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Sat Jan 19 2002
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"Unless you're leading the Dog, the view never changes." - sign just outside the Yankees spring training clubhouse, Legends Field, Tampa, Florida



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To hear broadcaster Jon Miller tell it, the crowd may never have stopped cheering for Ripken when he broke Gehrig’s record had it not been for two Oriole players. It’s a moment Miller will never forget. The night of 2131.

“It was a great night because of what the crowd did and how the crowd sort of staged an impromptu celebration with Cal and Cal had said he would not allow the game to be stopped for any celebration,” Miller recalled.

“He said he would be happy to take part in any ceremonies they wanted to do after the game but not during the game. But you know each night when the game became an official game they had unfurled a banner behind the warehouse in right field with the new total and so the crowd was cheering and Cal came out and took a bow and then the crowd just kept on cheering and it went on and on and on. Ultimately, the crowd cheered for about 22 minutes, and you know, we didn’t know it at the time but Cal was actually running a fever.”

“He was actually sick with a mild case of the flu and hadn’t slept more than two hours, if that, for more than three or four nights and so Rafael Palmeiro and Bobby Bonilla went to him and said, ‘You’ve got to run a lap around the warning track and acknowledge all these people or we’re never going to get this game started!’”

“And Cal said, ‘I can’t. I’m not gonna do that.’ So he went back out again, tipped his cap and waved and now the cheers just got louder and louder and so finally then Palmeiro and Bonilla pushed him out of the dugout and started him on his way.”

“I mean, I’m surprised he did it because he said, ‘I can’t make it. I’ll never make it. I’m too exhausted to make a lap around the field.’ And they said, ‘Well, then walk around the field.’ So they finally push him out of the dugout and it was great. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house, you know?”

“And the beauty of it was it just all spontaneous. The crowd decided that they were going to celebrate this milestone with Cal and because it, you know, it wasn’t like a home run record or a hits record, it wasn’t like Henry Aaron breaking the Babe’s home run record or (Mark) McGwire hitting No. 62. It was a moment the guy hits and that’s when it happens. This we all knew, barring a rainout, that it was going to happen on that date months ahead of time as long as Cal kept playing so then when he took the field at shortstop we basically knew he had the record.”

“The David Letterman show called me that day and asked me to do a bit on the field via satellite where Letterman said, “Hey, we’re taping the show before the game, but airing the show after the game. So he said, ‘Can you give our audience a feel for what it was like when he broke the record and tell us what you’re going to say when he gets the record.’ And the hook for me was to say, ‘Alright, here we are, the Orioles take the field, and Ripken heads out to shortstop. He’s there now and that’s the record.’ It was a good joke, they had a good joke at the Ed Sullivan Theatre, but it was also very true! It felt anti-climatic!”

“It was unique – I mean right in the middle of a game! I don’t think there has been anything quite like it.”

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Jan 19 2002, 22:16:44
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