Ripken hit pushes him to top of another list Seventh-inning single passes B. Robinson as club's all-time hit leader

August 22, 1998|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Cal Ripken was looking for a breaking ball. He swung at a fastball.

"Pretty smart hitting, huh?" he said.

Pretty effective. Ripken grounded a two-out single into right field in the seventh inning last night for his 2,849th career hit, breaking the Orioles' record previously held by Hall of Fame third baseman Brooks Robinson.

Ripken fouled off the first pitch from Cleveland starter Jaret Wright before finding a hole on the right side. A crowd of 48,374, the largest ever for a regular-season game at Camden Yards, immediately rose for an ovation that lasted until the next batter, Willie Greene, had taken a pitch from Wright.

Greene then sliced a home run to left, his first in the American League, to score Ripken and reduce the Indians' lead to 4-3 in a game Cleveland won, 6-3.

A message appeared on the video board that read: "Congratulations Cal on yet another milestone in your remarkable career."

Ripken shook hands with Indians rookie first baseman Richie Sexson, then acknowledged the fans by removing his batting helmet and waving.

He requested the ball, which Wright tossed toward the Orioles' dugout. Manager Ray Miller came out to retrieve it.

"Your whole career, you think about the feelings you have for the Orioles," said Ripken, who was appearing in his 2,606th consecutive game. "I grew up in this area. I've been an Orioles fan. My dad was in the organization. I had a lot of pride in their organization for a long time. It was a hope of mine to be drafted by them. To play for your team and then have a long career, it seems like all those things flash before your mind.

"This is just another one of those things you don't expect to happen, but you play a long time and get some hits and inch your way up the list, and all of a sudden you pass Brooks. In a way it's kind of unbelievable, and in another way it makes you feel extremely proud to be able to contribute all these years."

Sexson, who was recalled from the minors on Aug. 8, found the handshake a little awkward "just because I hadn't been here long enough. But if anyone had been playing first base, they would have done the same thing," he said.

"Obviously, I grew up watching Cal play. He's big, he's huge, he's almost bigger than the game."

Ripken tied the record on Thursday with a home run off Tampa Bay's Tony Saunders. He had struck out and popped to Sexson in his first two at-bats last night before extending his hitting streak to 10 games. Indians closer Mike Jackson got Ripken to pop to Sexson again to strand Harold Baines and end the game in the ninth.

Ripken has reached base in 45 straight games and 55 of 57. The hit also gave him sole possession of 36th place on baseball's all-time list, one behind Jesse Burkett.

"Tonight was a personal moment, to get a hit that will push you past Brooks Robinson, and the ovation that I got from the crowd was just unbelievable," Ripken said. "But it's hard to get happy when you don't win."

Pub Date: 8/22/98

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