PressBox spoke with fans who attended Cal Ripken Jr.’s record-breaking 2,131st consecutive game played on Sept. 6, 1995. Here’s what they had to say about that night 25 years ago.
Amy Mudd Ciarlo, 49, of Timonium
I know that I was beyond excited to have the opportunity to go to the game. Once I got even close to Camden Yards, I could feel the energy. The energy surrounding the parking lots and walking over to the stadium, it was unreal. The excitement just grew as the game went on. There was so much camaraderie at Camden Yards that night.
I know that once … it flipped over from 2,130 to 2,131, it was one of the moments where it took your breath away. At least for me, I could feel how special that moment was, and it was the kind of experience in baseball that I don’t see happening again in my lifetime. I know that after Cal hit that home run, when he did the lap, that just seemed like it was magical. He seemed to take his time. He rushed off when they pushed him out of the dugout, but it just seemed like there was a moment for him where it switched from him making a quick lap around the warning track to really taking it in and enjoying it.
Ann Evans, 66, of Baltimore
It was a great day. Everybody around us in the bleachers was having a good time and interacting with everybody. And of course we got the full benefit of all the confetti that fell because it fell on us. I think somewhere there’s still a little package of it tucked away in a corner to keep the memories alive. I’m the one who stood in line to get the tickets [in the spring for my family]. That was before cell phones [were common].
I went early and I had a midday commitment to be the library aide at St. Agnes School. I didn’t get through the line in time to get to my library duties. And so Sister Theresa was a little bit out of shape when I got there to put the books away, but most of the kids had already gone by then. … It was a warm day and there were long lines to get the tickets and they moved slowly and I had some Catholic girl guilt, but I still had to do it.
Jon Guidera, 59, of Timonium
I worked for an agency — it was W.B. Doner at the time — downtown. And I was sitting there going, “We’re right on the [left field wall]. Shouldn’t we put up a 2,130 and then have a 2,131 to switch it around?” I just didn’t have the sign. I had the ability to make them, but it was really busy that day and that week at work. I had all these clients. It was something I couldn’t ask one of my juniors to do. You can’t ask them to do that for you and then all the sudden go to the game, so I had to do it myself. I printed out these things on one of our big printers or copiers. I had to mount them and stuff.
But I was almost late for the game … [because of] what I wanted to do, which was to possibly get something that would commemorate [Ripken] and get noticed, so I made these big things up. But I literally was almost late for the game. We were right on Pratt Street. I’m running to meet my wife halfway there at a parking lot to get to the game, and my brother and my dad were already in the seats. I’m just so glad that I took those extra 20, 30 minutes to be there late because it ended up being in Cal’s book, “Cal on Cal,” this photograph [of us].
James D. Jones, 56, of Westminster
I was a beer vendor. As I do now with my music, I was known as “Jimmy the Man.” So Jimmy the Man had some fans. They would always say, “Hey Jimmy, you’re the man. Hey Jimmy, you’re the man.” So I came up with Jimmy the Man. So 2,131, it was building up that week. I was bringing my camera every day and snapping pictures. It was really cool. It was really electric that night. And I remember coming down behind the Orioles dugout. I was a beer vendor, so I actually sat two cases of beer with a guy that I knew and I said, “Watch this for me, will ya?” I whipped my camera out and started taking some great shots and got some really good ones of Cal. I believe I got one of him hitting the home run he hit. That was really cool.
I remember all the guys were really excited about the day. There were certainly a few celebrities there. It was a great night. I remember when he was running around the stadium. I was just a little bit to the right of home plate behind home plate. With the help of the usher, I jumped on [a] rail and I was taking the pictures from there. Fortunately, I didn’t break my neck. I took a bunch of pictures. I got some really good ones. I actually sold quite a few. I sat outside the park after each game the rest of the season and sold a bunch of them.
Justin LaBor, 36, of Elwood, N.J.
