Past gets caught up in celebration

September 06, 1995|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Sun Staff Writer

On the night Cal Ripken matched Lou Gehrig's consecutive-games record, the Orioles celebrated the era that spawned his Iron Man stint.

Remembering her No. 1 hit, "I Love Rock and Roll" from 1982, they brought back Rockville native Joan Jett for the national anthem.

They put Earl Weaver, the team's winningest manager, on the mound for the ceremonial opening pitch.

And for the 2,130th straight game, they put Ripken in the starting lineup.

Bringing back Weaver was a particularly appropriate touch. He was the manager who turned Ripken, a third baseman when he came to the Orioles, into a shortstop.

"What is happening here is better than winning the state lottery," Weaver said. "It's just something fantastic, something that I don't think any generation will ever see again . . . a man playing 2,130 straight games."

Weaver looked dapper in a light tan jacket, dark brown slacks and white shirt and tie. He walked to the mound to a growing crescendo of cheers, his arm around 13-year-old Emmanuel Nelson, who was born on May 30, 1982 -- the day the streak started.

At the mound, Weaver took off his jacket, folded it neatly and laid it on the grass. Then he delivered a pitch to -- who else? -- Ripken. Before leaving the infield, Weaver asked Ripken to autograph the baseball as his personal memento.

The evening began with another Ripken signature -- on a check he presented to representatives of the ALS Association. The check was for 1 percent of the royalties made from the sale of streak-related merchandise. Shaking hands all around, Ripken dropped to one knee for photographs with several children from the association.

Then it was Jett's turn. Dressed fashionably in black, she sang the anthem while Ripken stood down the right-field foul line with strength and conditioning coach Tim Bishop and outfielder Mark Smith. After the anthem, Ripken sprinted in the outfield with Rafael Palmiero and Brady Anderson.

By the time the preliminaries were over and Ripken finally ran out to shortstop for the start of the game, thousands of flash bulbs popped from every section of Camden Yards.

And when Ripken came to bat in the bottom of the first, he received a deafening standing ovation.

Smoothing dirt in the batter's box for several seconds, he finally backed away, raised a hand, and then his helmet, to the crowd in appreciation.

He received still another thunderous ovation when he beat out a single in the hole at shortstop.

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