Cal Ripken Jr. joins WTOP to talk about The Streak

May 28, 2024 | (Noah Frank)

WASHINGTON — Cal Ripken, Jr. joined WTOP Tuesday morning, just a few days shy of the 20th anniversary of the day he broke Major League Baseball’s consecutive games played streak.

Ripken spoke with WTOP Senior Sports Director Dave Johnson on the air, then stayed around to chat after for a while, in a clip you can hear above.

Many baseball fans credited Ripken’s streak with restoring interest and faith in the game after the strike and lockout of 1994 cost baseball the World Series and drove many fans away.

“A lot of people were not too happy with the business side of baseball,” Ripken said of the mood following the 1994 season.

“I think they preferred to look at it as a game. And I think the streak itself tied itself back to when people thought of it as a game.”

Ripken understands, looking back, the role he had in bringing the fans back. Earlier this year, he took time to reflect upon his accomplishment, which looks even more unsurpassable 20 years later.

“I didn’t set out to do it and I don’t think I was the savior,” Ripken said.

“But I think at some point, right after the strike was over and the cancellation of the World Series, people were looking for something good, and The Streak was something good for them.”

A defining aspect of The Streak when compared with other sports accomplishments was its relatability. It was not a showcase of superhuman strength or speed, but rather the ability to show up day after day, ready to meet the challenges that awaited.

“One of the things I learned during that streak is that everyone relates to showing up and being counted on,” said Ripken, who relayed a lesson he learned from his father and manager at an early age.

“Dad defined a gamer as someone who came to the ballpark ready to meet the challenges.”

Even though it has been 20 years since that night, it still remains a vivid memory for many baseball fans, regardless of whether or not they supported the Orioles. Meanwhile, Ripken remains directly a part of the game as a minor league owner and youth instructor, and indirectly as an ambassador, always happy to talk about the game and the indelible mark he left on it.

“In some cases you look back and say, ‘The accomplishment was the accomplishment 20 years ago,’ nothing’s really changed except the time added onto it,’” Ripken said. “But it’s been fun reminiscing and it’s been fun talking about it.”

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