It’s been 25 years since Cal Ripken Jr. broke Lou Gehrig’s record of 2,131 consecutive games played, making him baseball’s official “Iron Man” and further cementing his candidacy as a Hall of Famer. One of the most historic games in the history of the sport, it’s a night that will live forever in the memories of Orioles fans, baseball fans and Ripken himself.
But among all the festivities of the evening, the one moment that stands out the most to Ripken is one that was unplanned.
“I will say the most moving moment was when I had eye contact with my dad,” Ripken said on NBC Sports Washington’s D.C. Sports Live. “I lost my dad way back in ’99 so he’s been gone 20 years. He died of lung cancer at 63 years old. But dad was from the old school, he didn’t say that he loved you. But during that time he looked up there was 1,000 words flying back and forth between me and him.”
On Sunday, the Orioles will honor the 25-year anniversary of Ripken’s record-breaking night by printing patches that each player will wear on their jerseys. MASN will add a “2,131” graphic on the facing of the B&O Warehouse and Ripken’s son Ryan, a minor-leaguer in the Orioles’ system, will throw out a pre-recorded first pitch that will be shown on the scoreboard of every park in the league.
Only just recently re-watching the game for the first time as part of an MLB Network special with Tom Verducci, Ripken singled out that moment with his father as the one he cherishes the most two and a half decades later. Ripken Sr. managed both his sons Cal Jr. and Billy in 1987-88 and spent more than 35 years in the Orioles’ organization.
Ripken wasn’t sure if his father had made it to the game that night. But during his final victory lap around Camden Yards, he spotted him in the family’s luxury box and they shared a moment that he still treasures today.
“I didn’t need the words, they were all right there,” Ripken said. “That gave me chills and kinda got me a little emotional when I saw that on the broadcast.”