Cal Ripken and Sachio Kinugasa, who gained fame in different countries and in different leagues, now share a record that can be appreciated by baseball fans of any culture.
Ripken tied Kinugasa’s record of playing in 2,215 consecutive games Thursday night, going 1 for 4 in the Baltimore Orioles’ 10-2 loss to the Kansas City Royals. With Kinugasa watching from the stands at Kauffman Stadium, Ripken equaled the mark set by the Japanese third baseman from 1970 to 1987.
Ripken, who broke Lou Gehrig’s major-league record of 2,130 successive games last September, can surpass Kinugasa today.
Ripken and Kinugasa held a joint news conference after Thursday’s game, and the soon-to-be former record holder had nothing but praise for the Baltimore shortstop.
“I sensed in Cal the same attitude toward baseball - a sense of joy and devotion to the game - that I had,” Kinugasa said through an interpreter. “That’s the kind of thing that made it possible for him to break the record.”
The celebration marking the event was decidedly less fanatical than last year, when President Clinton joined a sellout crowd at Camden Yards to watch Ripken top Gehrig’s hallowed record.
There were only 20,108 fans in attendance Thursday. In the middle of the fifth inning, when the game became official, the crowd stood and cheered for 2 minutes, 15 seconds. Ripken doffed his cap, waved to the fans and then got back to business.
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