The Orioles organization forever changed 39 years ago today, as Cal Ripken, Jr. made his Major League debut at Memorial Stadium on August 10, 1981.
Might be the only time I was ever inserted in the game as a pinch runner!— Cal Ripken, Jr. (@CalRipkenJr) August 10, 2020
A work stoppage had interrupted the 1981 season, causing the cancellation of 38% of the MLB schedule that year. When play resumed, Baltimore called up its 2nd round pick from the 1978 draft, and Ripken immediately made an impact (on the base paths!)
“Wow, 39 years went by fast!” Ripken wrote on Monday. “I still remember getting the news and driving to Baltimore from Rochester.. what an exciting time. Scored the winning run against the Royals as a pinch runner too. Great memory!”
Cal was inserted as a pinch runner for Ken Singleton in the 12th inning against the Royals and would come around to score on a single by John Lowenstein. It was the first of 1,647 runs he would score over his 21-year career with the O’s. Ripken would get his first big league start the two days later in the 2nd game of a doubleheader against Kansas City and would appear in 23 total games that season. His historic consecutive games streak would not begin until May 30th, 1982 and would continue all the way until September 19, 1998.
The Ironman’s resume speaks for itself: Rookie of the Year in 1982, World Series champion in 1983, 2-time MVP, 2-time Gold Glover, 8-time Silver Slugger and a 19-time All-Star selection. That Hall-of-Fame career began 39 years ago today as a pinch runner in the 12th inning.
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