An ardent baseball fan

Letter No. 264 | October 10, 2001

Most sports fans have heard of Cal Ripken, the baseball player who retired at the end of 2001 after a long baseball career of 21 years. He played from 1981 to 2001 with the Baltimore Orioles. At age 41, he is retiring none too soon, since his bat was extremely quiet at the end of the season. Cal is especially noted for his ironman feat known as "The Streak"—playing in 2,632 consecutive baseball games and surpassing the previous record of Lou Gehrig who had 2,130 games. "The Streak" began in 1981 and ended in 1998, and the sports world marveled at Cal's achievement. During his career Ripken played in a total of 3,001 games.

Most sports fans, like myself, enjoy reading about athletes breaking records, like Barry Bonds hitting 73 home runs in 2001 for a new record. I thought it interesting to note another "Streak" which few sports fans will ever read or hear about. A recent Washington Post article cites another streak whereby a devoted Ripken fan, Jean Sampson, never missed a home game in Cal's 21-year career. She has never even been late or missed a single pitch thrown to her baseball icon. Sampson, 50, had seen 5,560 Ripken at-bats, applauded his 214 home runs, 1,487 hits and 841 runs. Including away games, Cal's complete career statistics are roughly double those numbers. When asked about her "streak," Ms Sampson remarked that it was nothing remarkable or nothing that she planned—it just sort of happened. "It's only 81 days a year," she said. "I've got more than 280 other days to do other things."

A full figure bronze statue of Cal is planned in the future for Camden Yards, the Orioles' Baseball Park. Somehow, I think Ms Sampson's face or name should also be emblazoned on that statue.

Best Wishes,
Frank Charney


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