Little fanfare greets Ripken's 2,215th Tying, then breaking Kinugasa's record likely this series

Orioles sidelight

June 13, 1996|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

DETROIT -- A full two months before Cal Ripken passed Lou Gehrig's major-league record of 2,130 consecutive games last year, Orioles ace Mike Mussina figured out he would start on Sept. 6, the night of the record-breaker.

Ripken is set to tie Sachio Kinugasa's Japan League and world record of 2,215 straight games tonight in Kansas City, and, presumably, break the mark tomorrow. Mussina realized he would start this record-breaker at exactly 12: 15 yesterday morning, the first time he really thought about it.

"You're the first one who's mentioned it," Mussina told a reporter.

Mussina's general interest in Kinugasa's record is reflective of many of his teammates, and the media in the United States. The Orioles issued about 700 credentials for consecutive games Nos. 2,130 and 2,131. There will be about 60 media members attending the games today and tomorrow, and approximately 40 of are from Japan. Kinugasa, a third baseman, played every game for the Hiroshima Karp from Oct. 19, 1970, to Oct. 22, 1987.

"It's a little bit different atmosphere," said Mussina, with a twinge of sarcasm. "They're not rolling big numbers off buildings this year.

"I knew it was going to happen on the road, and I thought it was going to happen on this trip. No one ever talks about it."

Which is fine with Ripken, besieged last year as he closed in on Gehrig's record. The American media, he said, have rarely asked him about Kinugasa's mark. "I'm trying to deal with it the same way I did last year," Ripken said. "I've talked quite a bit about it recently with the Japanese media."

Ripken had lunch with Kinugasa for a couple of hours Tuesday and through an interpreter, they chatted. Ripken played against Kinugasa when he toured with the Orioles in 1984 and with the major-league All-Stars in 1986. He wasn't aware of Kinugasa's record, however.

"I had known somebody had broken Gehrig's record," Ripken said, "but I wasn't sure who it was. I don't think [my] identity with the streak had been established.

"Now I remember him specifically, from playing. He had power, and I remember he hit home runs."

Over lunch, the iron men "compared notes," Ripken said. "The way he answered questions was pretty much the way I would answer questions."

Kinugasa is scheduled to be in attendance as Ripken ties and breaks his record, and the Royals have scheduled several special events. Today, Kinugasa and Ripken will hold a joint news conference in which a commemorative painting will be unveiled. In the fifth inning, when the game becomes official, a video produced by the Orioles will be played.

Tomorrow, Kinugasa will throw out the first ball, and Ripken likely will be the recipient, and a different video will be displayed in the fifth inning. When the Orioles return home Monday, Ripken and Kinugasa will be presented with gifts from the club, crystal baseballs.

Pub Date: 6/13/96

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