Cal Ripken Jr. Rookie Cards
Cal Ripken Jr. has four cards that are widely considered rookie cards, but that isn’t universally agreed on because one of them is from a traded set. Beyond those four cards, there are also other great 1982 Cal Ripken cards that can be considered rookies. In this article I’ll walk through all of these rookies and a few really cool minor league cards that pre-date all of them.
1982 Topps Cal Ripken Jr. Card #98T
The 1982 Topps Cal Ripken Jr. rookie (card #98T) is one of the most valuable baseball cards of the 1980s even though it is part of a traded set. The 1982 Topps traded set isn’t necessarily rare, but it is more scarce than the major-issue Topps Fleer and Donruss sets from 1982. That’s the primary reason why this card is the most valuable and sought-after Ripken Jr. rookie.
Cal Ripken Jr. played his entire very long career as a member of the Baltimore Orioles, a team that honored him by retiring his number 8. During his career he was excellent on offense as well as on defense. He won multiple Silver Slugger awards, Gold Glove awards as well as two American League MVP awards. His accomplishments during his 17-year career led to him being elected to the Hall of Fame on his first opportunity. The rookie cards of any Hall of Fame player who excelled on both sides of the ball would be valuable, but there are other factors that make Cal Ripken Jr.’s cards even more sought after.
- Iron Man: Cal Ripken Jr. is a first-ballot Hall of Famer without the streak, but it’s the streak that defined his career more than any other accomplishment. Ripken Jr. took the field in 2,632 games in a row without missing a game, which is the equivalent of 16.2 seasons. This is more than just unheard of, it’s legendary. Legendary accomplishments is one of the key drivers of card value and interest from collectors.
- Power Hitting Shortstop Pioneer: Cal Ripken Jr. spent most of his prime years as a shortstop, but he wasn’t a typical shortstop. That’s because he was 6′ 4″ tall and had excellent power-hitting ability. The shortstop position during this era was viewed as a defensive position and any offense a team got was viewed as a bonus. That changed when Ripken entered the league because teams started to see the advantage of having an offensive threat who could still manage the defensive responsibilities of the position. After Ripken’s success, we started to see other shortstops in his mold like Barry Larkin, Alex Rodriguez, and Derek Jeter.
- Unbreakable Record: I’ve mentioned the “Iron Man” record already, but it’s worth mentioning another aspect of it. No record is truly unbreakable, but the likelihood of another player appearing in more continuous games is pretty unlikely. Because of this, it’s likely that Cal Ripken Jr.’s name will be coming up even after he’s been retired for a century. This ensures collectors who never saw Ripken Jr. take the field will hear his name and increases the odds that collectors will remain interested in his cards.
1982 Topps Traded Baseball Set Details
The 1982 Topps Traded set is an extended set that mostly contains rookie players along with traded players in their new uniform. Almost all the value of this set comes from the Cal Ripken rookie card, because there are not any other major rookie cards included. The set was only available in a box from dealers – none of these cards were available in packs.
The most notable cards in the set, outside of the Ripken Jr. rookie, are Ozzie Smith’s first Cardinals card, Reggie Jackson as an Angel, and rookie cards for Chili Davis and Kent Hrbek.
- Year: 1982
- Manufacturer : Topps
- Number of Cards: 132
- Card size: 2 1/2″ x 3 1/2″ (standard size)
- Checklist (#132)
1982 Topps Traded Cal Ripken Jr. card #98T Details
- Card no: #98T of 132
- Name on front: Cal Ripken
- Name on Back: Cal Ripken
- Position: 3rd Base
- Height: 6′ 4″
- Weight: 200
- Bats: Right
- Throws: Right
- Drafted: Orioles #2-June, 1978
- Acquired: Via Draft
- Born: 8-24-60, Havre-de-Grace, Maryland
- Home: Aberdeen, Maryland
Front of the card
Design: The front of the 1982 Topps Traded Cal Ripken Jr. rookie card #98T shares the same design as the 1982 Topps regular set. It has a white border with two stripes going down the left side and curving to the bottom of the card. The position on this card says 3rd base, but Cal Ripken would become famous as a shortstop. In fact, after splitting time pretty evenly between 3rd and SS in 1982, he was almost exclusively a shortstop through the 1996 season.
