I was born in 1982 and my love of baseball really started to take shape in the late '80s as I was playing tee-ball and later little league. At that time, I honestly felt like I would make it to the Major Leagues. That obviously never happened, not even close, and I had actually stopped playing by the age of 13 or so, but my love of baseball remains to this day. It's my #1 favorite sport by far; I spend a good part of every day thinking, breathing and day-dreaming about baseball. And if you asked me which one player pops into my head at any given time, it would be Cal.
Now I know that most '92 Fleer cards wouldn't be your first choice to get signed, but I love that this card has the date that the streak started and 2130 on it. Outside of any possible Orioles' World Series Championships in the coming years, I don't think anything can rival "The Streak" and 2131 in my baseball memory hierarchy. Seeing video clips of that game gets to me even to this day. The lead up to 2131 was so amazing. Could Cal stay healthy? Would it benefit the team if he took a day off now and then? How would he handle the pressure?
Well, the "Iron Man" obviously passed Lou Gehrig's record of 2130 consecutive games played and extended the record to 2632 straight games played. My dad took me to a bunch of games in the lead up to 2130 & 2131 and we watched the numbers change of the warehouse count up towards those magical numbers. He tried to find tickets to those two games but the cost was astronomical, I think in the thousands. It just wasn't gonna happen, but I appreciate that he tried so hard. Honestly, it was pretty awesome to see it on TV. I didn't know her back then, but my fiance, Kalina, was lucky enough to have some family friends that took her to 2131. She was standing in line for her "I Was There" t-shirt when Cal homered. Cool stuff, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little jealous, but I am glad that one of us got to be there for it. I was lucky enough to have been at the final game of Cal's career on October 6, 2001.
Most of you know that Cal was the 1982 AL ROY, won the AL MVP in 1983 & '91, caught the final out in the O's '83 World Series victory, made 19 All-Star teams, won 2 Gold Gloves, 8 Silver Sluggers, was the All-Star Game MVP in 1991 & 2001, and won the '91 Home Run Derby. He has won countless other awards and honors over his illustrious career, too many to list.
Cal's #8 was retired by the O's in 2001 and he was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2007, his first year of eligibility. Thanks for everything Cal!
I have to plug my HOF week contest. Some of you have been earning a bunch of bonus entries. I won't comment on how you can earn them, but there are some clues in previous posts.