O's, Yankees fans set rivalry aside to cheer Ripken

sun reporter

Though it doesn't happen often, Orioles and New York Yankees fans were on the same side yesterday. Rather than leave Camden Yards and immerse themselves in the gnarled post-game traffic, some stayed to watch a taped broadcast of Cal Ripken Jr.'s Hall of Fame induction speech on the ballpark's video board.

For a few moments, a heated rivalry had been cooled by their mutual respect for baseball's "Iron Man."

A portion of the opening ceremonies was shown during a 42-minute rain delay that pushed back the game's starting time, but Ripken's speech was saved for later, after the Yankees' 10-6 victory.

Images of former Orioles Jim Palmer, Eddie Murray, Earl Weaver and Brooks Robinson in Cooperstown, N.Y., brought loud applause from a sellout crowd of 47,936. Reggie Jackson also received a long-distance ovation, though Yankees fans supplied most of the noise.

A Baltimore police officer estimated that 1,200 people remained at Camden Yards to watch Ripken's speech, though a team official said the total ranged from 5,000 to 8,000, which seemed a bit generous.

"I was hoping there would have been more people who stayed," said Joe Daly, 52, of Frederick, "but the true Cal fans stayed."

Most fans remained quiet during Ripken's speech, though there was scattered applause when he thanked Murray and a few squeals from women when Brady Anderson - described by Ripken as his "best friend" - appeared on the screen.

Paul Bardack, 53, of Rockville, stood for most of the speech while wearing his Yankees cap. He's an Orioles fan on days when New York isn't the opponent and a Ripken fan no matter who's on the schedule.

"I thought it was beautiful," he said. "I thought it was full of values and exactly what the sport needed at this moment in its history."

Bardack, whose 19-year-old son, Avi, wore an Orioles cap, found Ripken's reference to the importance of helping kids and new beginnings to be the most memorable part of the speech.

"I thought it was good that he realized the impact he's having on kids," Avi Bardack said.

Daly described the Cooperstown scene as "all Cal, the way he lived his life."

"I like how he spoke to the kids. It was great in the way he delivered it, but humble in the way he brought the message out. Typical Cal. Inspiring for everybody who stayed."

Fans also applauded when Ripken, whose legendary work ethic enabled him to play in 2,632 consecutive games, praised the people in the Cooperstown crowd who go to their jobs every day "and make the world a better place."

"I thought it was very inspiring," said Leland Nislow, 15, of Owings Mills. "He's the reason that we still have some fans in Baltimore for baseball."

Richard Crisco, 47, has special memories of Ripken, dating to when he played baseball at Bel Air High and they were rivals. Crisco remembered Ripken's being a "good player," but he never imagined that he'd be watching a Hall of Fame induction speech.

"It's good to see a peer," he said, laughing.


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