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Ripken's long run is streak of the decade


OAKLAND, Calif. -- For the man involved it's just another work day, but for those who were there when it started, The Streak is one of the most remarkable accomplishments in baseball history.

It was 10 years ago yesterday that Cal Ripken's name last failed to make a box score. Today the Orioles' perennial All-Star shortstop is scheduled to play in his 1,620th consecutive game, second only to Lou Gehrig's all-time record of 2,130.

"He's got 510 [games] to go and it's probably very reachable for him because he's so strong," said Rick Dempsey, one of three players from 1982 still wearing an Orioles uniform. "You don't find anybody stronger than him -- either physically or mentally."

Pitchers Mike Flanagan and Storm Davis were also with the Orioles when Ripken's streak started. "It seems that everybody else has changed, gotten older, and he's stayed the same," said Flanagan.

"You just expect him to be there. The only time you can really appreciate it I guess is if you have a spring training game and you look at shortstop and somebody else is there. It's a shock," said Flanagan. "That's when you realize what he's been doing every day for the last 10 years."

Ripken's streak almost encompasses Davis' entire major-league career -- the right-hander joined the Orioles a month before it started. "It's hard to find words to describe it," said Davis.

"As one of his teammates I watch what he does every day -- and realize he's done it for 10 years. It's phenomenal. He's mastered the mental part of the game," said Davis. "He knows exactly what to do to prepare himself every day -- not just to play, but to succeed.

"It's no secret that he works hard. He's the best I've ever played with," said Davis. "When I was with Oakland, some guys said to me that Rip would never break Gehrig's record, and I told them if anybody could do it, he was the one. I still feel that way."

Coaches Cal Ripken, Sr. and Elrod Hendricks have been with the Orioles throughout The Streak, and both say it's something they don't even think about. "What streak?" Ripken asked, only half in jest when told of the 10th anniversary of its start. "It just means that he's played 161 or 162 games -- however many the club plays -- for 10 years."

Hendricks admitted that The Streak is something he has come to take for granted. "You know if there's a game, he's going to be in there," said the veteran bullpen coach. "It's a good feeling, but when you see him every day, you take him for granted. Baseball is like that -- and so is life."

Mussina improved

Right-hander Mike Mussina, who has been scratched from two starts on this trip, participated in pre-game drills last night and appeared closer to recovery from the stomach virus that had him sidelined.

Mussina threw briefly on the sidelines, but not off a pitching mound. He is scheduled to do that today, and if all goes right he will pitch against the Angels in Anaheim Tuesday night.

Most games over 10 years

Player .. .. ..Yrs. .. G .. .. Missed

Cal Ripken .. .1982-91 1,619 .. 0

Lou Gehrig .. .1929-38 1,543 .. 0

Pete Rose .. ..1973-82 1,562 .. 4

Billy Williams 1962-71 1,614 ..10

Cap Anson .. ..1883-92 1,258 ..11

Nellie Fox .. .1952-62 1,544 ..15

Stan Musial .. 1946-55 1,533 ..17

Dale Murphy .. 1980-89 1,537 ..18

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