From the Yankees, Shock and Awe at Streak's End
By Camille Powell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, September 21, 1998; Page C1
BALTIMORE, Sept. 20 New York Yankees Manager Joe Torre sensed that something was a little different before tonight's game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards when he noticed that Cal Ripken wasn't taking his usual pregame throws.
So Torre decided he would be the one to take the Yankees' lineup card to the umpires, just in case his suspicion that Ripken was going to end his streak of consecutive games was correct.
Ripken "was sitting over there, like a possum waiting for something to happen. That's why I said to Chris [Chambliss, the hitting coach], I'll go up there because I wanted to be the first to know on our team," Torre said.
"I was trying to grab the lineup cards from [Orioles Manager Ray Miller], but he kept holding them to his chest. Then I saw [Ryan] Minor's name in there. What's interesting is that on the side where you put the extra guys, he didn't have Ripken's name because you're never used to putting it there. He had Minor there and Minor in the lineup."
The Yankees were just as surprised as the fans to discover that Ripken had decided voluntarily to end his consecutive games streak at 2,632. Most of the players learned of the news the same way the fans did when the lineups were announced.
"I didn't know until they announced the lineup. I think we were all a little shocked," Yankees catcher Joe Girardi said. "We didn't think it'd be today. You look at something like this, and see that there are eight games to go."
Girardi orchestrated the evening's most touching moment when, after Chuck Knoblauch grounded out to open the game, the Yankees emerged from their dugout and saluted Ripken by standing and applauding. Ripken acknowledged the Yankees' gesture by doffing his cap.
"What he's done is absolutely amazing. We owed it to him," Girardi said. "We felt we should do something. We kept waiting for something to happen, and nothing happened. We didn't know if they were going to stop the game or something."
The Yankees and the fans took care of that. The sellout crowd of 48,013 gave Ripken a standing ovation as Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter stood at the plate. Ripken took two curtain calls, and after the second one, he gestured toward the field as if to say, "Play ball."
"It was an unbelievably unique night, and [Ripken] handled it with extreme grace," said Yankees pitcher David Cone, whose team was involved in a bench-clearing brawl with the Orioles earlier this season that resulted in several suspensions.
"We tried to show him our respects by stepping out of the dugout and tipping our caps after the first out. It's a special situation and he's a special person. He deserves a lot of credit and respect because he's given a lot to the game."
Sean Monzet, a 21-year-old Yankees fan from Westchester County, N.Y., attended tonight's game with some friends from Towson University, where Monzet is a senior. He bought his ticket at the ballpark before the game, not realizing what he was going to see.
"His record is just amazing. I don't understand why he decided to end it," Monzet said. "And I don't understand why he decided to end it voluntarily. If it was me, I would've kept going until I was really hurt. This is pretty cool being here; I'm definitely going to save my ticket stub. I appreciate [what Ripken has done] as a baseball fan and as a sports fan."
Ripken's news conference was on in the Yankees' clubhouse after the game, and some of the Yankees agreed with Ripken's assessment that today was a happy day, not a sad one. "I don't know if it's necessarily a sad day. Cal doesn't seem to be too bothered by it. He did it on his terms," Jeter said. "Cal stands for something that's a lot bigger than the streak."
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