Richard Justice {Sports, Sept. 2} reports that when Cal Ripken Jr. struck out for the third time in a game against Seattle Sept. 1 he was roundly booed -- a first for this admirable player. I am sorry the fans voiced their displeasure this way, but could it be that Cal's iron-man stunt is finally catching up with him and that a day or two on the bench would help him to recover his batting eye? Everyone gets tired sometime.

I have long felt that in baseball's panoply of records, the record for consecutive games or innings played is the most egotistic and, as such, the most irrelevant. In baseball, it is the successes of the team that matter, not the pursuit of records that redound only to the credit of individual players (whose pursuit may, in fact, be inimical to the success of the team).

This year, when Cal has not had the kind of season Oriole fans would have wished for him (too many runners left on base!), I have found myself hoping that he would twist an ankle or sprain a finger -- nothing serious, just enough to cause him to miss one or two games. That way, the monkey would be off his back -- and off that of his father, the manager -- and he could sit down when he needs to.

ALBERT MEISEL

Chevy Chase