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Nicknamed the “Iron Man” for playing 2,632 consecutive games, Cal Ripken Jr. is a one-of-a-kind player and it’s one reason why Cal Ripken Jr. rookie cards are valuable.
Not only for his career longevity, which in itself is quite the accomplishment, but Ripken had the stats to back up his Hall of Fame career including 19 All-Star appearance in his 21 years in the big leagues.
It’s no wonder that despite his rookie card coming in the early 1980s, the ones with a high graded value can be worth quite a bit. Here’s three that we like in particular.
1982 Topps Traded #98T
Despite the Topps Traded card not technically being Ripken’s rookie card, it is treated as such by many collectors since his 1982 Topps card is shared with two lesser players.
This card was also distributed only in the traded sets in 1982, making it scarce to begin with. And the traded sets themselves weren’t produced en masse, making this Ripken card even more rare.
That’ll do wonders for the card’s value, which is currently being sold for more than $2,000 in Gem Mint condition.
1982 Topps #21
There’s a much more abundant supply of this rookie card that makes it less valuable than the aforementioned Topps Traded card. But it’s hard to find in great condition.
It is also a multi-player “Future Stars” card.
Nevertheless, with Ripken at the centre, this card still holds its value well.
1982 Donruss #405
A nice clean looking portrait card that is affordable for many collectors to add to their collection.
The Donruss version also has the same issue as the other rookie cards of that era – many were poorly cut and therefore off-centred.
But unlike the other two, a PSA Graded 10 card is still within more collectors’ price range.
MORE ON CAL RIPKEN JR.: Cal Ripken Jr. spent his entire 21-year career with the Baltimore Orioles as the shortstop and third baseman, setting numerous records and winning countless accolades along the way.
He was selected by the Orioles in the second round of the 1978 draft and made his major league debut on August 10, 1981. He quickly established himself as a top defensive player, earning the first of his 19 consecutive Gold Glove Awards in 1983.
But Ripken’s most famous accomplishment is of course his consecutive games played streak. Starting on May 30, 1982, Ripken played in 2,632 consecutive games over more than 16 seasons, breaking Lou Gehrig’s previous record of 2,130 games played.
Ripken’s streak finally came to an end on September 20, 1998, when he voluntarily removed himself from the lineup after playing in 2,632 consecutive games.
Some other achievements and accolades in Ripken’s career include winning two American League Most Valuable Player awards (in 1983 and 1991) and being named to the All-Star team 19 times. He also won eight Silver Slugger awards, and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007.
Ripken finished his career with 3,184 hits, 431 home runs, and 1,695 runs batted in. He also set the record for most home runs by a shortstop (345) and most doubles by a right-handed hitter (603).
It’s why Cal Ripken Jr. rookie cards and baseball cards should have value over time.
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