Cal Ripken Sr., a member of the Orioles organization for 36 years, has been removed as third-base coach and asked to take a minor-league position, club officials said yesterday.
The decision to replace Mr. Ripken, who joined the major-league club in 1976, apparently was made shortly after the regular season. Club officials said they are awaiting word from Mr. Ripken on whether he will accept a demotion to minor-league instructor or retire.
General manager Roland Hemond refused to confirm Mr. Ripken's dismissal as third-base coach yesterday, but he and manager Johnny Oates said the club has spoken with Mr. Ripken about moving to a different job.
"We've talked to him some about another position in the organization, but that hasn't been resolved yet," Mr. Hemond said. "He's contemplating it."
Mr. Ripken, 56, could not be reached for comment. He has worked since 1957 in the Orioles organization as a player, scout, coach and manager. This will be the second time in the past five years that he has been relieved of a position with the major-league club. He was fired as manager in 1988.
The decision to change third-base coaches comes less than two months after the Orioles signed Mr. Ripken's son, All-Star shortstop Cal Ripken Jr., to a five-year, $30.5 million contract.
A month from now, Cal Ripken Jr. might be the only remaining family member with the club. The Orioles are not expected to include his brother, second baseman Bill Ripken, on their 15-man protected list for the Nov. 17 expansion draft. Unprotected players are eligible to be selected by the two new National League teams, the Florida Marlins and the Colorado Rockies.
Mr. Oates declined to elaborate on the decision concerning Cal Ripken Sr., but other club officials said there was frustration with Mr. Ripken's performance as third-base coach and his lingering bitterness over getting fired as manager in April 1988.
Mr. Ripken became manager in 1987, and the Orioles finished 67-95. He was replaced by Frank Robinson after they lost their first six games in 1988. The club went 0-21 before ending the longest losing streak in American League history.
Mr. Ripken returned as third-base coach under Mr. Robinson the next season, reclaiming a position he held from 1977 to 1986. Club officials said he often seemed distant and lonely, even though for a time he appeared rejuvenated under Mr. Oates.
The final straw probably came on Sept. 22, when Mr. Ripken held Tim Hulett at third on a potential sacrifice fly in the ninth inning of a 4-3 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays that all but eliminated the Orioles from contention for the American League East title.
Club officials indicated a new third-base coach would be hired. The other four coaches -- Dick Bosman (pitching), Greg Biagini (hitting), Elrod Hendricks (bullpen) and Davey Lopes (first base) -- are likely to remain in their current positions.