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The other man standing alongside Tony Gwynn at the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in 2007 was the man who played in 2,632 consecutive games—Cal Ripken Jr.
Ripken may have single-handedly saved baseball in 1995.
Noted baseball columnist Hal Bodley, who has covered the sport since 1958, wrote this about Ripken back in 2006:
The game was flickering when the Baltimore Orioles shortstop broke Lou Gehrig's record of 2,130 consecutive games played.
None of us at Camden Yards that night realized how important the new Ironman's feat would be. Fans were suffering from the hangover of the 1994-95 strike, many vowing never to take another sip of our national pastime, when 2,131 was unfurled on the warehouse wall beyond right field.
And then Ripken made his historic lap around the field, and baseball's unexpected recovery was born. Ripken had done much more than break Gehrig's record. He became an instant role model for every working stiff in our land. He played in another 501 consecutive games before taking a breather on Sept. 20, 1998. He retired after the 2001 season.
Along the way, Ripken won two American League MVP awards and earned 19 All-Star selections. His 3,184 hits rank 15th all-time, and his 603 total doubles are good for 13th on the all-time list.
Ripken was selected with 98.5 percent, collecting 537 out of 545 possible votes.
What the other eight voters were thinking will forever be debated.
Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.