this, so I was wondering if that was the right preparation,” Ripken said.
The Orioles celebrated the 20th anniversary of Ripken breaking Lou Gehrig’s consecutive-games streak before Tuesday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays. Ripken played in his 2,131st straight game on Sept. 6, 1995.
Ripken jerseys filled the crowd. The numbers 2,131 hung from the side of the Camden Yards warehouse, just as they did on that night 20 years ago.
After the video ended, the focus almost immediately turned to the Orioles dugout down the first-base line, camera phones focused where Ripken would emerge to throw the ceremonial first pitch.
Ripken, who joked to reporters that his throw might not reach the plate because he fell off his bike and landed on his throwing shoulder earlier in the day, threw the first pitch from halfway in front of the mound to longtime friend Brady Anderson to a rousing ovation.
Ripken said he still believes that a player will come along one day to break his record, but two decades later, no one will come close for another decade. Orioles third baseman Manny Machado owns baseball’s longest active streak at 132 games.
Still, 20 years is a long time, long enough that an entire generation wasn’t alive for the Streak. Ripken, whose post-playing days have been dedicated to youth baseball, said that most young people he encountered know about his accolades, but admitted, “Sometimes I have to get them to Google me.”