When baseball's newest iron man officially went in the record books in the fifth inning last night, Orioles fans erupted with a heartfelt, 22-minute, 15-second ovation.
For Cal Ripken, the spoils of his overtaking the legendary Lou Gehrig would come later -- after the Orioles' 4-2 victory over the California Angels was complete.
In a post-game ceremony filled with lavish gifts and lengthy speeches, Ripken was given a solid mahogany pool table, a 2,131-pound marble stone, a Chevy Tahoe wagon, a Paul Picot watch and Waterford crystal.
But he wasn't the only recipient on this festive evening. Through the sale of commemorative seats at Camden Yards for last night's record-setting game, the Orioles raised $1.3 million. Team owner Peter Angelos pledged that to the Johns Hopkins Hospital, and said the Orioles would chip in another $700,000 to raise the total to $2 million.
When Angelos' speech continued, fans twice booed, eager to hear from Ripken.
Ripken didn't disappoint them. He thanked four people in particular -- his father Cal Sr., his mother Vi, former teammate Eddie Murray, and his wife Kelly.
Ripken spoke from the heart in a speech he had crafted earlier in the afternoon.
"I know that if Lou Gehrig is looking down on tonight's activities, BTC he isn't concerned about someone playing one more consecutive game than he did," Ripken said. "Instead, he's viewing tonight as just another example of what is good and right about the great American game.
"Whether your name is Gehrig or Ripken; DiMaggio or Robinson; or that of some youngster who picks up his bat or puts on his glove: You are challenged by the game of baseball to do your very best day in and day out. And that's all I've ever tried to do."
Joe DiMaggio, a former teammate of Gehrig's, was on hand for the record-breaker. "Wherever [Gehrig] is, I'm sure he tipped his cap to Cal Ripken," DiMaggio, 80, said.
The post-game celebration started when broadcasters Chuck Thompson and Jon Miller introduced the Orioles' starting lineup from the May 30, 1982, game that started The Streak, Ripken, the Orioles' third baseman in that game, came onto the field with his arms draped around his father and mother.
Last night's winning pitcher, Mike Mussina, then made team presentations of the pool table and marble stone, which has the No. 2131 etched on the front.
Mark Belanger, an Orioles shortstop from 1965 through 1981 and special assistant to Players Association president Donald Fehr, said the major-league players association would build a stadium and park for kids -- Inspiration Field -- in Ripken's hometown of Aberdeen.
Outfielder Brady Anderson also paid tribute to Ripken.
"We are thrilled to play beside him today, and we wish to thank Cal -- our teammate, friend and mentor -- for enabling us to share this wonderful moment in time," Anderson said. "We acknowledge his extraordinary performance in breaking this record but we acknowledge as well his excellence throughout the 14 seasons."
There were fireworks after Ripken spoke, and the ceremony concluded with him riding in a red Corvette around Camden Yards, waving to fans.
At the start of the game, Branford Marsalis, playing the saxophone, and Bruce Hornsby, on the piano, performed an instrumental version of the national anthem.
And in one other personal touch, Ripken's two children, Rachel, 5, and Ryan, 2, participated in the ceremonial first pitch.