Happy birthday to you

He was sitting in the last row of the last section in left field, but Jeffrey Cederbaum of Columbia wasn't complaining about the view. He turned 13 yesterday, and he got a birthday present he won't forget.


He got the tickets by a stroke of luck. He attended a spring baseball camp, and the campers were offered a chance to purchase Orioles tickets and attend a bullpen party.

"I just sent away for the tickets," said Ken Cederbaum, Jeffrey's father. "I almost swooned when six tickets came back with Sept. 6 as the date. No one's complaining. It's a great view."


Palmeiro soaks it in

Orioles first baseman Rafael Palmeiro has never been in the playoffs or World Series but on Ripken's record-tying day, he could dream.

"This is probably the closest I've felt to being in the postseason," Palmeiro said.

Palmeiro and Ripken were talking shortly after the fifth-inning celebration, looking up at the scoreboard at the images of Lou Gehrig and Ripken.

"He asked me which one was was he," Palmeiro said. "I said, 'You're on the right, dummy.' "

Palmeiro has only played with Ripken for two seasons, but he already envisions how the streak will end.

"In my opinion, he's either going to play until he gets hurt and can't play, or he retires," Palmeiro said. "If he were to sit down in a few days, it would contradict everything he's stood for."

When he played for the Texas Rangers, Palmeiro saw Nolan Ryan get his 300th win, 5,000th strikeout and sixth and seventh no-hitters. "Those were big events in baseball history," Palmeiro said, "but this may mean even more.


"When I first signed with the Orioles, that was one of the first things that came into my mind," Palmeiro said. "I'm going to be part of this."

And he thinks the record will be unbreakable. "No one in this lifetime is going to break Cal's record because the way the players approach the game is not the same as when I started or even before Cal," Palmeiro said. "They're going to take days off."

A peek at the streak

Along Conway Street, in the thick crowd where people were climbing as high as they could on the metal fence to get a peek at the game, stood Steve and Peggy James, tourists from Chicago. Making the best of the situation, Steve James handed his 35mm camera to Baltimore police officer Ted Black, who stood on the inside of the stadium compound, and Black obligingly took their picture "behind bars in Baltimore."

All in the family

Orioles manager Phil Regan knows exactly where his copy of the lineup is going -- to his daughter.


"My daughter has already asked me for it, she keeps a lot of stuff," Regan said. "Someone offered me a large sum of money for it when I first got the job, before I even thought about it. There's not a price on it. It's priceless."

Regan, after his initial experience with the consecutive games as a player, never thought Ripken would do it.

"All I remember when I was with the Cubs, and watching Billy Williams break the National League record [Williams is fifth on the all-time list, at 1,117], I remember him telling me how tired he was and that he should've stopped a long time ago," Regan said. "When I saw Cal had reached 1,400 or 1,500 games, I still felt that it might not be broken because you know somewhere along the way, he'll pull a hamstring or something.

"And for that reason, I never thought it would be broken," Regan said. "But after getting here and managing him, I understand that if anyone can do it, he could. It's an outlet for him to play the game."

More family ties

Outside the stadium on Russell Street two hours before game time, dozens of people prowled the sidewalk in search of the hottest ticket in town. One woman tried to elicit sympathy with this message: "My three sons want to be part of a dream. Need tickets."