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Dad, Bill at side, but O's decline gets worse

Cal RipkenErnie BanksEddie MurrayRon WashingtonBaltimore OriolesAmerican LeagueToronto Blue Jays

Sixth of a series recounting Cal Ripken's 20 major-league seasons.

His consecutive-innings streak ended in 1987. So did the warm feelings that accompanied his father's hiring as Orioles manager.

The cold reality for Cal Ripken and his teammates was a sixth-place finish in the American League East, with a 67-95 record that at the time was the third worst in franchise history. Ripken batted only .252, his lowest average in six full seasons.

Once as dependable as a sunrise, Ripken hit .229 after May 16. He still drove in 98 runs, the first player other than Eddie Murray to lead the club in that category during the 1980s, and hit 27 homers. But in many ways, what should have been his most gratifying season became his most trying.

As Ripken's batting average gradually fell from .326, talk intensified of ending The Streak. But it stood at 927 consecutive games after the season, the sixth longest in major-league history. Cal Sr., in his first season as manager, halted his son's consecutive-innings streak at 8,243 by removing him from a Sept. 14 game with the Orioles losing 18-3 to the Toronto Blue Jays.

Ripken remained on base when the last out was recorded in the top of the eighth inning. Bill Ripken, who served as his brother's double-play partner after a midseason promotion from Triple-A Rochester, grabbed Cal's cap and glove and prepared to deliver them.

"That's the wrong glove," Cal Sr. said, repeating those words when Bill didn't immediately understand what was happening.

Ron Washington replaced Ripken at shortstop. The position would be vacated again on Sept. 25 when plate umpire Tim Welke ejected Ripken in the first inning for arguing a called strike.

After leading major-league shortstops in home runs, RBIs, runs and slugging percentage for the past four seasons, Ripken finished second to Detroit's Alan Trammell in every category. He did, however, become only the second shortstop to hit at least 20 homers in six consecutive seasons. Hall of Famer Ernie Banks had done it in seven straight.

Ripken also collected his second hit in 12 All-Star Game at-bats, a single off future teammate Rick Sutcliffe in Oakland. He was the first AL shortstop to make four consecutive starts in the midsummer classic.

Statistics

Year G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI Avg.

1987 162 624 97 157 28 3 27 98 .252

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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