It was 20 years ago today in a game against the New York Yankees that Cal Ripken Jr. ended his consecutive game streak at 2,632. His replacement, Ryan Minor, had no idea that he was going to play third base for the Orioles that day. He had no idea he was even going to get into the game. It wasn’t until about 30 minutes prior to the game that his manager, Ray Miller, informed him to grab his gear and get ready to play third that night. It took a few seconds to sink in, but Minor eventually realized that something big was going to happen that night, according to Yahoo Sports.
For over 16 years, Ripken walked onto the field for the Orioles and gave it his all. First as a shortstop who helped redefine the position for generations to come, and then as a third baseman. Prior to Ripken being the all-time iron man in the MLB, it was Lou Gehrig, the great Yankee first baseman that played on some of the greatest teams ever, who held the record at 2,130 games. The record stood for 56 years. Only five other players have even reached 1,000 consecutive games in baseball history, and of those, Everett Scott was the closest to the “Iron Man” and “Iron Horse” with 1,307 consecutive games, per the MLB website.
Cal Ripken Jr. was not in #Orioles the lineup, 20 years ago today, on Sept. 20, 1998, for the first time since May 29, 1982—a day on which he actually played, but sat during the second game of that day's doubleheader. His Iron Man streak spanned 2,632 games and 5,957 days.
— Ryan M. Spaeder (@theaceofspaeder) September 20, 2018
Ryan Minor told Yahoo that when he went to the batter’s box, the umpire was so dumbstruck by Ripken not being at the plate, that he actually talked to him.
“Is this it? He’s not playing? Is this the night?”
It was indeed the night, and suddenly the umpire’s notebooks on the game and lineup cards became moments for the Baseball Hall of Fame. The same was true for the official scorekeeper’s card, and nearly everything else connected to the game, including Minor’s uniform, bat, or anything else, if Cooperstown came calling. An average game suddenly, for some, became a once-in-a-lifetime event.
"The Streak" ended on this day 20 years ago for the Iron Man, Cal Ripken Jr. I appeared on CNN Moneyline to discuss when he broke Lou Gehrig's longstanding consecutive games record. #tbt pic.twitter.com/L98rJ26gQ4
— Brandon Steiner (@BrandonSteiner) September 20, 2018
For Minor, it was a night to shine, finally getting a chance to play third base, but there was so much going on and so much to take in, that it was almost overwhelming in some regards, per The Washington Post. He made history just by walking onto the field. Ripken went on to become a first ballot Hall of Fame inductee, and Minor didn’t quite live up to the promise he showed as a prospect. He only played in nine games that year, but he played in a big one that he will always be remembered for.
'It's better to talk about it than to be forgotten': On the 20th anniversary of Cal Ripken Jr. ending his streak of 2,632 consecutive games played, the man who replaced him, Ryan Minor, reflects on his place in history. https://t.co/ygbYkJBCW6
— Sports'eur (@sportseur) September 20, 2018
He played his final MLB game in 2001 with Montreal, not even compiling 162 career games. He posted a career 0.177 batting average with five home runs, according to Baseball Reference. Minor is now field manager of the Frederick Keys of the Carolina League, and every night this season he saw a video at home games that celebrates 50 years of Roy Rogers restaurants, 30 years of Frederick Keys baseball, and 20 years since Cal Ripken Jr.’s streak ended. He said it makes him feel old, but he’s okay with it.
“I guess it’s better to talk about it than be forgotten.