Royals Pay Tribute to Cal Ripken
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Cal Ripken closed another chapter in his retirement scrapbook Thursday, making his final road appearance versus the Kansas City Royals, the team that he made his first major league appearance against.
``There are so many things you can say,″ Ripken said in a pre-game ceremony. ``The best thing to say is that it has been an honor and a privilege to play in front of you for all these years. We’ve got one more game to play, let’s get to it.″
This is the fifth road opponent he has faced since announcing his retirement on June 19. He has homered against each of those teams _ Atlanta, Florida, Texas, Anaheim and Kansas City on Wednesday.
Ripken made his major league debut as a pinch runner for Ken Singleton in the 12th inning and scored the winning run of a home game against Kansas City on Aug. 10, 1981. In his career versus the Royals, he has a .300 batting average, with 35 home runs and 125 RBIs.
Two days after his debut, he made his first start and had his first at-bat against the Royals’ Paul Splittorff. It was the second game of a doubleheader and Ripken remembers that it was a ground ball up the middle. He said he was thrown out at first by Royals second baseman Frank White ``by this much,″ with his finger and thumb an inch apart.
He also recorded his first major league home run, double and RBI against the Royals’ Dennis Leonard in the season-opening series in Baltimore on April 5, 1982.
Although most of the attention for Ripken’s consecutive games streak ended when he broke Lou Gehrig’s major league record on September 6, 1995, he broke the professional baseball record in Kansas City on June 14, 1996, when he passed Japanese star Sachio Kinugasa’s record of 2,215 games.
Kansas City play the Orioles in Baltimore Aug. 14-16.