Ripken gets 3,000th hit

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Cal Ripken got his 3,000th hit on Saturday night, adding another huge number to his Hall of Fame resume.

The Baltimore Orioles baseball star, already renowned for playing a record 2,632 straight games, reached this milestone with his third hit of the game in Minneapolis.

Ripken became the 24th player to reach 3,000 hits, doing it a year after both Tony Gwynn and Wade Boggs joined the club.

Ripken lined a clean single to center field off Minnesota reliever Hector Carrasco for No 3,000. He was greeted at first base by coach and longtime teammate Eddie Murray, who also got his 3,000th hit at the Metrodome in 1995.

The 39-year-old Ripken shook hands with Twins first baseman Ron Coomer while the souvenir ball was retrieved by Baltimore's Will Clark.

Ripken took the ball, walked over to the first-base stands and flipped it underhand to his wife, Kelly, wearing a bright orange blazer and flanked by their two children.

Ripken returned to first base, took off his cap to acknowledge a standing ovation and then tapped his heart once as he mouthed the words "Thank you" to the crowd of about 22,000.

As part of the celebration, the Orioles spilled out of the dugout to congratulate Ripken.

Ripken entered the season nine hits shy of the mark, but was just 6-for-34 (.176) going into Saturday's game.

He grounded out in his first at-bat, then singled cleanly to right in the fourth off Sean Bergman. In the fifth, Ripken hit a high bouncer that third baseman Corey Koskie fielded, but had no play on for an infield single.

Right before Ripken came to bat in the seventh, Twins manager Tom Kelly was booed when he went to the mound to make a pitching change. Carrasco relieved Travis Miller, and his first pitch went for a passed ball that scored Albert Belle and put the Orioles ahead 5-4.

Ripken singled right up the middle on the next pitch.

Ripken conquered a bad back and the butterflies that had stoked a season-long slump.

"You just have to deal with it, plow through and get those hits," he said recently. "But I can see why someone would say the last few are the hardest ones to get."

Ripken became the seventh player in major league history to get 3,000 hits and 400 home runs. He was the AL MVP in 1983 and 1991 and the Rookie of the Year in 1982.

Of the 24 players to get 3,000 hits, 10 have done it on the road. Ripken was born and raised in the Baltimore area, and Orioles fans were hoping to see him reach the mark at Camden Yards.

"It's a little bit more nerve-racking, I guess," Ripken said of his quest for 3,000. "At least the games just came and added up each time. Getting a hit ... you have to do something. You can't just show up."

He said the secret to hitting - to any athletic success, really - was to suppress that adrenalin high, relax "and let your talent come through. But it's not easy."