ALL-STAR NOTEBOOK \ From San Francisco
Iron Man: Not that it was close to being threatened, but Cal Ripken’s consecutive games streak is as safe as ever following Miguel Tejada’s injury last month. Tejada’s streak of 1,152 consecutive games was snapped last month when he broke his left wrist after being hit by a pitch from San Diego’s Doug Brocail. Tejada was a long ways off from Ripken’s mark of 2,632 games, a reminder of how difficult a record that is to break. “Tejada was breathing down my neck for a minute, so I had him taken care of,” Ripken joked Tuesday at a news conference before the All-Star game to talk about his upcoming Hall of Fame induction. Ripken, who will go into the Hall later this month along with Tony Gwynn, said the record is more amazing to him in retrospect than it was during the streak. “If I was able to do it, certainly somebody else can do it,” Ripken said. “I wasn’t Superman by any means, and it takes a special set of circumstances, a little bit of stubbornness and a lot of luck, and it can be done.” Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter is not sure it’s as easy as Ripken makes it out to be. Right now, Juan Pierre of the Los Angeles Dodgers is the closest player to the mark with 361 consecutive games played. “I don’t think that can be broken,” Jeter said. “It’s hard enough to play for a week, man, let alone for 14 years or however many years he played.”
Bye-bye Bruce: Baseball honored another of its iron men before the game by acknowledging umpire Bruce Froemming, who will retire after completing his 37th year in the majors.
At a news conference to formally announce the retirement, Froemming acknowledged that it’s rare for an umpire to be the center of attention when it’s not about a controversial call. Froemming was behind the plate for the All-Star game.
“Usually they’re ready to kill me when I’m up here,” he said.
Froemming began umpiring at age 18 when he went directly from high school to the long-gone Nebraska State League. He became a big league ump in 1971 — Expos-Mets at Shea Stadium was his first game, and it was cut short by snow after five innings. Froemming has worked five World Series, 10 league championship series and a record eight division series. He also did the All-Star game in 1975 and 1986. Froemming has called 5,095 regular-season games in his career. Bill Klem holds the record with 5,368, working from 1905-40. “I say I’ve had a great run,” Froemming said. “You’ve got to step away sometime and I thought the timing was right and MLB has gone the extra step to make it an easy transition and whatever I do in the future, probably would be with MLB to help out in some capacity.”
Hat trick: Giants longtime equipment manager Mike Murphy is one of the few people to witness all three All-Star games in San Francisco. Murphy, who began his tenure with the Giants in 1958 as bat boy in the team’s first season in San Francisco, was also on hand when the city hosted the games in 1961 and 1984. “They’re all different but they’re all exciting,” he said. “The biggest difference was yesterday. We didn’t have the home run contest back then. So that was much more entertaining than the usual Monday.”
Kickoff: With his Reds mired in last place in the NL Central, Ken Griffey Jr. is already sensing a change in focus among people in Cincinnati. “You know what they say. The best thing about the All-Star game is that football is around the corner,” Griffey said. “It’s been that way the last couple of years now. We have a guy racing a horse now.” That’s how much Bengals-mania has grown as the team that used to be a laughingstock in the NFL is now a serious contender. Last month, there was much hype around receiver Chad Johnson’s race with a horse named Restore the Roar. Johnson was spotted a 100-meter lead — roughly about half the distance the horse had to cover — and won the race for charity.
Winning bid: Fans bid on some historical memorabilia at baseball’s fan fest, with one collector paying $322,000 for a Babe Ruth autographed bat from the 1923 World Series.
Other items sold by Hunt Auctions, Inc., included original lineup cards from the inaugural All-Star game in 1933 that went for $138,000, a Ty Cobb game-used bat for $69,000, a Ted Williams 1955 road jersey for $51,750 and a Lou Gehrig signed baseball for $51,750.