Minor's new beginning recalls end of an era

January 27, 2008|By ROCH KUBATKO

It's nice to have Ryan Minor back in the organization. Talk about a stroll down memory lane. Just hearing the name gets my feet moving.

The Orioles completed the changes to their minor league coaching staff by hiring Minor as a field coach at Single-A Delmarva, where he played in 1997 and was regarded as a top prospect in the organization.

Minor didn't pan out, but I'll always respect how he handled the pressure and attention that came with replacing Cal Ripken Jr. in the lineup on the night baseball's Iron Man voluntarily ended his consecutive-games streak.

Manager Ray Miller notified Minor he'd be starting at third base instead of Ripken. Minor replied, "Does Cal know?"

Classic.

One of my assignments for The Sun was to write a story about Minor, so I watched his every move. I remember how he jogged out of the dugout and looked back over his shoulder, as if to make sure Ripken wasn't behind him and he hadn't been the victim of a practical joke.

The game began with Ripken on the bench, where he never looked comfortable, and he was given a rousing ovation once his image appeared on the video board after the first out was recorded.

I'm guessing there were a few fans at Camden Yards that night who didn't realize what was going on until that moment because having Ripken at third base was such a given. Who bothered to check? I'll never forget how the New York Yankees stepped out of the dugout to applaud Ripken and tip their caps to him. It was such a classy gesture and showed how much respect he commanded throughout baseball.

roch.kubatko@baltsun.com

For more Roch Around the Clock, go to baltimoresun.com/roch

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