Another Orioles streak ending this weekend

The Baltimore Sun

Cal Ripken Jr. is not the only "Iron Man" around Camden Yards.

But the Hall of Fame-bound shortstop is playing a central role in the ending of another consecutive-games streak.

Ernie Tyler, the Orioles' umpires attendant, has not missed a home game since 1960, the year he got the job. That streak, which stands at 3,770 regular-season games heading into tonight, is about to end, as Tyler will miss the last two games of the series with the New York Yankees to attend Ripken's induction into the Hall of Fame.

Tyler, 83, is going to Cooperstown, N.Y., as Ripken's guest, an honor he said was more important than his simply coming to work every day. He said the streak is not something that enters his mind, except when other people talk to him about it.

"It's only because you guys keep bringing it up," Tyler said when asked whether he had thought about ending the streak. "I really am [more] interested and overwhelmed with going up with Cal Ripken. This is just another bump in the road for me, to leave here these two days."

The Forest Hill resident has known Ripken since he was a teenager taking ground balls at Memorial Stadium with his dad, Cal Sr. Tyler became close with the Ripken family over the years and said if there was ever a reason to miss a day of work, this would be it.

"When I got the call, there was a 30-second delay where I was so overwhelmed, I couldn't get my mouth open," Tyler said. "They started telling me what was going to happen, and finally I said, 'Just tell me when to be there.'"

Tyler, who has been married 60 years and has 11 children with his wife, Juliane, began working for the team as a part-time usher at Memorial Stadium. He became a full-time usher in 1958 before taking on his current position in 1960 in what he thought was a temporary move.

"They said, 'Just do it for a couple of weeks,'" said Tyler, who added that he has considered himself "day-to-day" ever since.

Up until 1988, Tyler also worked full time for the state's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and said he never missed a day at that job, either. Two of his sons, Jim and Fred, are also longtime Orioles employees.

They both credit their dad for setting a positive example about how to approach their jobs.

"He just wouldn't ever leave until the work was done," said Fred, 45, who has been in charge of the visitors' clubhouse since 1984. "Being at the ballpark was just what we did."

Older brother Jim, 59, agreed. The Orioles' clubhouse manager called his dad "a wonderful man and certainly a wonderful father. He's Ernie at the ballpark and Dad at home."

Although the streak might be coming to an end, the elder Tyler said he's in good health and is looking forward to the trip as well as beginning a new streak when he and the Orioles return to Camden Yards.

"It'll be fun," Tyler said. "But on Aug. 7, Seattle will be here, and so will I."

patrick.gutierrez@baltsun.com

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