Cal Ripken Jr will forever be linked with his chase for Lou Gehrig's consecutive games record, a mark he broke 25 years ago with game number 2,131. It is perhaps baseball's most unbreakable record, a testament to Ripken's strength of will and perseverance.
Some say that Ripken's streak was what truly saved baseball after the 1994 strike, and not the steroids-fueled home run chases that came later in the decade. But the Iron Man himself will tell you the record was the furthest thing from his mind.
"My job as a baseball player, what my dad instilled into me, was you can't play tomorrow's game until it gets here," Ripken told NBC Sports Washington. "And you can't replay yesterday's game. You can learn from it, but there's only one game today. So let's worry about today."
Ripken's record was a result of wanting to find ways to help his team win each and every day, not the focus of someone determined to make history.
In fact, Gehrig's wasn't even the record Ripken hoped to break in his career.
"I never was obsessed with the streak," Ripken said. "I didn't try to break Lou Gehrig's record. I mean, I wanted to break Hank Aaron's record, or I wanted to have more hits than Pete Rose...if I was obsessed with it and that was my main focus, I don't think I'd have been able to do it."
So if 755 home runs or 4,256 hits would have been difficult to come by, those records seem like they might be broken one day. Aaron's home run total has already been topped. Ripken's, on the other hand, seems unattainable. In the entire history of Major League Baseball, only Lou Gehrig has even played half as many consecutive games as Ripken.
But to him, baseball wasn't about setting records or notoriety. It was about one thing - winning,
"Coming to the ballpark and being considered an everyday player was important to me. Your team needs to count on you," Ripken said. "It can boil down to one game whether you make the playoffs or not. And it happened to me in 1982, we went to Game number 162 against the Milwaukee Brewers, and that last game decided the pennant. And I remember thinking it could be made up in April, May, June, July, it wasn't just the last game. So the importance of each game, to me, was important. And I thought it was my job as an everyday player, and being a player that hit in the middle of the lineup, to be out there every day. So it was more of a mindset of one day at a time."
One day at a time was a simple mindset for Ripken, but it's one that made him a Hall of Famer and a sports legend.