Record breaking week for major league baseball

By Cheryl Wagstaff
October 18, 2001

Last week was history in the making for Major League Baseball. It bid farewell to two of its legends, had one player reach the 3,000 hit mark and had another set a new homerun record.

On Saturday, Oct. 6th, baseball’s Iron Man, Cal Ripken Jr., played in his last game. He became baseball’s Iron Man in 199,5 and he set the new record for consecutive games played at 2,632 on Sept. 20 1998, surpassing Lou Gehrig.

That was not his only milestone. He also hit over 400 homeruns, became a member of the 3,000 hit club, was a gold glove shortstop and made 18 consecutive all-star appearances.

Not only was Ripken a star player, but he was also a class act. He never declined an autograph. In fact he would stand for hours signing them. He was a consummate professional when baseball needed him the most after the 1994 strike,, and he stayed with the Baltimore Orioles for his entire 20 year career.

The next day baseball bid farewell to another one of its greats, Tony Gwynn. He, like Ripken, played his entire career for one team. Gwynn played for the San Diego Padres for 20 seasons. In those 20 seasons of work, Gwynn managed to get 3,140 hits and maintain a batting average of .338.

Another Padre was in the spotlight on Sunday. It was Ricky Henderson. He found himself with 2,999 hits after Saturday’s game. He did not want to steal the spotlight during Guynn’s last game so he decided not to play. However, Gwynn wanted him to. It was perhaps his last chance to hit the milestone number that only 24 other people have hit. There are rumors of him retiring after this season.

Henderson did play on Sunday, and he did get his 3,000th hit. This was not the only milestone that Henderson reached this season. Earlier in the season he broke Babe Ruth’s career record for most walk, and, on Thursday Ty Cobb’s career runs record with a homer for Number 2,246.

Perhaps the most exciting story that has come out of the 2001 MLB season is Barry Bonds breaking Mark McGwire’s home run record. McGwire surpassed Roger Maris’ record in 1998 with 70 homeruns. This year Bonds surpassed both of them with 73.

After Bonds’ performance this year, he could be looking toward his record fourth MVP award. His 177 walks this season broke Ruth’s other walk record, which was set in 1923.

Bonds’ slugging percentage is .860, which is by far the best in baseball history. Ruth’s record of .847 was set in 1920.

And Bonds’ on-base percentage on .515 would be the best in the majors since 1957.

“What he’s done is absolutely phenomenal,” McGwire said. “It’s in the stratosphere. It’s almost like he’s playing T-ball.” McGwire is considering retirement after this year.

After the strike in 1994 the American fans of baseball still needed a season like this to bring them back to the game. What more could a fan ask for; nearly all-offensive records were broken this year.

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Cheryl Wagstaff

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