BALTIMORE, Sept. 6 -- President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore played second fiddle to shortstop Cal Ripken Wednesday as they watched the Baltimore Orioles workhorse in his 2,131st game -- one more than Lou Gehrig's record. Before the game, which was held at Baltimore's Camden Yards, Ripken met with the Clinton and Gore in the Orioles' locker room. Clinton was accompanied by his daughter Chelsea, and Gore brought along his wife, Tipper, and son, Albert Gore III. 'Congratulations,' Clinton said upon shaking the future Hall Of Famers' hand. Ripken gave Clinton and Gore each an Orioles' warm-up jacket, and autographed baseballs and bats. On the bats, Ripken inscribed the words, 'Thanks for being here on this special day.' As a smiling Clinton clutched the bat, he looked at the traveling White House press corps and asked, 'What do you think, you think I should start bringing this to work?' Clinton later told reporters that Ripken said to him, 'All I did was show up every day and do something I enjoy.' To that, the president responded, 'I like people who enjoy what they do.' When Clinton returned to the White House Tuesday night after a three- week vacation he said he turned on the television and saw a story about a Virginia worker who had not missed a day of work in 16 years. 'These are the kind of people who make America great,' he said referring to Ripken and the Virginia worker. Then, pointing to the capacity crowd at Camden Yards, 'These people wouldn't miss a day of work if they could help it.'
Clinton, asked whether he thought Gehrig would be disappointed that his record was broken, responded, 'No, Lou Gehrig would want him to do it.' The president also joked around with star outfielder Bobby Bonilla before the game. Bonilla had a small video camera in his hands and as Clinton approached, the outfielder said, 'Oh, this is good, this is good -- a close-up.' The game was very special for 12-year-old baseball fan Albert Gore III. In 1989, the youngster was hit by a car while leaving an Orioles game at the old Memorial Stadium in Baltimore. He almost died as a result of that injury. Also traveling with Clinton and Gore were chief of staff Leon Panetta, national security adviser Tony Lake, deputy chief of staff Erskine Bowles, U.S. Trade Representative Mickey Kantor, aide Bruce Lindsey and deputy press secretary Mary Ellen Glynn -- all of whom claimed to be baseball devotees. Clinton and most of the White House staff watched the game from Orioles owner Peter Angelos' private box in Camden Yards.