Ripken out of Gehrig's leagueIt is interesting, and...


August 08, 1993

Ripken out of Gehrig's league

It is interesting, and somewhat sad, to watch Cal Ripken's pursuit of Lou Gehrig's 2,130 consecutive games record. Many people believe Ripken's obsession with this record is having an adverse influence on his performance. After all, Ripken is batting around .230. Maybe if he was rested occasionally, like other .230 hitters, it would help regenerate his game -- and the Orioles' prospects this year.

Even if Cal broke Gehrig's record, it would mean little because he will never match other Gehrig accomplishments. Although the two players are alike in some ways, the record book

demonstrates conclusively that there is no performance resemblance between Ripken and Gehrig.

The crushing truth is that they are not in the same league.

Gehrig played 14 full seasons, and at the end of 1992 Ripken had had 11 full seasons. That makes comparison between the two reasonably close. Gehrig led the American League in RBI five times with numbers of 184, 175, 174, 165 and 142. Except for his first full year in baseball, Gehrig never drove in less than 107 runs as a full-time player. He stands third on baseball's all-time RBI list. His career RBI total was 1,990. That's clutch hitting.

Gehrig's batting average was never less than .300 in any full season, except his first and last years. And in those two seasons, he batted .295. His lifetime batting average was .340 and his slugging percentage .632 -- third highest since baseball started keeping records.

Gehrig had 2,721 hits, including 535 doubles, 162 triples and 493 homers. He played in 34 World Series games over seven seasons and hit eight doubles, three triples and 10 home runs. He hit a phenomenal four homers in just 11 times at bat in the

1928 series. In all, he scored 30 runs and drove in another 35 in World Series play while hitting .361.

Ripken's stats, as good as they seem to be by today's lower standards, pale by comparison. So far, Ripken has hit over .300 and drove in more than 100 runs in only three seasons and has a lifetime batting average of .277. He played in one World Series, in which he batted .167. In three fewer seasons than Gehrig, Ripken has a little more than half of Gehrig's RBI and slightly better than half his homers. Don't even try to compare his double (369) and triples (34) to Gehrig's.

None of this should take anything away from Ripken's accomplishments. But my point is this: Gehrig not only played more consecutive games than any other player in baseball, he also played at a level of greatness that probably never will be

matched -- certainly not by Ripken.

Donald Klein


Impressive support

I would like to commend the city of Baltimore in its efforts to get one of the NFL's expansion teams to be awarded this fall. As a Rockville resident with strong Baltimore ties, I plan to trek up to Camden Yards eight-plus Sundays every fall.

I feel that the two ownership groups and the Stadium Authority have covered most of the avenues used for strong selling points. Unfortunately, the group has overlooked a very unique selling point: Washington.

Almost 30 percent of the Orioles' games are attended by people living in the D.C. area. I am sure a good percentage of these people would make the drive for football as well.

After all, the Baltimore-Washington region separately supported two team for more than 30 years (1950 to 1983). During that time, the Redskins began their famous sellout string in 1966.

So, Baltimore, I am not saying you have to like Washington, but see the potential there and use it if necessary.

Tom Zinzi


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