The Baltimore Orioles dedicated a statue to hall of famer Cal Ripken Jr. last night on the anniversary of him breaking the record for consecutive games played. They should have done it on another date, because Ripken didn’t break the record.
New York Yankees hall of fame first baseman Lou Gehrig holds the record for most consecutive games played with 2,130 not Ripken. There is nothing to debate and no argument. Ripken’s streak ended at 2,009 games on August 11, 1994 when the MLBPA went on strike effectively ending the season.
Think about it. In any other profession when a person takes a day off three things happen. They get sick pay, vacation pay or no pay. One thing they do not get is a recorded day at work. No matter how you slice it one has taken the day off.
If the metro transit system in your town goes on strike and there are no bus drivers then are they at work? No, they are off. And every day that they don’t report to work is considered a day off by everyone, especially those who use public transportation. When they come back no one says, ‘Welcome back. We understand what you had to do. As far as we’re concerned you’ve never missed a day of work.’
When the MLBPA went on strike Ripken went with them. When he went with them his streak came to an end. There was never a hint that Ripken regretted going on strike. There was never a hint that he cared whether the streak came to an end. Ripken’s feelings about the strike were so strong that when it was mentioned that teams may use replacement players he said he would not come back to resume it.
Of course he didn’t have to, because it was already over.
The consecutive games streak set by Ripken was strictly public relations. Ripken is well liked in baseball. The game needed to bring fans back after the strike. It was the perfect match.
It is time to set the record straight. Ripken is not the all-time leader in consecutive games played. It is Gehrig. He never missed a game from June 1, 1925 to May 2, 1939. Though Gehrig may not have played every inning he was on the field 2,130 consecutive times.
So while the Orioles give Ripken a statue maybe they need to do what the immortal Clubber Lang said and give him guts.
Give him the guts to admit that 2,130 are more than 2,009. After all Ripken has always said the streak doesn’t define him. He can prove it by admitting the truth.