The home run was great, but it was really watching Cal take in that moment when it was official. When the banner changed, he took in that moment. Being such a fan of him — and a fan of the team, of course — but being such a fan of him and his work ethic has always been an inspiration to me. I truly believe it when he would say, “I’m just doing my job.” That’s how he looked at it, and I believe those words to my heart, that he didn’t consider himself bigger than the game. He just looked at it as this is what he was called to do and he’s going to do it until he can’t.
When he went out there and the celebration kept going and going and going, you could see that look on his face that he wanted to keep playing. He didn’t want that celebration to be about him, but then to watch him run around the field — he went across the entire stadium — that’s just something I will never forget because it allowed us to take a moment and celebrate everything he’s meant to us. I’m glad that he gave that to us, I really am.
Bromley Lowe, 49, of Columbia
I was the Oriole Bird during that night. I was actually rather new. It was my second year performing. The atmosphere was electric. … It was all feel-good, and it was all like we were going to witness a once-in-a-lifetime event right here. They had postgame ceremonies which they asked me to do — the only time as the Oriole Bird they actually stuck a walkie-talkie in my head. And the entertainment productions director — his name was Spiro Alafassos — would contact me.
My job would be to go and greet all the major celebrities as they were walking on the field. When the director gave me the signal over the walkie-talkie in my head, I was to actually escort Cal to his Corvette, which looped him around the warning track. The most surreal part of the whole experience was just to see — I was there right around second base, and if you just kind of looked around, everybody was on their feet and they were all totally focused. It was not like a crowd of people that were cheering. They were all in absolute focus of what was happening. That was the most amazing impression that I had.
Michael Manning, 72, of Florida
I went with [a friend]. Unbeknownst to us, they took a picture of us when Cal Ripken was running around the outfield. I was leaning over and he was slapping my hand. That picture ended up on the cover of The Sporting News’ “Baseball’s 25 Greatest Moments.” And then there’s a two-page picture on the inside of us slapping his hand.
… We went to the game [in Cleveland the next night] in case he didn’t break the record in Baltimore. What was so funny was he comes up to bat in the first inning and they give him a standing ovation, like two or three minutes. And then in the bottom of the inning, I think Cleveland got a couple guys on, and Omar Vizquel hit a line shot up the middle. Cal was still playing shortstop, he dove and caught it, and they booed the crap out of him. That was pretty funny.
Billy Painter, 52, of Hampstead
When Cal hit the home run, I happened to be out in left field near where he hit the home run. I think it was like section 80. They had the handicap-accessible seating. There was a fold-down chair. So I pulled that out — no one was sitting there — and sat next to a gentleman in a wheelchair. We talked briefly, then Cal hit the home run. Everyone stood up. I even stood up. Instinctively, we’re all screaming and cheering, and I looked over to the guy next to me and he’s in his wheelchair. He can’t see anything, so I immediately sat down because I wanted to let him know I wasn’t being selfish.
It was the first time I’ve ever been to an Oriole game where I wanted the fans to sit after an Oriole hit a home run. I was like, “Man, sit down! This guy can’t see!” … It really hits you when you realize that not everyone can enjoy it like you can. Immediately, I had feelings. I felt sorry for the guy. It was a big lesson in helping me learn to think about other people’s thoughts and feelings.
Richard Webster, 53, of Salisbury
I was a huge Cal Ripken fan. My father, [C.T.], was a big Orioles fan, too. As he got closer to breaking the record, I learned what OBO meant. Because in The Baltimore Sun, you’d see tickets for sale and it would say, “OBO,” which is “or best offer.” It was getting really crazy in regards to the cost of tickets. My father was like, “Don’t worry, I’ll get you in there, and I’m thinking, “OK.” He worked at DuPont [in Seaford, Del.].
So he said, “Drive up the day of the game, leave me at work, I’ll take a half-day off, we’ll go up to the ballpark and I’ll get you in there, just bring some money.” He said, “How much money do you have?” I had about, I figure, $300. So we went up there. He came outside of the plant — it was Seaford Nylon Plant in Seaford — with this broomstick which was cut off — a chopped broomstick — and on top was an oval cardboard thing. And on one side it said “NEED ONE.” And on the other side in orange it said “CAN’T AFFORD TWO.”