The photo on the card shows Ripken Jr. waist up posing in a batting stance with his Orioles cap on. It features a facsimile signature in the middle of the card. The Topps logo, player name and team name can be found in the lower right corner.
Shop for a 1982 Topps Cal Ripken Jr. Rookie card #98T on eBay (affiliate link), because it’s the most valuable Ripken Jr. rookie.
Back of the card
The back of the 1982 Topps Traded Cal Ripken Jr. rookie card #98T is mostly red and printed on gray cardstock. The top of the card has a cartoon about Phil Niekro’s 200th complete game on the left and a fact about Willie Stargell on the right. Below that is the Topps logo, card number, Cal Ripken’s bio info, name, position and complete minor and Major League stats. His minor league stats include numbers from Bluefield, Miami, Charlotte and Rochester. The bottom of the card has a one-line highlight from Ripken’s 1982 season.
Cal belted Homer his 1st At-Bat of season, 4-5-82.1982 Topps Traded Cal Ripken Jr. card #98T
Cal Ripken Jr. Rookie Card Value
The Cal Ripken Jr. 1982 Topps Traded rookie card is one of the most valuable cards of the 1980s. The chart below was pulled from the popular card grading site PSA on 11/20/2021. It shows prices for the Cal Ripken Jr. rookie card in various conditions.
Keep in mind that prices fluctuate. While PSA is a great way to find out the value of a card, we recommend going to eBay to see what cards are currently selling for on the world’s most popular auction site. Click here to view current auctions for the 1982 Topps Cal Ripken Jr. Rookie card #98T.
Other Relevant Cal Ripken Jr. Cards
There was a time when a lot of baseball players only had one rookie card, but after Fleer and Donruss both entered the trading card game in 1981 that is extremely rare. Cal Ripken Jr. has three rookie cards, one from each of the major-release 1982 sets, as well as some other very interesting test and minor release rookies. I’ll also take a look at his minor league cards, because they are simply too cool to ignore.
1982 Topps Orioles Future Stars Cal Ripken Rookie #21
Many collectors don’t consider cards from traded sets to be rookie cards. Those collectors look to the 1982 Topps Orioles Future Stars #21 card to be Cal Ripken’s rookie card. Both are great cards that can reasonably be considered rookie cards in my opinion. Like a lot of rookie cards from this era, Ripken Jr. doesn’t have his own card. Instead, he shares this card with two other Orioles rookies. Neither Jeff Schneider nor Bob Bonner had long-term success in the MLB, so the value of this card is completely driven by Cal Ripken Jr..
Shop for the 1982 Topps Cal Ripken Jr. rookie card on eBay (affiliate link), because it was the first Topps card issued.
1982 Fleer Cal Ripken Jr. Rookie #176
The 1982 Fleer Cal Ripken Jr. card #176 is another regular-issue Cal Ripken rookie card that collectors could pull from packs. This set was Fleer’s second after returning to baseball card production. The set is relatively good quality if you ignore the blurry photography that plagues many of the cards. Unfortunately, the Ripken card wasn’t able to avoid this issue. The photo of Cal Ripken Jr. on this card is out of focus. Incidentally, there are two very rare Fleer test cards that have this same blurry photo. I’ll talk about those a little further down in this article.
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1982 Donruss Cal Ripken Jr. #405
The 1982 Donruss Cal Ripken Jr. card #405 is the third of Cal Ripken Jr.’s regular-issue cards that could be found in packs in 1982. This was the second Donruss set and cards from this set are generally less valuable than the Topps and Fleer cards. Still, this card is still quite valuable in high-grade condition and it is popular with collectors.
