Well, the answer is this man, Everett Scott. He played in 1,307 straight games from June 20, 1916 to May 6, 1925. It remains the third longest streak in history.
Scott, a shortstop like Ripken, played at various times the Red Sox, Yankees, Senators, Reds and White Sox. When his streak ended on May 6, 1925, he was replaced at short by a man named Pee Wee Wanniger.
A few weeks later, on June 1, Wanniger was pinch-hit for by Lou Gehrig, who had only seen marginal time as a pinch-hitter and a defensive replacement before then, as 1B Wally Pipp had, since Scott’s streak ended, now had the longest active consecutive game streak going. The day after that, June 2, Wally Pipp had a headache. Lou Gehrig started in his place, and went 3-5 with a double in a 8-5 win over Washington.
Gehrig, as I mentioned before, had seen some marginal time before. In fact, his debut had come during his age 19 year in 1923, when, on June 15, he came in as a defensive replacement for Wally Pipp. As he looked across the diamond, standing at short, he would have seen… Everett Scott.
Here’s a picture of Scott from the Library of Congress: