Skip to content
'83 crown wasn't only feather in Ripken cap
The second of a series recounting Cal Ripken's 20 major-league seasons.
The curtain to the 1983 season lowered on the careers of three future Hall of Famers: catcher Johnny Bench, pitcher Gaylord Perry and outfielder Carl Yastrzemski. It opened wide for Cal Ripken, revealing a player who made history long before Lou Gehrig's name became so closely joined with his.
Ripken emerged as the first player to win the American League's Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player awards in consecutive seasons. Also the first Oriole to play every inning of every game, he batted .318 with 47 doubles, 27 homers and 102 RBIs.
He set team records with 211 hits and 47 doubles, but nothing was more gratifying than catching a line drive from Philadelphia's Garry Maddox to end the World Series and secure the only championship of his career.
Was there a more appropriate way for Ripken to conclude a magical season?
He already had helped the AL post its first victory in the All-Star Game since 1971 - playing the last four innings in his first election to the midsummer classic. He already had driven in the Orioles' only run off Chicago's LaMarr Hoyt in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series.
He already had led major-league shortstops in assists (534), and league shortstops in total chances (831) and double plays (113). And placed second to Boston's Jim Rice with 343 total bases, one short of the lead.
And been named the league's Player of the Month in September after batting .393 with six homers and 19 RBIs in 31 games.
"He was so well-schooled," said former outfielder Ken Singleton, "and he wasn't going to make the same rookie mistakes."
Ripken also wasn't going to complain about sharing the team MVP award with Eddie Murray, who placed second in league voting for the second consecutive season after batting .306 with 33 homers and 111 RBIs.
Perhaps a better relationship with the media would have pushed Murray ahead of Ripken, who reached base in 143 of 162 games and didn't go more than two consecutive games without a hit.
Murray missed seven games that season "and we went 0-7," said Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer. Ripken, meanwhile, didn't miss an inning. Manager Joe Altobelli tried to remove him late in several games, with the outcome no longer in doubt, but was talked out of it on each occasion.
It wasn't until 1987, with his father managing the club, that Ripken finally left a game before its conclusion.