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Spring Classic
Tom Verducci
June 23, 1997
The Orioles outdueled the Braves in a possible sneak preview of this year's World Series
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June 23, 1997

Spring Classic

The Orioles outdueled the Braves in a possible sneak preview of this year's World Series

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Said Key, "I still don't think it's worth it because of the schedule problem."

Ripken arrived in Atlanta with the Orioles at four in the morning Friday after playing in Boston. That night he knocked in a run with a single in three at bats against Maddux and then worked out in the Turner Field weight room for 45 minutes, until 1 a.m. He came back nine hours later to play for almost five hours in the moist, 84° heat, reaching base three times in six plate appearances, after which he signed copies of his autobiography for nearly four hours, until just after 11 p.m. He went 1 for 5 and scored the winning run on Sunday before flying home to play another first-time opponent, the Montreal Expos. Although he turns 37 in August, Ripken isn't exactly slowing down.

Even the youthful Chipper Jones has sat out two games this season. Otherwise, he is nearly a statistical twin of Ripken, one of his heroes, who played in a World Series when Jones was 11 years old. Compared with Ripken at the same point in his career, Jones (who had played 370 games through Sunday) had the same batting average (.290) and nearly the same number of hits (396 to 405) and home runs (61 to 63). As their third-base summit proved, Jones enjoyed Ripken's trip to Atlanta as much as any fan. Interleague play has made possible such unprecedented meetings, not to mention the Ripken autographs Jones collected on two Orioles jerseys he brought from home.

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