Cal Ripken’s ceremonial first pitch was a perfect strike to Jake Fox. Knowing Cal, that shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Seeing Fox behind the plate was the shocker. But I digress...
It was nice of the Rays to stand and applaud Ripken as he walked to the mound. They moved to the top step of the dugout. They stopped playing catch. Evan Longoria stood the closest to home plate, and he might have been clapping the hardest.
Buck Showalter was managing the Yankees on the nights that Ripken tied and broke Lou Gehrig’s consecutive-games record on Sept. 5 and 6, 1995.
Showalter can’t believe that 15 years have passed. Join the club.
“It was remarkable. That won’t be broken. Won’t even get close,” Showalter said.
“I remember as he was getting closer, thinking, ‘He’s actually going to do this.’ It’s been great for me to talk to Richie (Bancells) about some of the challenges. I know he’s getting tired of me asking him how close some of it came sometimes, some of the different things. It stands for so many things, more than just a number.
“It was a record that everybody in baseball celebrated. Just made you realize through the years that he had always been there.
“It surprises me that anybody was able to do it, but it doesn’t’ surprise me that Cal was the guy. And it ain’t gonna happen again. Count on it.
“Think about the pressure on different people other than Cal. The traveling secretary getting him from Point A to Point B. And don’t think he didn’t play through some real stuff that other people would not have tried to play through. And I don’t think it was because he had the streak going. It wasn’t like, ‘I’ve got to play through this and penalize the team because I had the streak going.’ It was, ‘I’ve got to play through this because the Baltimore Orioles need me to be a guy they can count on.’ Some people miss that. There were many nights I was hoping he’d take a night off.
“He helped me realize I wasn’t going to be a big league player. If I was, not for very long. If that’s what they looked like, I ain’t going to be able to do that. He and Donnie Mattingly helped my career a lot move on.
“I told him the other day when we were sitting up in Aberdeen how proud his dad must be of him. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t look in the dugout and see the plaque. I remember watching his dad as a third base coach and saying, ‘Boy, that’s what a third base coach is supposed to be like.’”
By the way, four players that Showalter managed in New York are still with the Yankees: Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte. Showalter can visit with them tomorrow.
“I’m waiting for them to quit, too,” he said. “In fact, I’m going to ask them to when I see them.”