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The Cal Collection

The Pride of Aberdeen Maryland is, as they say, number eight in your program but number one in the hearts of Oriole fans.  Cal Ripken, Jr. played more consecutive games than anyone else, and holds countless team records as well.  One record that I suspect will never be broken is the number of autographs he's signed!

Join us now for BASEBALLPARKS.COM's look at Baltimore's Iron Man.

And speaking of Cal and records ... the date was August 21, 1998.  Cal is at first base after getting his 2,849th career hit, which breaks Brooks Robinson's all-time team record.  48,374 fans are thundering their appreciation of Baltimore's Iron Man.  Righthander Jaret Wright of the Indians was the pitcher.

A familiar pre-game sight at Camden Yards:  Cal signing autographs next to the Orioles' dugout.  Long before the gates open for any given home game, the fans form a long line to be able to race to this spot at the far end of the first-base dugout.  By the way, above the out-of-town scoreboard in right field is the area known as the "flag court," and behind that is the warehouse.

Not only did I get to witness Cal's team-record-breaking hit (see section above), I also saw his much-anticipated 400th career home run on September 2, 1999.  And I was lucky enough to snap a photo just as he hit that historic blast (above).  Below, the Camden Yards scoreboard saluted the achievement while the Jumbotron showed a replay of Cal's follow through.

After witnessing Cal play in excess of 175 games, I saw him one last time on August 31, 2001.  He was making his "farewell tour" -- with his retirement only a month away -- in this game at Camden Yards.  On this swing, he hit a single, to the absolute delight of the fans on hand.