By Roch Kubatko
September 19, 2001
Cal Ripken's 1990 season evolved into a glove story.
The Orioles finished nine games below .500 after making an improbable run toward the American League East title the previous summer. Once again, Ripken succeeded in taking the focus off their shortcomings.
In this instance, he did so by committing a record-low three errors in 681 chances over 161 games for an unprecedented .996 percentage. The majors never had seen such proficiency from a shortstop. But when it came time to award the American League Gold Glove, the Chicago White Sox's flashier Ozzie Guillen was the recipient.
Apparently, the league was more impressed by acrobatics than proper positioning and a strong, accurate arm.
"I'm embarrassed by my peers," Bobby Valentine, then the Texas Rangers' manager, said of the voting.
Ripken also set major-league records with 95 straight errorless games - Eddie Brinkman's 77 had been the benchmark - and 428 consecutive chances without a miscue. But it wasn't until 1991 and 1992 that he was presented with the Gold Glove. Better late than never.
His accomplishments in 1990 weren't restricted to defense. Ripken surpassed Vern Stephens to become the most prolific home run-hitting shortstop in AL history. He extended his own record for shortstops by hitting at least 20 homers in nine straight seasons.
Even though Ripken posted his lowest average (.250) for a full season, he led the Orioles in runs (78), hits (150), doubles (28), triples (four), homers (21), RBIs (84) and walks (82). And this time, he wouldn't share the Most Valuable Oriole award. His hands were the only ones to touch it.
His consecutive-games streak grew to more historic proportions. By playing in 1,308 straight, Ripken passed Everett Scott for second place on baseball's all-time list.
Family ties were just as strong as his will. On Sept. 15 at Toronto, Ripken and his double-play partner, Bill, became the first brother combination to hit homers in the same inning since Hank and Tommy Aaron in 1962.
Ripken also made his seventh consecutive start at shortstop in an All-Star Game, which established an AL record. Joe Cronin made seven starts at the position, but not in succession.
Year G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI Avg.
1990 161 600 78 150 28 4 21 84 .250
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