You gotta play . . .

Cal Ripken earned the numbers the hard way, but local gamblers are hoping to ride The Streak for some easy cash.


Maryland State Lottery officials said the record-tying number, 2,130, and last night's record-breaking 2,131 both sold out this week on the four-digit number game. The lottery stops selling a number when a potential payoff reaches $7 million.

There are two four-digit drawings a day. On Tuesday, 2,130 sold out for the evening drawing at 3:30 p.m. Eight minutes later, 2,131 sold out.


Yesterday, 2,131 was sold out for the midday drawing at 8:05 a.m. and 2,130 sold out at 10:28 a.m. For yesterday evening's drawing, 2,131 was sold out from the moment lottery outlets turned their computers on at 6 a.m., having been bought up the night before. By 10:29 a.m., 2,130 was unavailable.

"It happens occasionally on strange days," said Carroll Hynson Jr., a lottery spokesman. "On July 7 we often sell out 711. And people will play the numbers of planes that crash or numbers they see in movies. When the media touts a number as much as [Ripken's record], we always anticipate a sellout."

For a $1 bet, picking all four numbers in correct order -- 1-in-10,000 odds -- brings in $5,000. If the number is boxed the prize is $1,200. The Pick 4 game grossed about $157 million in sales last year.

Seal of approval

President Clinton said during last night's national television broadcast what everyone else has been thinking for months -- that Ripken's streak is the one truly positive thing that disgruntled baseball fans can grab onto in the midst of the sport's chronic labor trouble.

"I think the games last night and tonight are going to do a lot to help America fall back in love with baseball," Clinton said.

Signs of the times

Signs seen in the stands at Camden Yards last night:


* "Tonight, we feel like the luckiest fans on the face of the earth. Thanks Cal."

* "It's not just how many . . . it's how."

* "Cal, thanks for saving baseball."

* "And on the eighth day, God created Cal."

Bonilla's contribution

Before game time, Orioles outfielder Bobby Bonilla had not decided who would sit in the two $5,000 field-level seats he had purchased. All 260 of the seats -- the proceeds from which benefit Johns Hopkins University research into neuromuscular disease -- had been purchased, according to Orioles officials. For Bonilla, it was the thought that counted.


"I thought it was important to contribute to the Cal Ripken/Lou Gehrig fund. Everyone has been so good to me in Baltimore," Bonilla said. "I don't know who gets the seats, yet. They might be empty."

Merry Christmas

Steve Malone received a phone call at noon yesterday that he won't soon forget. It was his wife, Joyce, saying she had gotten him a ticket to last night's historic game through a co-worker at Severn River Junior High.

"She told me, 'Merry Christmas, Happy Birthday and Happy Anniversary.' I'm covered for the next year," he said.

Actually, Joyce was evening the score. Malone, the former boys soccer coach at North County High, had surprised her with a ticket to the Barbra Streisand concert last year at USAir Arena.

"I stayed home," he said.