Thirty years ago today, Orioles legend Cal Ripken Jr. made his first major-league appearance and played a key role in an extra-innings win over the Kansas City Royals without stepping into the batter's box.
With the game tied, 2-2, in the bottom of the 12th inning, manager Earl Weaver called on the 20-year-old rookie to pinch run for slugger Ken Singleton, who had just smacked a double to left field. Two batters later, John Lowenstein singled to right field and Ripken charged home from second for the game-winning run.
"I certainly felt like I had helped us win," Ripken said of his Orioles debut years later when The Baltimore Sun asked him about it. "I scored the winning run, which probably anybody could have done at that point."
Ripken got his first start two days later -- he hit seventh and played third base -- but he was back on the bench at the start of the next Orioles game. Ripken hit .128 in 40 plate appearances that summer.
His legendary streak started the following season, and he was the center of the Orioles universe until he retired after the 2001 season. Ten years later -- and 30 after his big-league debut -- Ripken wants to get back into orbit. He told The Baltimore Sun on Tuesday that he has an "itch to come back to the big league scene."
It’s purely coincidence, but it’s interesting Ripken admitted that again three decades after the kid from Havre de Grace first scratched the surface at Memorial Stadium as a pinch runner.