Cal Ripken Sr. can’t control himself. On Sept. 25, as the Orioles celebrate a 5-1 win in Milwaukee to clinch the American League East, the no-nonsense coach does a very un-Ripkenlike thing. He douses his son Cal Jr. with champagne.
“Maybe the father finally did come out in me,” Cal Sr. says.
It’s a classic team victory, No. 27 in the past 34 games. Storm Davis and Tippy Martinez combine to stop the Brewers on six hits, while two fringe Orioles — catcher Joe Nolan and right fielder Jim Dwyer — each hit a home run. It’s Baltimore’s first division title since 1979 and its seventh overall, a major league record.
A crowd of about 7,500 greets the team on its arrival at Baltimore-Washington International, where designated hitter Ken Singleton tells them: “We’ve got the best fans in baseball. Pretty soon we’ll try to give you the best team in baseball.”
The week overall is, well, forgettable (2-4). The other win is a 4-2 defeat of Milwaukee in which shortstop Ripken gets four hits for the fifth time this year and pitcher Sammy Stewart stars in relief, entering in the eighth inning with a 4-1 lead, the bases loaded and nobody out. Stewart is sweating: He can’t unzip his warmup jacket. A batboy wrestles with it for more than a minute.
“I thought I was in a straitjacket,” Stewart says.