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Shelby sad to miss Ripken's induction

| Sunday, July 29, 2007

PHILADELPHIA -- Pirates coach John Shelby will take his usual position behind first base at the start of the game this afternoon against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Shelby's attention will be on the field, but his heart will be in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Cal Ripken Jr., baseball's "Iron Man" and one of Shelby's closest friends, will be inducted into Hall of Fame today. A record crowd of 60,000 is expected to attend the ceremony.

Ripken sent an invitation and even offered to pay all the travel and hotel expenses for Shelby and his wife. However, Shelby opted to stay on the job with the Pirates.

"It was a very, very tough decision," Shelby said. "I sent him a card (saying), 'I hate to miss it,' and I'm sure he understands."

Shelby said he would have gone if it would've meant missing only one game.

"But, knowing how tough it is to get to Cooperstown ... it's not like you can just go up, go the ceremony and then come back in a day," Shelby said.

Shelby and Ripken played together in rookie ball and worked their way up in the Baltimore Orioles' farm system. They both made their big league debuts in 1981 and were on the 1983 club that beat the Phillies in the World Series.

"I'm very proud to have been his teammate and to be a friend," Shelby said. "We go way back. I remember his first home run in A ball. We lived up the street from each other in Baltimore. We used to ride to the park together. We had fun."

Shelby paused, and sighed.

"Gosh, I'm telling you, I'd have loved to have been there (today)."

Trivia time

Thursday, former Pirates reliever Jose Mesa became the 11th pitcher to play in 1,000 games when he made a relief appearance for Philadelphia.

What two other ex-Buccos also pitched in their 1,000th games as members of the Phillies• The answer: Kent Tekulve and Dan Plesac.

Former Pirates right-hander Roberto Hernandez, who is now with the Los Angeles Dodgers, went into yesterday's action with 992 career appearances.

The other ex-Pirate on the list is Rich Gossage, who pitched in 1,002 games.

Running wild

Philadelphia's Michael Bourn stole second base Friday night without even drawing a throw from catcher Ronny Paulino. Bourn became the 15th straight runner to swipe a bag against the Pirates.

Two weeks ago, the Colorado Rockies stole three bases in two innings.

The catching combo of Paulino and Ryan Doumit has not thrown out a base-stealer since July 4, when Ryan Braun was gunned down by Paulino.

For the season, Pirates catchers have thrown out 19 of 73 runners. That includes a 1-for-5 effort by Humberto Cota.

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