Joe Strauss, a former Sun sportswriter who covered the end of Cal Ripken's historic consecutive games streak and career, died this morning. He was 54.
In Baltimore, Mr. Strauss was on the Orioles beat from 1997 until leaving for the Post-Dispatch. He wrote the story when Ripken decided to end his streak on Sept. 20, 1998, with Ryan Minor starting in Ripken's place at third base.
A gifted writer, here's how Mr. Strauss began his story that ran on The Sun's sports cover the day after Ripken decided to end The Streak:
The Streak died last night of natural causes. It was 2,632.
Cal Ripken, who has played with grace and grit for a generation without daring to miss a game, stepped into manager Ray Miller's office shortly before last night's game against the New York Yankees and asked the unimaginable. He asked for the night off.
Sixteen years after Earl Weaver penned his name on the lineup card on May 30, 1982, Ripken did what only he could do. Recognizing the time had come for him to let go of one of the game's most impressive records, he sat on the bench as the Orioles took the field for their final home game of the season.
Baltimore Sun columnist Peter Schmuck was the national baseball reporter when Mr. Strauss covered the Orioles for The Sun. Schmuck said Mr. Strauss wrote how Ripken’s streak would end the day Ripken told manager Ray Miller.
“I thought I was good reporter until I met Joe. Then I realized I wasn’t even close,” Schmuck said. “It seemed like Joe knew when Cal Ripken was going to end his consecutive game streak before Cal did. He projected it the morning of the day it happened and had details that were so specific about that day that even Cal was amazed. Joe had an incredible talent for getting details no one else could get.”
Mr. Strauss, a native of Richmond, Va., graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1983, according to the Post-Dispatch. He got his start at papers in Georgia -- the Gwinnett Daily News and Columbus Ledger-Enquirer -- before joining the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 1988.
He moved to Baltimore nine years later. Mr. Strauss not only covered the end of Ripken's streak, he wrote about Ripken's retirement in 2001 before moving to St. Louis.
Mr. Strauss is survived by his wife, Diana Minardi Strauss, and their daughter, Alexis. Services are pending, according to the Post-Dispatch.