DiSarcina recalls seeing Ripken's historic day

DiSarcina recalls seeing Ripken's historic day

MINNEAPOLIS -- Saturday marked the 19th anniversary of Cal Ripken Jr. famously breaking the record for consecutive games played, and Angels third-base coach Gary DiSarcina couldn't believe it.

DiSarcina was the Angels' everyday shortstop that year. And though he was on the disabled list when his team visited Oriole Park at Camden Yards on Sept. 6, 1995, DiSarcina was present for a moment that went down as one of his greatest career highlights.

"We all became a fan of Cal that day," DiSarcina said, "because what he did was bigger than the game."

Ripken homered off former Angels starter Shawn Boskie in the fourth inning that night, then did a victory lap around the ballpark in the middle of the fifth inning, when the game became official and the sign on the B&O Warehouse beyond the right-field fence changed to 2,131, officially surpassing Lou Gehrig's 56-year-old record for games played.

DiSarcina has some infield dirt from that game displayed in a shadow box at his home office, along with the commemorative baseball that was distributed. He remembers the first time he ever met Ripken, while sliding into second to break up a double play. Ripken looked down at him and said, "Are you all right?"

"That was the first time I realized how big he was," DiSarcina said. "I didn't even move him."

DiSarcina's only trip to the All-Star Game came during that 1995 season, when he was selected as Ripken's backup shortstop in the American League. DiSarcina approached Ripken while they were shagging in the outfield during pregame batting practice and asked him a simple question: "Cal, how do you do it?"

"He just said, 'I mentally prepare myself every day to come to the ballpark and help my team win,'" DiSarcina recalled. "He just had that mindset.

"The bottom line is he wanted to win, and he felt that nobody was better than him out there on any given day. So if he was at 70 percent, he was better than everybody else."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.