Orioles Mourn Death Of Clubhouse Figure

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The long-time umpire attendant for the Baltimore Orioles has died. Ernie Tyler was 86. From 1960 to 2007, he worked 3,819 straight home games.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

And let's go from "Spider-Man" to a story about an iron man. When we talk about the Iron Man of the Baltimore Orioles, you may think of Cal Ripken, the Hall of Famer who set the all-time record for consecutive games played. But another member of that franchise had an even longer streak. His name was Ernie Tyler, and he died last week at age 86.

He prepared baseballs, and attended to the needs of the umpires, for almost 48 years - without missing an Orioles home game. He was a ball boy well into his 80s. That added up to 3,819 consecutive home games, far longer than Cal Ripken's streak.

Mr. ERNIE TYLER (Late Batboy, Baltimore Orioles): I missed a lot of graduations and a lot of - well, the weddings, they schedule around the baseball season. Everybody gets married in November. But my wife sometimes with - like, a birth wouldn't - she wouldn't wait on me. We had to get to the hospital. But usually, it happened after the game.

(Soundbite of laughter)

RENEE MONTAGNE: Usually - they got to the hospital after...

INSKEEP: Most of the time.

MONTAGNE: Glad to hear that. That was Ernie Tyler, speaking back in 1999. He told another story, about rubbing mud into the balls before teams took to the field - one of baseball's oldest rituals.

Mr. TYLER: First, you got to get the mud, and you make sure your hands are wet. The reason you do this is to take the glare off the ball. It's an old thing. It's been going on in baseball - I know since 1904.

INSKEEP: The late Ernie Tyler kept umpires supplied with those baseballs. His consecutive home-game streak began in 1960, and it would have lasted until almost the end of his life except that he ended it voluntarily in 2007, so he could attend Cal Ripken's induction into the Hall of Fame.

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