By Scott M. Johnson
SEATTLE — Ol’ Blue Eyes didn’t tear up, and neither did his partner in time.
On the eve of the final All-Star Game of their illustrious careers, Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony Gwynn felt no sadness.
"I don’t see it as a sad moment," Ripken said. "I see it as a celebration. A celebration of baseball."
The fact that Ripken and Gwynn are enjoying their final All-Star Game together is apropos. They debuted one year apart — Ripken in 1983, Gwynn in ‘84 — and have played in a combined 30 Midsummer Classics. Both will retire after this season.
Ripken will play in one more All-Star Game tonight, while Gwynn is attending as a special guest of Major League Baseball and won’t participate.
During Monday’s festivities, commissioner Bud Selig held a press conference with both departing stars, complete with a short video. Afterward, they were all smiles while remembering a pair of historical major league careers.
"As much as we all want to leave our mark on the game, Cal’s the one who did it every day," Gwynn said, referring to Ripken’s 2,632-consecutive game streak. "People are going to remember him for the streak, but he’s done so much more than that."
When remembering their favorite All-Star moments, both players inadvertently mentioned a play that involved the other. Ripken talked of a home run he hit in the 1992 All-Star Game.
"That home run went over my head," Gwynn said.
Gwynn’s memory was when he scored the winning run in the 1994 All-Star Game.
"That was my throw," Ripken said, "and I swear you were out."
After today, there will never be another All-Star Game with Cal Ripken Jr. or Tony Gwynn, whom Selig called "two of the greatest players of this generation."
"I don’t want to be sad my career’s coming to an end because I’ve had a great time," Gwynn said. "I’ve done what I’ve wanted to do, when I’ve wanted to do it."