Miller uncomfortable in his role Manager hopes moment doesn't define his career

September 21, 1998|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Of all the things Ray Miller wants to be remembered for in a professional baseball career that began in 1964, this isn't one of them.

Though it wasn't his call to end The Streak, he'll forever be known as the manager of record when it happened. Cal Ripken walked into Miller's office 30 minutes before the game and asked to be taken out of the lineup. Miller obliged, and the rest is history.

Not long before, Miller had sat behind the desk in his office, twirling a cigar in his fingers and relaying his intentions of starting Ripken for the last week of the season. The only adjustment would be some early exits to weave in a young player like Ryan Minor.

"As far as this year goes, God willing, his streak is intact," Miller said. "That's something that probably will have to be approached or talked about once we find out if Pat Gillick is the general manager, or who's going to replace him, and who we retain and who we don't retain, and the makeup of the ballclub for 1999. All that's going to be involved before you can say, 'We'll do this and we'll do that.'

"It's almost a pleasure to walk in and be able to write one name down and not have to worry about it. Of the things that have bothered me and held us down this year, if you were to list them one through 10, I doubt Cal's streak would be in that 10. It probably would be 11, 12 or 13. I can't even fathom thinking about it."

He had no choice.

First, the Orioles announced that Gillick wouldn't be returning as general manager, which hardly sent ripples through the clubhouse since his departure had been considered a foregone conclusion. And soon after, Ripken put the brakes on a streak that had churned along for 2,632 games.

Miller already had said it would need to be "adjusted" next season. The end was near. He just had no idea how close.

"As to whether he will walk in here and do that, maybe he will," Miller said earlier. "Or maybe I'll be the one who does it. But to be perfectly honest with you, at this particular moment and time I'd hate to have this many years in baseball and this is what I'm remembered for."

Again, he had no choice.

Miller called John Maroon, the club's director of public relations, in the press box around 7: 45 p.m. and said, "You might want to come down here right away. It's pretty big."

"I suspected what was going on," Maroon said.

Maroon walked into Miller's office and saw him writing out a new lineup, with Ripken just a few feet away. "This is it," Ripken said. They shook hands.

"Ray seemed great about it," Maroon said. "He was just going about his business. He even made a little joke about someone taking a shot at him."

Pub Date: 9/21/98

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