Major League Baseball legends recount unforgettable games in their careers in MLB Network's new series My Most Memorable Game beginning this Thursday at 9:00 p.m. ET as Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. discusses the night in September 1995 he played his 2,131st consecutive game and broke Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig's streak of games played.
Co-hosted by Bob Costas and Tom Verducci, My Most Memorable Game features Ripken, eight-time All-Star John Smoltz, and Hall of Famers Ozzie Smith, Bob Gibson, Johnny Bench and Tom Glavine as they relive the memories they have from a signature game in their storied careers.
Throughout the hour-long interview filmed in Cooperstown, New York in July 2013, Ripken talks about his emotions leading up to and during the game, being linked to Gehrig in baseball history, criticism he faced during the streak, the closest he came to missing a game prior to breaking the record, and the mentality needed to accomplish the feat.
My Most Memorable Game will continue throughout the offseason as Smoltz discusses his complete game shutout to win Game Seven of the 1991 NLCS (Jan. 23, 9pm ET), Smith reminisces about his walkoff home run to end Game Five of the 1985 NLCS (Jan. 30, 9pm ET), Gibson talks about his record-setting 17 strikeout performance in Game One of the 1968 World Series (Jan. 30, 9:30pm ET), Bench recounts his game-tying home run during Game Five of the 1972 NLCS (Feb. 6, 9pm ET), and Glavine relives his eight shutout innings to clinch Game Six of the 1995 World Series (Feb. 6, 9:30pm ET).
Highlights from the conversation with Ripken include:
On where his 2,131st game ranks in his career:
To me, the best feeling I've ever had on a baseball field is catching the last out of the World Series. Fulfillment, gratification, part of the dream, it all floods to you at once. The best human moment has to be September 6, 1995. I would have rather had it been about the team going for a pennant, but as it turns out, we fell out of the race and it was all about celebration and maybe linking current history with past history.
On criticism he faced leading up to breaking the streak:
I was proud of the fact that I could play all those games. I was proud of the fact that in order to do that you have to be responsible, you have to be willing to come out there. ... I think the only part about the streak that bothered me ... is that [fans] said it was a selfish obsession. It wasn't. It was actually the opposite. I was giving up a little bit of me for the sake of the challenge of today because that's how I was brought up.
On what he felt the morning after he tied Gehrig's record:
There was a lot of pressure starting to build up. I never felt the pressure in the streak itself because that wasn't my goal. And then all of a sudden there was this celebration and there was this set time for this to happen, and all of a sudden, you felt like you had a responsibility to get to the finish line. Once the tying game was over, it was a foregone conclusion that ... the record-breaking game would come, so there was a little sense of relief. I was worn out. I was trying to give as much as I can to that process. Mentally and emotionally, I was a little worn down.
On running around the field to thank the fans after breaking the streak:
It was a World Series-sort of atmosphere in that game. All of a sudden...you start to see some people you know...This massive celebration became very personal very quickly. As I went around, I wanted to touch as many people as I could...As I went around, the pace got slower and slower and slower, and [I] really started to enjoy that moment.
On making eye contact with his father after breaking the record:
That was the most emotional part of the whole thing. ... He wanted to be up in the skybox so I didn't get a chance to speak any words to him, but when [I] actually caught eyes and looked at him, a million words were going back-and-forth. ... Dad was from the old school, maybe it's his generation where he didn't express himself in terms of love out loud. He just showed it. ... Looking up ... it was an expression of love that we communicated in that brief period of time. ... It's still emotional to this day.
About MLB Network:
MLB Network is the ultimate television destination for baseball fans, featuring the multiple Emmy Award-winning MLB Tonight, live regular season and Postseason game telecasts, original programming, highlights, and insights and analysis from the best in the business, including Bob Costas, Peter Gammons, Jim Kaat, Al Leiter and Harold Reynolds. MLB Network debuted on January 1, 2009 in a record-setting 50 million homes and is currently distributed in approximately 70 million homes throughout the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico. For more information and to find MLB Network in your area, go to www.MLBNetwork.com.