McGwire love-fest is flashback for Ripken Family involvement shared

Orioles notebook

Miller wants Mills in '99

September 10, 1998|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

OAKLAND, Calif. -- At 6:18 p.m. local time Tuesday, Cal Ripken and Mark McGwire were doing what comes easily.

Ripken was signing autographs for those gathered alongside the visitors dugout at Oakland Coliseum. McGwire was taking Steve Trachsel deep for his 62nd home run. Ripken glanced up at the stadium matrix just as the ball vanished behind the Busch Stadium left-field wall.

Classifying it as "an amazing record," Ripken said McGwire's assault on the home run record last season made this year's run easier to comprehend. Instead of stopping at 58 as he did last season, McGwire just kept going.

"Just the mere fact somebody has done it before you knew it was possible someone could come along and do it," Ripken said. "The fact that Mac came so close the last few years prepared us for the possibility it could happen. The way Mac was going, when he got to 50 before Sept. 1, it just made it more real.

"When you think about the big picture, 62 home runs is unbelievable."

Ripken and the crowd surrounding him were equally captivated by the celebration.

"You stop what you're doing," Ripken recalled. "A chill goes through your spine watching such an event unfold."

Watching McGwire share the moment with his son, his parents and the family of Roger Maris brought back memories of Ripken's Streak Week in September 1995 when he broke Lou Gehrig's record of 2,130 consecutive games played. Like McGwire, Ripken involved his family and teammates while paying homage to the man whose record he broke.

"It brings a certain humanity to the event. It does make you remember your own special set of circumstances. I remember the celebrations of Sept. 5 and Sept. 6 [1995] and all that was going on with my family in the midst of that. It's just a great thing to watch."

Miller backs Mills

So far he has been the Orioles' forgotten man in contract talks, but Alan Mills has a backer in manager Ray Miller. Mills, one of the club's seven pending free agents, has not heard anything from the club and recently admitted he expects to be elsewhere next season. If so, he insists it isn't his preference.

"I like Baltimore. I love playing there. I'd like to stay there. If it wasn't so cold in the winter, I'd move there," said the Lakeland, Fla., resident. "But it's something I can't control."

Though they have signed Jesse Orosco, Jeff Reboulet and Harold Baines and intend to pick up Juan Guzman's club option for next season, the Orioles appear stuck on Mills, B. J. Surhoff, Rafael Palmeiro and Roberto Alomar. Club sources indicate that there is no intention of re-signing the mercurial Alomar, who apparently has been targeted by the Cleveland Indians and Atlanta Braves. Mills, who has allowed runs in only eight of his last 38 appearances, does not represent a high-dollar project.

Miller said of Mills: "Since the All-Star break, he's been very consistent and I've pitched him a lot. He's basically pitched in a one-inning slot. If you take batting average vs. Orosco, [Armando] Benitez, [Arthur] Rhodes and Mills, you've got a pretty outstanding bunch."

Around the horn

Right fielder Willie Greene received his first start since Aug. 28 but was pulled after six innings with a noticeable limp. Greene will undergo an MRI today to determine whether a pulled muscle in his lower abdomen is more serious than first thought. Greene is unable to run at full speed because of the injury that makes stretching painful. Orosco has an outside shot at reaching Hoyt Wilhelm's 1,018 relief appearances during the upcoming 10-game homestand. Orosco has 1,014. Lee Smith ranks third with 1,016. Eric Davis has hit in 44 of his last 49 games, including a groundout in a ninth-inning pinch-hitting appearance yesterday. Game time for the Orioles-Yankees game Sept. 19 at Camden Yards has been changed from 7: 05 p.m. to 1: 15 p.m.

Pub Date: 9/10/98

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.