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Text of Ripken's speech

After last night's record-breaking game, Cal Ripken delivered the following speech:

When the game numbers on the warehouse changed during fifth innings over the past several weeks, the fans in this ballpark responded incredibly. I'm not sure that my reactions showed how I really felt. I just didn't know what to do.

Tonight, I want to make sure you know how I feel. As I grew up here, I not only had dreams of being a big-league ballplayer, but also of being a Baltimore Oriole. As a boy and a fan, I know how passionate we feel about baseball and the Orioles here. And as a player, I have benefited from this passion.

For all of your support over the years, I want to thank you, the fans of Baltimore, from the bottom of my heart. This is the greatest place to play.

This year has been unbelievable. I've been cheered in ballparks all over the country. People not only showed me their kindness, but more importantly, they demonstrated their love of the game of baseball. I give my thanks to baseball fans everywhere.

I also could express my gratitude to a number of individuals who have played a role in my life and my career, but if I try to mention them all, I might unintentionally miss someone and take more time than I should.

There are, however, four people I want to thank especially. Let me start by thanking my dad. He inspired me with his commitment to the Oriole tradition and made me understand the importance of it. He not only taught me the fundamentals of baseball, he taught me to play it the right way, the Oriole way. From the very beginning, my dad let know how important it was to be there for your team and to be counted on by your teammates.

My mom, what can I say about my mom? She is an unbelievable person. She let my dad lead the way on the field, but she was there in every other way -- leading and shaping the lives of our family off the field. She's the glue who held our lives together while we grew up, and she's always been my inspiration.

Dad and Mom laid the foundation for my baseball career and my life, and when I got to the big leagues, there was a man -- Eddie Murray -- who showed me how to play this game, day in and day out. I thank him for his example and for his friendship. I was lucky to have him as my teammate for the years we were together, and I congratulate him on the great achievement of 3,000 hits this year.

As my major-league career moved along, the most important person came into my life -- my wife, Kelly. She has enriched it with her friendship and with her love. I thank you, Kelly, for the advice, support, and joy you have brought to me, and for always being there. You, Rachel and Ryan are my life.

These people, and many others, have allowed me, day in and day out, to play the American game of baseball.

Tonight I stand here, overwhelmed, as my name is linked with the great and courageous Lou Gehrig. I'm truly humbled to have our names spoken in the same breath.

Some may think our strongest connection is because we both played many consecutive games. Yet I believe in my heart that our true link is a common motivation -- a love of the game of baseball, a passion for our team, and a desire to compete on the very highest level.

I know that if Lou Gehrig is looking down on tonight's activities, he isn't concerned about someone playing one more consecutive game than he did. 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.

Thank you.

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