Cal Ripken Jr. of the Baltimore Orioles broke Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games played streak 25 years ago today
As we watch today’s players set new records and milestones, we can’t forget one of baseball’s greatest achievements: Baltimore Orioles legend Cal Ripken Jr. breaking Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games played streak. He played in game number 2,131 on September 6, 1995. After 25 years, it still holds lots of meaning for the game.
For those who were around and remember the 1994-1995 strike, it was a terrible time in our game’s history. We lost the World Series for the first time in 90 years. When players came back, they were subjected to tons of criticism; in some cases, fans were throwing money at the players on the field, mocking their alleged greed for more money.
Cal Ripken Jr. helped to save the day
We can’t blame the fans for being angry back then. Yet as always has been the case in baseball’s history, the game finds a way to heal itself. The home run chase of 1998 has received a lot of credit for helping to “bring baseball back.” Yet before that, and more immediately, there was Ripken. And unlike the home run chase, steroids have not been a part of the story.
Ripken’s quest gave us something positive to focus on amidst all the negativity. Earlier this year, ESPN re-ran its coverage of the game. I caught the middle innings, and when the game became official after five innings, they stopped play for a long time and the crowd in Baltimore gave a rousing ovation for their hero. It signaled a triumphant return for the game and a reminder of why we enjoy it so much.
Baseball has faced more adversity this season, with the outbreak of COVID-19, the shortened season, the lack of fans in the stands, and all the disagreements between owners and players that had to take place to get this season underway. Yet, the game itself will always prevail.
It won’t be from anyone breaking Ripken’s streak of 2,632 consecutive games, as that is regarded among the safest records in all of the professional sports. Still, we’re sure to see something (or things) take place that will remind us of our passion for the game. I can’t wait to see what will happen next.