So we went up there. We walked around that ballpark. I went one place, he went another. And finally, I come back and he says, “OK, give me $285. I bought you a ticket.” And then I said, “Well, what do you want to do?” He goes, “Well, I’m going to try to get a ticket and if I can’t, I’ll just go across the street to Pickles Pub and I’ll meet you at the end of the game.” He walked around that ballpark for another hour or so, and about 30 minutes before game time a guy walked up to him and said, “I’ve got a ticket for you.”
And my father said, “OK, how much?” The guy goes, “It’s free.” And my dad goes, “What do you mean it’s free?” He goes, “Well, we’ve been watching you up there in the club level walk around for like an hour. We figured we’ve got to get you into this game.” So I spent almost $300 for my seat. I’m in section 372, row MM. He sits in the center field bleachers, section 98, aisle seat with this corporate group that decided to get him in there. They bought him food, beverages the entire night.
Where I’m sitting up in the upper deck, I’m sitting with a guy who flew in from St. Louis. He watches Ripken break the record. He leaves and then all the sudden about 30 minutes later I see my father walking up the stairs. I had no idea he had gotten into the ballpark. So we watched the rest of the game afterward. It was a magical night not only because you saw baseball history but I got to see it with my dad. He reinforced that theory that if you try hard enough you can pretty much do anything. And I asked him, I said, “Where’s your sign?” And he goes, “Well, they wouldn’t let me bring it into the ballpark so I checked it.”
So at the end of the game when we go back downstairs to the part where they check all the stuff in, here is all this highly expensive camera equipment — Sony and Nikon lenses — and a broomstick with a piece of cardboard on top of it with a little claim check tied around it. It was awesome. As we walked out of the game that night to go home, people were saying, “Oh great, that’s awesome. The sign man got in!” I said, “No one’s going to believe this.” And luck would have it, in the next day’s Baltimore Sun there’s an article about how people are paying all kinds of money for tickets and it said, “And one man had one sign. On one side it said, ‘Need one,’ and on the other side it said, ‘Can’t afford two.'”
Sam Angell, 35, of Silver Spring
The one thing that I remember was how excited my parents were at the national anthem. Bruce Hornsby and Branford Marsalis played the national anthem. I didn’t know who either one of them were. It didn’t really register with me how good they were, how in-tune they were until they got to the part where everybody yells, “O!” Here were these two guys who I had never heard of before who knew to pause and let the crowd scream.
I just thought that was the coolest thing in the world. Obviously since then I’ve gotten to know who these guys are in terms of being famous musicians and how much of an honor it was to hear them. I’ve obviously heard that national anthem again on the replays and what a great rendition it was. That was a really cool moment.
Tom Blair, 57, of Towson
I was working at Towson Catholic High School and we had a little concession [on the lower level]. As it was coming up on the streak, guys signed up for both nights so I was there for the tying night and also for 2,131. It was nice because my cousin had season tickets — my wife’s cousin. We got married the previous June. Their cousins, we used to go to the games all the time. I just couldn’t get a ticket out of them for either one of those two games.
… It was just really nice. It was nice seeing the energy in the stadium. It was nice seeing fans interested in the game. What we had done is we’d go send somebody out to see when we were getting close to the ceremony and everything. It was nice, we got out there and got to see that. Got to see the tying 0 go down the night before that, got to see the 2,131 come down, got to see him parade around the field. It was just a really nice time, nice to see all the energy.
Scott Bourland, 58, of Columbia
I started there in ’94 as a tour guide in April. They had no games [starting in August], so they needed to do tours, so they had like six of us. And then after a year of doing that I went to the ticket office. Basically, [Peter] Angelos got so tired of [hearing] every time Bret Barberie came to bat that he was a member of the  Olympic team that they said they wanted someone to do jumbotron notes. That was the season that they knew Cal would break the streak.
