The first hit, a single into the shortstop hole, came against the Chicago White Sox and pitcher Dennis Lamp on Aug. 16, 1981, at Memorial Stadium.
Almost 12 years and a new ballpark later, Cal Ripken got his 2,000th big-league hit yesterday -- against the Chicago White Sox, this time a single off Wilson Alvarez.
The milestone arrived when Ripken led off the second inning of the Orioles' 6-0 victory.
The ball was retrieved for safe keeping, and Ripken received a standing ovation from the sellout crowd at Camden Yards.
He became the third Oriole to reach 2,000 hits, joining Brooks Robinson (2,848) and Eddie Murray (2,021).
After becoming the 191st player to achieve the feat, he reacted in typical low-key fashion.
"I was aware of it coming," said Ripken, who later drove in a run with a double in the Orioles' three-run eighth that sewed up the decision for Fernando Valenzuela.
"Someone brought it up Friday. I don't know what it means necessarily except that you have to be around a long time to do it. I'm more concerned about being more consistent this season."
Ripken is suddenly swinging a more potent bat as the All-Star Game approaches, notching his third straight multi-hit game. He has seven hits in his past 14 at-bats after a 1-for-23 stretch.
"You feel better about yourself when you start to contribute with the bat," he said. "I've been doing some things that seem to be working.
"Last month for every stride I took I seemed to take one backward. I don't feel like I've been hot at any time in the first half.
"But the last day in Kansas City, things started looking better. I feel much stronger at the plate."
Ripken said he was grateful for the fans' reaction yesterday. "I've said a zillion times there are great baseball fans here. They make you feel good."
2,001 AND COUNTING
With his single in the second inning yesterday, Cal Ripken became the third Oriole to reach 2,000 hits:
Player.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. Hits
Brooks Robinson .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 2,848
Eddie Murray .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 2,021
Cal Ripken .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..2,001