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Ripken's milestones pave way to Hall

Ripken's legacy more than his streak

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- "The Streak" will always be the defining achievement of Cal Ripken Jr.'s Major League career. Playing day in and day out, night in and night out for 2,632 consecutive games represented the ultimate work ethic as Ripken behaved the way most Americans expect of themselves -- to show up on the job every day.

But there was so much more with Ripken. He wasn't someone who just trotted onto the field every day but an intricate part of the Orioles' offense and defense. For more than five years, "The Streak" was not only measured in consecutive games but consecutive innings as well.

During this remarkable stretch of activity that covered nearly all of 16 seasons, Ripken did some amazing things. There was a Rookie of the Year season followed by a Most Valuable Player season. One game he hit for the cycle. One game he hit three home runs and drove in eight runs. One game he got six hits, two of them home runs. One game he broke Ernie Banks' record for home runs by a shortstop.

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Even after he ended "The Streak" in the last week of the 1998 season, Ripken kept doing wonderful things, like reaching the 3,000-hit and 400-home run milestones. He played in 19 All-Star Games and was the MVP in two of them. He won Gold Gloves and Silver Sluggers and had a penchant for coming up big in milestone games.

Here's a glance at some of those highlights:

May 30, 1982 -- Few were aware that day that Ripken, playing third base and batting eighth for the Orioles at Memorial Stadium against the Blue Jays, would play every game until late September 16 years later. Cal struck out, walked and grounded out to shortstop in a 6-0 loss.

July 1, 1982 -- Twenty seven games into "The Streak," Ripken is moved to shortstop by manager Earl Weaver, even though many in the organization opposed the idea of a 6-foot-4 player at that position. Cal went on to play short in 2,216 straight games through July 14, 1996, winning two Gold Gloves along the way and joining Ron Hansen (1960) as an Orioles shortstop American League Rookie of the Year winner.

Oct. 16, 1983 -- Ripken gloves a line drive by Phillies center fielder Garry Maddox for the final out of the World Series, which turned out to be Ripken's only appearance in the Fall Classic. The next month, Ripken is named the AL Most Valuable Player, becoming the first player to do so the year after being the Rookie of the Year -- a feat unmatched until 2005 and 2006 by Ryan Howard.

May 6, 1984 -- Ripken hits for the cycle with a triple, single, double and home run -- becoming the first Orioles player to accomplish the feat since Brooks Robinson in 1960 -- in a 6-1 Baltimore victory at Texas.

Sept. 14, 1987 -- With the Orioles getting blown out, 18-3, at Toronto, Baltimore manager Cal Ripken Sr. replaces his son in the field in the eighth inning with Ron Washington, now manager of the Rangers. It ends a stretch of 8,243 consecutive innings by Cal Jr. over a period of 904 games.

July 28, 1990 -- Ripken's errorless streak of 95 games -- a record for shortstops -- ends in Kansas City after 431 straight flawless chances.

July 9, 1991 -- One day after winning the Home Run Derby with a then-record 12 dingers in 22 swings, Ripken is named MVP of the AL's 4-2 victory in the All-Star Game at Toronto with a 2-for-3 performance, including a three-run home run in the third inning off former teammate Dennis Martinez.

November, 1991 -- Ripken wins his second MVP Award, joining Banks (National League, 1958-59) as the only shortstops to win twice. Robin Yount and Alex Rodriguez won their second MVPs at other positions.

Aug. 24, 1992 -- On his 32nd birthday, Ripken signs a five-year contract extension for $30.5 million that at the time makes him the game's highest-paid player.

July 15, 1993 -- Ripken's home run in the sixth inning off the Twins' Scott Erickson at Camden Yards is his 278th as a shortstop, breaking Banks' Major League record.

Sept. 6, 1995 -- When the Orioles-Angels game at Camden Yards becomes official in the middle of the fifth inning, a banner reading 2,131 is unveiled on the B&O Warehouse as Ripken's streak surpasses Lou Gehrig's record that had been considered unbreakable. With President Clinton and Vice President Gore in attendance, the crowd showers Ripken with raucous cheers for 22 minutes. Urged by teammates Bobby Bonilla and Rafael Palmeiro, Ripken responds by running around the field and high-fiving fans along the way. One inning earlier, Ripken had homered to give the O's the lead that made the game official before the home fifth.

May 28, 1996 -- Ripken hits three home runs and drives in eight runs, both personal bests, in a 12-8 Baltimore victory at the Seattle Kingdome.

Sept. 20, 1998 -- Initially planning to end the streak with the last game of the season, Ripken heeds the advice of wife Kelly and decides instead to end it with the Orioles' last home game against the Yankees. The Yanks stand in unison on the top step of the visitors' dugout and applaud the player across the way who stays off the field for the first time after 2,632 consecutive games.

June 13, 1999 -- Ripken goes 6-for-6, including two home runs off the Braves' John Smoltz and six RBIs. He ties a club record with 13 total bases in a 22-1 rout at Atlanta.

Sept. 2, 1999 -- Ripken's home run off the Devil Rays' Rolando Arroyo in the third inning is career No. 400.

April 15, 2000 -- Ripken gets the 3,000th hit of his career with his third hit of the game at the Metrodome -- a single in the seventh off Twins reliever Hector Carrasco.

July 10, 2001 -- In the All-Star Game at Seattle's Safeco Field, AL shortstop A-Rod switches roles with Ripken, the starting third baseman, in the first inning, giving Ripken the opportunity to play his former position. In his first plate appearance in the third inning, Ripken hits the first pitch from the Dodgers' Chan Ho Park to left for a home run and is subsequently named the game's MVP for the second time.

Jan. 9, 2007 -- Ripken is elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility and receives the highest vote total in the history of Baseball Writers' Association of America balloting: 537 of 545 ballots cast.

Jack O'Connell is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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