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Ripken top fives

BaseballMinnesota TwinsOriole Park at Camden YardsSeattle MarinersAlex RodriguezBaltimore Orioles

Noteworthy home runs

1. Sept. 6, 1995, against the California Angels' Shawn Boskie. Who cares if it was a meatball served up in a 2-1 game? On the night he broke Lou Gehrig's consecutive-games streak, with the world watching and flashes popping, Ripken hit the pitch from Boskie over the left-field wall.

2. Sept. 2, 1999, against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays' Rolando Arrojo. A three-run homer in the third inning deep down the left-field line was the 400th of Ripken's career. He was the 29th player to reach the mark.

3. July 10, 2001, against the Los Angeles Dodgers' Chan Ho Park. It was perhaps the most dramatic moment of his farewell season. Ripken led off the third inning of his final All-Star Game and had to step out of the batter's box for an elongated ovation from the Safeco Field crowd in Seattle. He then homered on the first pitch he saw from Park. He was named the game's MVP.

4. April 5, 1982, against the Kansas City Royals' Dennis Leonard. In the first at-bat of his first Orioles Opening Day, Ripken hit a two-run shot. He had three hits that game, and the Orioles won, 13-5.

5. July 15, 1993, against the Minnesota Twins' Scott Erickson. It was his 278th as a shortstop, breaking the record set by the Chicago Cubs' Ernie Banks. The seat in left field at Camden Yards where the ball landed has been painted orange. Ripken finished with 345 as a shortstop, currently one ahead of the New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez, who is now a third baseman.


Double-play combination partners

1. Roberto Alomar. They weren't the best of pals, but they sure were allies for Orioles pitchers. Alomar might one day get into the Hall of Fame, too.

2. Bill Ripken. So smooth, it looked like they had been turning DPs forever.

3. Rich Dauer. Ripken's first partner, they were together for four years.

4. Mark McLemore. This super-utility man played all over the diamond, including 191 games next to Ripken in a three-year period.

5. Manny Alexander. Known as Ripken's hyped but never-to-be successor, he started at second in Ripken's 2,131st consecutive game.


Memorable scenes

1. The victory lap around Camden Yards on Sept. 6, 1995, after setting the consecutive-games record. Really, what else could be No. 1?

2. Catching Garry Maddox's liner on Oct. 16, 1983, for the final out of the World Series, the only title in Ripken's career.

3. Alex Rodriguez's decision on July 10, 2001, to push Ripken from third base to shortstop to start the All-Star Game, Ripken's last one.

4. Rounding first base and shaking the hand of good buddy and coach Eddie Murray after singling off the Minnesota Twins' Hector Carrasco in the seventh inning April 15, 2000. With it, he became the 24th player to record 3,000 hits.

5. In a darkened and packed Camden Yards, after playing in his final game, Ripken walking out of the bullpen and being greeted by Orioles greats Murray, Jim Palmer, Frank Robinson and Earl Weaver before making his goodbye speech.


Nondescript players taken ahead of Ripken in the 1978 draft (Second round, 48th overall)

1. Buddy Biancalana, Kansas City Royals, 25th overall

2. Rex Hudler, New York Yankees, 18th overall

3. Dave Valle, Seattle Mariners, 32nd overall

4. Larry Sheets, Orioles, 29th overall

5. Lenny Faedo, Minnesota Twins, 16th overall


Teammates forever linked to Ripken

1. Bill Ripken. They grew up in the same house and played next to each other in the big leagues. Tough to beat that connection.

2. Eddie Murray. Ripken gives Murray credit for teaching him how to prepare and succeed as a major leaguer.

3. Brady Anderson. He joined Ripken in 1988, and they became running mates and best buddies for 13 additional seasons.

4. Mike Bordick. Manny Alexander couldn't permanently move Ripken from short to third, but the signing of the respected Bordick did, after he made sure Ripken was on board with the plan.

5. Ryan Minor. He replaced Ripken in the starting lineup Sept. 20, 1998, to end the consecutive-games streak. When manager Ray Miller told Minor of the plan, he quipped: "Does he know?"


Closest calls to end The Streak

1. June 6, 1993. Twisted his right knee when his spikes caught in the dirt during the Orioles-Seattle Mariners brawl. The knee was still swollen the next day, and he said it was the closest he came to sitting out.

2. April 10, 1985. Sprained his left ankle while at shortstop during a pickoff play. Went to the hospital for X-rays and didn't play in the next day's exhibition game.

3. Sept. 11, 1992. Twisted his right ankle on a double, and the club recalled Manny Alexander from the minors, but Ripken didn't miss an inning for the next week.

4. Aug. 2, 1997. Almost left the game in the first inning with lower back pain after charging a slow roller. He stayed in the game, and the next day he homered.

5. July 26, 1993. Birth of son, Ryan, on an open date. His daughter, Rachel, had the good sense to be born in November.


Records or firsts not involving games played

1. He joined brother Bill in July 1987 as the first siblings to play simultaneously in the majors for their father.

2. Fewest errors in a season for a qualifying shortstop, three in 1990.

3. Most votes ever received by a Hall of Famer, 537 (the 545 cast were also the most in Baseball Writers' Association of America history). He was named on 98.53 percent of the ballots, third-highest in history.

4. First to win a Rookie of the Year Award and Most Valuable Player in consecutive seasons (1982-1983).

5. Oldest player to be named an All-Star MVP, age 41 in 2001.


Bizarre factoids

1. His first major league steal was of home.

2. His nose was broken during the 1996 All-Star photo shoot when Chicago White Sox closer Roberto Hernandez slipped and backhanded Ripken while attempting to regain his balance.

3. He had three hits in five at-bats on his rookie Opening Day in 1982 and then went into a 4-for-55 slide but still was named American League Rookie of the Year.

4. He is one of three Orioles to hit for the cycle. The other two were also speed demons: Brooks Robinson and Aubrey Huff.

5. He played all 10 innings in the 1994 All-Star Game.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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