Twelfth of a series recounting Cal Ripken's 20 major-league seasons.
Just as Cal Ripken always had avoided serious injuries, he also was immune to criticism. But that changed in 1993.
The season ended with his consecutive-games streak alive, but not so well. Bobby Bonds, a coach with the San Francisco Giants and father of another future Hall of Famer, accused Ripken in May of "hurting the team" by refusing to rest, and "showing that personal goals are more important."
He called The Streak "idiotic," and added, "If I were his manager, he'd be out of there. He wants to break Lou Gehrig's record, even if it'll cost Baltimore the pennant."
A month later, on June 6, Bonds almost got his wish, though he wasn't campaigning for an injury. Ripken twisted his right knee when his spikes caught in the infield grass during a brawl with the Seattle Mariners. Ripken got trapped under a pile of bodies, and his 1,790th consecutive game easily could have been his last for a while.
In typical Iron Man fashion, Ripken didn't retreat to the bench that day. The knee, however, was badly swollen and painful the next morning. Ripken later said, "It was the closest I've come to not playing."
Three days later, Ripken plowed into Oakland catcher Terry Steinbach at home plate, knocking him out with a forearm to the jaw. The run-in occurred shortly after Ripken was hit on the wrist by a Bob Welch pitch, possibly in retaliation for an inside fastball to Steinbach earlier in the game.
"A person like him, especially chasing that record, might be more reserved. Not him," Steinbach said years later. "He's very aggressive. He does what it takes to win."
Take that, Mr. Bonds.
"It was like, he never really wanted to just keep the streak alive," teammate and close friend Brady Anderson said. "I've seen a lot of guys - I watched B.J. [Surhoff] do it. He probably started 150 games, but he played in 162. It was important to do it one time. He'd come in during a meaningless game, which is fine. If a guy's physically able to play in 162, that means a lot. Cal, Lou Gehrig, guys who have had those streaks, made it important to even play one season and not miss a game. [Ripken] never came into any games, not even one, to keep it alive."
Ripken led major-league shortstops in homers (24) for the ninth time in 11 years, and in RBIs (90) for the eighth.
Year G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI Avg.
1993 162 641 87 165 26 3 24 90 .257Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun