O's fight for Ripken mark at home


September 22, 1994|By Tom Keegan | Tom Keegan,Sun Staff Writer

While the threat of the 1995 season opening with replacement players imperils Cal Ripken's consecutive-games streak, the Orioles are trying to make sure that if Ripken does break Lou Gehrig's record he will do so at Camden Yards.

At the moment, the unofficial 1995 American League schedule has Ripken breaking the record in Oakland, Calif.

Ripken has played 2,009 consecutive games, which means he would tie Gehrig's record of 2,130 by playing in 121 more games in a row and break it in his 122nd consecutive game.

The Orioles' 121st game of 1995 is scheduled for Aug. 16 at Oriole Park against Cleveland. The 122nd game is scheduled for Aug. 18 at Oakland.

Orioles majority owner Peter Angelos said the Orioles telephoned the AL office and followed up the call with a "strongly worded" letter asking the league to "structure the schedule so that he can do it here."

"Obviously, we would do everything possible to see to it that the game in which Cal would break Lou Gehrig's record would be played in Baltimore," Angelos said.

The Orioles are hopeful the American League can schedule the potential record-breaking game in the middle of a homestand in order to provide insurance against rainouts.

Meanwhile, there exists the possibility, however remote, that the owners could open next season with non-union players, leaving Ripken facing the decision of watching his streak end or crossing the picket line.

Angelos said he has "strong personal feelings" against using non-union players for replacement games, but allowed that he also would have to weigh the fiduciary responsibility he has to his partners.

The possibility that using replacement players could result in the end of Ripken's streak also figures in the equation, Angelos said.

"Here's a guy who hasn't missed a game in 14 years and has a chance to break this impressive record," Angelos said. "I would view that as a very powerful disincentive."

Ripken, no fan of hypothetical questions, has not made any public comments during the players' strike that started Aug. 12.

Ripken finished the strike-shortened 1994 season with a .315 batting average, 13 home runs and a team-best 75 RBIs in 112 games. He had a .985 fielding percentage, best among American League shortstops.

Winter forecast

Several players in the Orioles organization are scheduled to participate in winter baseball.

Left-hander Jim Poole plans to play in Venezuela, according to assistant general manager Doug Melvin.

Left-hander John O'Donoghue and right-hander Kevin McGehee, who pitched for Rochester in 1994, are set to play in Venezuela.

Shortstop Manny Alexander and reliever Armando Benitez plan to play in their native Dominican Republic. Three members of the Frederick Keys -- outfielder Kimera Bartee and pitchers Scott Conner and Aaron Lane -- will play in Australia.

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