By Jacinda Sweet
Arizona Daily Wildcat
"One Day at a Time" was a popular television show in 1982, the year Cal Ripken Jr. began his journey toward 2,131 consecutive games.
It also describes the way he did it.
Ripken surpassed Lou Gehrig's record of 2,130 consecutive games played last night, a record once described as "unbeatable."
When the game became official with Baltimore leading 3-1 after 41/2 innings, Ripken calmly jogged off the field, and the crowd ignited into a 22-minute, 15-second long frenzy, during which Ripken made several curtain calls, visited his family sitting in the front row, and jogged around the stadium shaking hands with fans.
As if that wasn't enough, orange and black balloons were released when the B&O Warehouse, which is located behind the outfield of Baltimore's Camden Yards and had displayed the game count daily, changed the 10-foot-high numbers to 2131.
Surpassing Gehrig's record is something that seemed so unattainable, it was felt by millions when Ripken finally reached the pinnacle.
"He's gracious and noble," UA baseball coach Jerry Kindall said of Ripken. "His teammates speak highly of him, and he's a true gentleman. What better person to break this seemingly unbreakable record than Cal Ripken Jr."
As a major leaguer, Kindall played eight years with three different teams. He spent four years with the Chicago Cubs, two with the Cleveland Indians, and two as a Minnesota Twin.
During that time, Kindall played one complete season Ÿ 154 consecutive games.
"I was exhausted," Kindall said of his complete year, "and he has done it for 14 straight years. It is a tremendous achievement.
"It was every bit as difficult for Cal Ripken to play 2,130 consecutive games as it was for Lou. Gehrig played in a time when there was only eight teams, no teams west of the Mississippi, and all travel was by train. They even had Mondays off. I think the physical demands are much greater now."
Physically, Ripken is in great shape.
"He's proven he's more durable," said Shawn Barrington, a UA pitcher. "He illustrates that there's a difference between being hurt and being injured."
"It's uncommon as a middle infielder to avoid injury," Kindall said. "The possibilities are so high, with slides into second, double-play breakups. You're always in the middle of the action.
"Sure he's had banged-up ankles, spike wounds, sore knees. After all, he's not superhuman."
No, he's not superhuman, which makes his accomplishment so great. Ripken is an old breed of the "vanishing" ball player.
"He seems to be a throwback from the old school," Barrington said. "He comes to the ballpark ready to play."
Through all the hype, Ripken has never strayed from his course. He felt the pressure, but other players also felt a different kind of pressure.
"They were afraid they might hurt him," said Dan Ryan, KVOA-TV sports broadcaster. "Other players would not slide into second to bust up a double play, for fear of screwing up the record."
"I'm sure no pitcher wanted to drill him with a pitch, or break his hand, putting him out of the lineup," Kindall said. "But this shows respect.
"One of the great attributes paid to a professional baseball player is that the opponents respect you. They respect Ripken because he respects the other players, and he respects the game."
Said Ryan, "When I think of Cal Ripken, I think that baseball could not have a better representative. He's a very classy, blue-collar worker, with an honest approach to the game. He's the best thing to happen to Major League Baseball in light of last year's strike."
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