So I basically did the jumbotron and came up with about 600 notes on the team, about 100 on Cal himself. Basically, I would do the jumbotron during the games. The first at-bat, they would put the picture of the player up, and then the second at-bat of all the players they would put some stat or something underneath him, which I was in charge of.
… [On 2,131], basically it was a lot of Ironman stuff that we did for that specific game. … I was behind home plate. Basically, they had the press box on the first level and then the second level right above the press box was the scoreboard control room. And then right next to us was the TV booths.
Bill Crystal, 59, of Ellicott City
The big thrill that night was walking right up next to Joe DiMaggio, who spoke that night and was on the concourse level along with a lot of other celebrities. I’m pretty sure we saw a glimpse of Bill Clinton, who was in attendance that night. It was just an amazing night, a night of chills. We were sitting in the club level.
… [DiMaggio] had a crowd around him. I’m pretty sure he was in his 80s then. He was pretty old. But he seemed thrilled to be there. He seemed genuinely into the evening, shaking hands with people around him. And then of course you had a circle of people just standing around him and a group of people just in awe of Joe DiMaggio. So that was really, really, I thought, a real special thing to have somebody that played with Lou Gehrig there that evening as Cal broke the record.
Eric G. Dorsey, 42, of Westminster
My family at the time had season tickets. We had a full season-ticket plan when they moved to Oriole Park. My father and I went to 2,130, and then my mother and I went to 2,131. And obviously at that time, I think the Ravens were still a month away from being announced [that they were] coming to Baltimore from Cleveland.
We used to park by what’s now Ravens stadium. There’s a Staples over there. We used to be able to park on side streets with no charge. We weren’t back in school yet. My dad might’ve taken my mom to the metro station on his way to work. She worked at social security downtown. So I was going to meet her downtown for 2,131, then drive home.
I remember parking by the lot. If you can imagine going across Ravens stadium to Oriole Park — and I was there by 4:30 because I think we went to Lexington Market to eat — and what I really remember is all the media. We’re three hours before the game. I don’t remember the 1983 World Series — I wasn’t into baseball then, I was only 5 years old — and to me, [2,131] was always what a World Series seems like, never having been to one. That’s my guess on what it’s like — just all the media, the hype three hours before a baseball game.
Mike Flannery, 62, of Baltimore
I was a sports agent back in those days with Lenny Elmore. We were actually headquartered in Columbia. The way we got tickets is kind of funny. We represented Joe Smith from Maryland, and Joe got tickets for the night. Well, Joe couldn’t go, so he calls us at the last minute and says, “Hey, do you want to go?”
The tickets were amazing. We sat right next to David Robinson, which was kind of cool. Obviously there were a lot of celebrities. We brought Joe to meet Cal [earlier in the season]. Joe threw out the first pitch, one of those deals, one day, so we brought Joe down to meet Cal. I guess the way they rewarded him was they gave him some tickets to this big thing.
The night was terrific. It was great. He jogged around the warning track, kind of slapping everybody’s hand and all that. It was kind of like a victory lap he was taking through all the years. That was touching. It was just cool. That was the point where everybody knew it was kind of something special. It was special regardless. It was genuine. It wasn’t staged. When I say it was genuine, him stopping and talking to people real quickly in what it was that he was going through, taking time, that wasn’t staged. You could see that was genuine. I would tell you that that was probably the pinnacle of it.
Jim Kushel, 69, of Bluffton, S.C.
I was at 2,130. My seats were in the second row [behind] that 364 sign in left field. For 2,130, I sat and watched the game and was basically looking over Ripken’s shoulder for the whole game. I took a good buddy of mine. Ripken hit a home run that day. … I’m the guy in the green polo shirt. I could actually see the stitches on the ball coming down to catch that home run. The guy I took to the game is the heavy-set guy in the white T-shirt and the red hair that bangs into me. It goes off his hand and goes three rows back. So I did not get that ball.
… I started [2,131] out sitting in my seats. I took my son, who at that time I think was maybe 10. The young lady I was dating had seats. She was friends with Tom Davis, who had gotten her seats up in the upper deck out in right field. Whether it was true or not, she calls me on the cell phone. Her acrophobia was bothering her. She couldn’t go to the seats. She was frozen.
