BALTIMORE, JULY 10 -- One era gave way to another tonight as the Baltimore Orioles said goodbye to infielder Rick Burleson and recalled Billy Ripken from Rochester.
Thus, they formally ushered in the final piece of the Ripken Era and Saturday night will become the first team in major league history to have a father, Cal Ripken Sr., manage his two sons, shortstop Cal Ripken Jr., and Billy, a second baseman.
His promotion comes at a time when the Orioles (34-52) are suffering through their worst season in 33 years and at a time when at least two other veterans, Alan Wiggins and Lee Lacy, have been on thin ice as the club reshapes its roster for 1988 and beyond.
The move of Billy Ripken, 22, to the major leagues also opens up a spot at Class AAA, and the Orioles filled it tonight by promoting Pete Stanicek from Charlotte.
The moves set the stage for the two to compete for the starting job next spring, and almost everyone in the organization rates Stanicek, a first-rate leadoff man and adequate defensive player, as the likely winner.
However, club sources say the housecleaning that was expected a week ago probably will end with Burleson's release for now. That's because two other moves the baseball staff favored, the release of Lacy and Wiggins, have been vetoed by owner Edward Bennett Williams because of the remaining $1.75 million on their contracts.
Burleson's release was different. He was under a one-year $475,000 contract, and it would become guaranteed for 1988 only if he had started 100 games or played in 120 games. Now 37 and having suffered through two serious shoulder injuries, Burleson, a four-time all-star, took his release in stride and said his baseball career was probably over.
"Fate has dealt him a cruel blow," Orioles General Manager Hank Peters said. "He was injured in the prime of his career, then, after working like heck to come back, he was hurt again. He's got to be a little bit bitter."
Burleson, who hadn't had his average above .219 since April 10, said he isn't.
"I just didn't produce offensively," he said. "I got a chance and didn't do the job. I did feel I was doing a good job defensively, but I guess it wasn't good enough. I'm not bitter. I'm as disappointed in my performance as anyone. I just wish I could have been in there on a daily basis. But I understand what's going on. The club isn't winning, and it's time to start building for the future."
He said he will go home to California and "relax. I'd still like to play, but I don't want to get into another situation like this. I think my baseball days are over."
Meanwhile, Billy Ripken was ecstatic about joining his brother and dad and playing in his first major league game.
"I'm happier than heck," he said, speaking from Rochester. "I've been getting hints for four days now, and it's all I could think of. I find myself driving down the street, and I look at the speedometer and am going 80 mph. I can't concentrate on anything else. I was just out here thinking I might be taking my last AAA batting practice. Jeez, it's overwhelming."
Asked what he thought his dad would say, he said, "I don't know. He'll probably say what he says to everyone else, which is, 'Congratulations, let's get to work.' It's really a dream come true, but the thing is to produce after you put the uniform on. I'll get to put the uniform on. Now, I want to stay."
He was hitting .286 at Rochester.
Peters wouldn't say Billy would become the Orioles' starting second baseman, but did say, "We're not bringing him up here to sit on the bench."