Shop for 1982 Donruss Cal Ripken Jr. on eBay (affiliate link)
1982 Fleer Cal Ripken Jr. Test Cards
The 1982 Fleer Test cards are from a very rare sheet that International Paper Company printed for Fleer. The test sheet had two cards featuring a photo of Cal Ripken Jr. One of them has the name “Cal Ripken Jr.” on the front of the card and the other has the name “Dave Ford.” Both cards were made in equal numbers because they were cut from the same sheet. These are extremely rare and valuable Cal Ripken Jr. rookie cards.
Shop for a 1982 Fleer Test Cal Ripken Jr. on eBay (rare) (affiliate link), because they are extremely rare.
1982 All Star Game Program Insert Cal Ripken Jr.
The 1982 All Star Game Program Insert Cal Ripken Jr. card is a very rare and valuable Ripken Jr. rookie card. This card is much smaller than the standard-sized cards and could only be acquired by cutting it out of All-Star game program. The 1982 All-Star game played in Olympic Stadium in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. At the time of writing, only three of these have been graded as Gem Mint by PSA.
Shop for a 1982 Star-Cal Cal Ripken Jr. on eBay (rare) (affiliate link)
Cal Ripken Jr. Minor League Cards
This article wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Cal Ripken Jr.’s fantastic minor league cards. There were four made that all pre-date his 1982 rookie cards. Two of them are nearly identical and were made in 1980 when he played for the Charlotte O’s and the other two were made in 1981 when he played for the Rochester Red Wings.
1980 WBTV Charlotte O’s Cal Ripken Jr. #16
Shop for the 1980 WBTV Charlotte O’s Cal Ripken Jr. on eBay (affiliate link), because it’s one of the first two Ripken cards made.
1980 Police Charlotte O’s Cal Ripken Jr.
Shop for the 1980 Police Charlotte O’s Cal Ripken Jr. on eBay (affiliate link) , because it’s one of the first two Ripken Jr. cards made.
1981 Rochester Red Wings Cal Ripken Jr. #15
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1981 WTF Co. Rochester Red Wings Cal Ripken Jr. #1
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Cal Ripken Jr.’s Legacy
Cal Ripken Jr. was one of baseball’s biggest stars during the 1980s and 1990s and was a fixture on the American League All-Star team throughout his career. He played his entire career for the Baltimore Orioles and the franchise retired his number because of what he meant to the franchise. During his career he won several awards including two American League MVP awards, but he is best knowing for setting the record for consecutive games played. Lou Gehrig’s record of playing in 2,130 straight games was thought to be unbreakable, but Ripken crushed it by playing in 2,532 games without missing due to injury or taking a game off. Because of this, he is nicknamed “The Iron Man.” It would be wrong, however, to focus too much on that record because Cal Ripken Jr. accomplished so much during his 17-year career. Here’s a list of just some of his accomplishments:
- Named AL Rookie of the Year in 1982
- 2 time AL Gold Glove winner (1991, 1992)
- 1 time AL Total Bases leader (1991)
- 1 time AL Doubles leader (1983)
- 9 time AL Games Played leader
- 1 time AL Hits leader (1983)
- 1 time AL Runs Scored Leader (1983)
- 2 time AL Extra Base HIts leader (1983, 1991)
- 4 time AL Fielding Percentage leader (1990, 1991, 1994, 1995)
- 19 time AL All-Star
- 8 time AL Silver Slugger
- 1991 Home Run Derby winner
- 2 time Major League Player of the Year (1993, 1991)
- 2 time American League MVP winner (1983, 1991)
- Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007
Get Your Cal Ripken Jr. Rookie
Do you want to own a 1982 Topps Cal Ripken Jr. Rookie (#98T)? If so, we recommend starting your search on eBay – the world’s #1 card trading place. Even if you’re not planning to buy one just yet, it’s fun to look at all the great cards currently for sale.
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All About Cal Ripken Jr. Rookies Infographic
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