So either being a nice guy or a jerk, I swapped seats with her, so my son and I watched it in the upper deck and she sat down below, got to shake Ripken’s hand after the game. I couldn’t get back to the seats in time. But I took pictures. I was taking a lot of pictures that day. [Ripken] hit another home run. I took pictures of him actually making contact with the ball, and I’ve got that somewhere, and him rounding the bases and all of that, using a telephoto lens. It was a great experience, watching history in the making.
Allan Sakowski, 59, of Cub Hill
I didn’t have a ticket [leading up to the game], but a coworker of mine sold me his ticket for $50, and I think that may have been the best $50 ever spent. I was in right field, the bleachers, section 98. So I went and got to the stadium. The day went by so slowly over anticipation of the event, but you could look out the window of where I was working into the parking lot of the warehouse and there were mobs of people everywhere.
… In the fifth inning, I went up to the flag court and watched the numbers flip to 2,131, and when that happened, the roar was unbelievable. I caught a bunch of confetti. I was standing right in front of the ESPN camera. I was looking up at the numbers. I believe I got a shot of myself on camera for the first time, I think. I picked up a bunch of confetti.
Of course, he takes his lap around. We were running back to our seats because we were in right field about six rows, seven rows back from the field. We were obviously a little too far away for hand slap or anything like that. We were too high up. That was the most surreal thing I think I’ve ever seen in a ballpark, sports or otherwise, watching him take that lap, and the music, and the tears, and I guess the pride everybody had that this was happening to our hometown.
William Shaw, 55, of Abingdon
It was magical. It was amazing. I remember I had really good seats. I was seated a few rows [away] and just off to the side of Kelly, his wife at the time. When he would come on the on-deck circle he was always looking at her. I could see that. Of course, when the game became official and they let the numbers down and the music started playing and he came out, he walked over to her.
It was a crazy night. There’s been a few instances in my life where when you’re there and you see it happening, you know that it’s a part of history. It’s not this thing where you find out later how important of a deal that was. You know when it’s going on the importance and the gravity of it. Definitely didn’t take it for granted that I got to be there. It was amazing.
… I remember the chords, the beginning of that [music when the game became official]. I have a VHS tape of that night that I probably have still watched five or six times since then. When I hear the beginning notes of that music that they played, I still well up with tears inside when I hear that. That’s one of the things that definitely stuck with me. He just took the time to touch so many people’s hands. Even the other team, they didn’t mind the game being delayed like that. They were out of the dugout and they were standing up and cheering, too. I think they were happy to be a part of it as well. It was just way cool.
Chrissy Palmisano Urian, 51, of Spotsylvania, Va.
I was able to go to 2,130 and sat out under the scoreboard. It was one of the first times I actually sat in the sort of bleacher section. It was a different perspective, for sure. Cal hit a home run that night. It was almost surreal.
… The next night I went downtown with a girlfriend. We couldn’t get tickets, so we figured we’d walk around, try to pick up some tickets outside. Didn’t care if we were sitting together — we just wanted to get in. We both walked around. Both of us found singles from scalpers outside. Both of us walked up to the gate. Neither of the tickets worked, which was a real bummer.
So we just sat there. We waited out behind the bullpen picnic area and just watched through the fence. It was amazing when they started dropping those numbers and playing music how many people literally started climbing that fence. We didn’t for fear of getting caught or whatever. We were really glad we were there.
… From our perspective [outside of the park], we really couldn’t see all the way into the field. You could see glimpses. We were so far away from the dugouts that we couldn’t really see a whole lot of what was going on. So for us it was more that environment and the noise and the sound. We used to laugh about the roar you would hear from the stadium during big moments, and there was nothing like that moment [after the game became official] that I had ever experienced.
Photo Credits: Courtesy of the Baltimore Orioles, James D. Jones and Richard Webster
Originally published July 8, 2020. Some of these memories also appeared in PressBox’s July 2020 print edition.