Sox pay tribute, pass on free pass

They don't walk Anderson with Ripken on deck

`not what he stands for'

October 07, 2001|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,SUN STAFF

Joe Kerrigan played it by the book. Even in the last inning of the last game of the season, with nowhere to go but home, the manager of the Boston Red Sox would not deviate from baseball protocol.

And so, Cal Ripken's career ended in the on-deck circle, not the batter's box, much to the consternation of a sellout crowd of 48,807 at Camden Yards.

Kerrigan said he decided against walking Brady Anderson in the ninth inning to allow Ripken one final plate appearance because that's not the way the Orioles' icon played the game.

"I was thinking about the integrity of the game and what Ripken stands for," Kerrigan said after Boston's 5-1 victory closed out Ripken's 21st major-league season.

"When you mess with the integrity of the game, that's not what that man over there stands for."

It was a night of nostalgia and tributes, including a good share from the Red Sox themselves, who went back out on the field to watch Ripken's farewell speech.

"A remarkable night," Red Sox pitcher David Cone said after throwing Ripken an 0-for-3 farewell. "It was fitting it was here at home for Cal. It was an honor for me to be part of this game. Just to be in the ballpark all night felt great."

Cone said he threw Ripken only fastballs in what amounted to the classic confrontation.

"I challenged him all night," Cone said. "He swing the bat pretty well. The first time up he just hit the ball too hard. If he got a little lift, he would have hit a home run."

Ripken's first at-bat was a hard liner to left fielder Troy O'Leary. His second resulted in a popup behind shortstop. On his third - and final - at-bat, he hit a lazy fly to center fielder Trot Nixon. In baseball's scoring system, Baltimore's No. 8 flied out to eight, or center field.

Like everyone else in the ballpark, Cone figured it was likely Ripken's final plate appearance. Like everyone else, he had to recognize baseball's Iron Man.

"I did have to pause," Cone said. "I stepped off the mound and I gave him a standing ovation out there."

Cone, who has thrown a perfect game in his illustrious career, took off his glove and applauded Ripken.

It was an emotional evening for the Red Sox, as well.

"I think it already was a different feeling when I woke up this morning, knowing it was the end of the season and the end of a career," said Boston catcher Joe Oliver. "You can't help but get goose bumps when you come to the park and see your name in the lineup. ... You can't help pull for the guy."

Nixon, who has worked at Ripken's off-season fantasy camps, got to shake his hand during Ripken's post-game trip around the stadium.

"It was awesome, great, emotional," Nixon said. "A lot of people don't realize the significance of this. [But] I know how important he is to this game."

Nixon realized, too, that he had a special place in history when he caught Ripken's eighth-inning fly ball. "I thought about it [being his final at-bat], and I caught the ball and turned around and looked at him."

Most of the Red Sox said they will remember Ripken for the way he carried himself, the way he approached the game, and the way he dealt with others.

"The thing I'll remember him most for is his professionalism," said pitcher Tim Wakefield. "What he brought to the game, to go day in and day out without complaining about anything. That truly exemplifies what the game is all about. He is a true ambassador."

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