The JON Properties/Van Zandt Restorations Lecture
Since major league baseball began in 1876, more than 19,000 players have suited up. But only two have played in more than 2,000 consecutive games: Lou Gehrig, the great, ill-fated New York Yankees slugger from the 1920s and 1930s, and Cal Ripken Jr., the Baltimore Orioles shortstop who holds the record, having played in 2,632 straight games in the 1980s and 1990s.
The consecutive-game streaks of Ripken and Gehrig are deemed among baseball’s greatest feats along with Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak, Cy Young’s 511 pitching career wins and a few others. Yet it’s also an achievement some in the game grumble about, wondering whether playing every day helps a team win, and also, whether a player is selfish for seeking individual glory.
John Eisenberg will explore the backgrounds of Gehrig and Ripken -- immigrant tales, both – to understand what led them to tackle such an unusual challenge. So why did they do it? Gehrig wanted to escape Ruth’s shadow and establish his own legacy. Ripken insists he didn’t care about the record, just about being there for his teammates every day. Yet that record, Eisenberg contends, almost surely will stand for as long as baseball is played.
Speaker: John Eisenberg
John Eisenberg is one of the country’s most acclaimed sportswriters. A native of Dallas, Texas and graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, he started out covering the “Friday Night Lights” for the now-defunct Dallas Times Herald in 1979. After rising through the ranks to cover pro basketball, he joined the staff of the Baltimore Sun in 1984. For the next 23 years he wrote columns in the Sun about the hometown Orioles, Ravens and Maryland Terrapins, and also covered major events such as the World Series, Super Bowl, and Olympics. His honors included several firsts in the prestigious Associated Press Sports Editors’ contest. Since 2012 he has written columns on the Ravens’ website.
John has also authored 10 bestselling sports books, including The Streak: Lou Gehrig, Cal Ripken, Jr. and Baseball’s Most Historic Record. Published in 2017, it was a finalist for the Casey Award, which honors the year’s best baseball book, and was shortlisted for the PEN/ESPN Literary Sportswriting Award, which honors the year’s best sports book. John’s most recent title is The League: How Five Rivals Created the NFL and Launched a Sports Empire. John has also written for Sports Illustrated and Smithsonian Magazine.