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Cal Ripken Jr. Rookie Cards and Autograph Memorabilia Buying Guide

Cal Ripken Jr.

Date of Birth: 8/24/1960
Rookie Card Year: 1982
Investment Rating: 7.5

Cal Ripken Jr. is a player that immediately brings to mind the greatness of baseball. The "Iron Man" carries credibility with collectors who still long for the days of Ruth and DiMaggio. He's also young enough that younger collectors can better relate to his accomplishments, making Cal Ripken Jr. cards coveted by a big cross-section of fans.

While Cal Ripken Jr. cards and memorabilia sell at strong prices, there is little likelihood for significant increases as he gets older. The last big milestone was his induction into the Hall of Fame in 2007, and values should hold steady over the long-term.

Ripken only has three true rookie cards, each of which sell for reasonable amounts. As with most older rookie cards, graded versions tend to sell the most consistently with the gem mint cards going for hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. Another card from his rookie season, the 1982 Topps Traded Cal Ripken Jr. is also strongly pursued by collectors. However, it is not considered a true rookie because Ripken was already featured in the main 1982 Topps Baseball set.

Cal Ripken Jr. Rookie Card Checklist

1982 Donruss Cal Ripken RC #405

The 1982 Donruss Cal Ripken rookie portrays a classic close-up shot of the young star. Centering issues make extremely high-grade copies of the card somewhat difficult to find. The simple design does not detract from the card's appeal. It is one of the best Cal Ripken Jr. cards.

1982 Fleer Cal Ripken RC #176

The 1982 Fleer design is even more basic. It's to the point that it is hard to distinguish as a real baseball card. Not even the brand name is present on the front. Other than the photo, the only thing on the front is a thin orange border and name plate. Of the three rookie Cal Ripken Jr. cards, this is the least desirable.

1982 Topps #21 Cal Ripken Jr. RC #21 with Bob Bonner, Jeff Schneider

Although this card has the highest book value of the three rookie Cal Ripken Jr. cards,  the fact that he shares it with two other players who accomplished nothing hurts its overall appeal. Instead, many collectors have adopted Ripken's 1982 Topps Traded card as his most desirable, even if it's not a true rookie card.

1982 Topps Traded Cal Ripken Jr. #98T

1982 Topps Traded Cal Ripken Jr

Although it's not an official rookie card, this is the most popular of the Cal Ripken Jr. cards released in 1982. Less readily available, although not rare, it's much more visually appealing seeing the legend pictured solo.

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Autograph Guide

Cal Ripken Jr. Autographed Memorabilia Buying Guide

Below you will find examples of what an authentic Cal Ripken Jr.  autograph looks like. This can be used as a first point of reference for determining the legitimacy of autograph memorabilia, but is not a substitute for having your items authenticated by a well-respected professional autograph authentication company. Some of the trusted sources within the sports memorabilia market include the following companies: PSA, JSA, Steiner, Tristar and Sports Card Guaranty. In addition, Cal Ripken Jr. has his own authentication company called "Ironclad Authentics". Click on any of the images below to view full size photos.

Cal Ripken Cut Signature Exemplar

Cal Ripken Jr. Key Signature Attributes: An authentic Cal Ripken Jr. signature autograph will exhibit several distinguishing characteristics. Regardless of  the type of item or when it was signed, look for the following signature features:

  1. Entire signature is written on a relatively level horizontal plane.
  2. The letter "C" is over-sized and surround the letter "a" on the top and bottom.
  3. The pen lifts to start the letter "a", which flows into what is obviously the letter "l" but resembles more of an "e" due to its small size.
  4. The pen lifts again to start "Ripken", which is represented by the letter "R" with an open loop, and a very small letter "i", which is even smaller than the "l" in "Cal", the letter "i" is dotted but haphazardly, often appearing over the letter "R."
  5. Cal pays tribute in his signature to his namesake, Cal Ripken Sr., by having the largest later of the signature be a very distinct and over-sized letter "J."
  6. The letter "r" is implied and the signature is finished with a period after the letter "J."
  7. The letter "L" is very flamboyant with a big loop at the top.
  8. The remaining letters are very clear.
  9. He often uses an inscription of his jersey number.

Cal Ripken Jr. Signed Baseballs

Active Listings for Cal Ripken Jr. Signed Baseballs

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Cal Ripken Jr. Signed Bat Pricing:

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Cal Ripken Jr Signed Bat Cal Ripken Signed Commemorative Bat

Cal Ripken Jr. Signed Batting Helmet Pricing:

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Cal Ripken Jr. Signed Photograph Pricing:

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Cal Ripken Signed Photo Cal Ripken Signed Photo XM

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More Info

Don't miss our other guides to collecting Cal Ripken Jr.,.

For general information and player statistics visit:

 |  E-Mail Author | 
Trey Treutel is an Ole Miss grad and a lifelong sports fanatic. He is a huge fan of the NBA and NFL, as well as soccer, college basketball and college football. As a kid, he collected football and basketball cards. In more recent years, he started collecting basketball cards again on a whim and has since expanded to other sports and entertainment options. Find Trey on Twitter at @datreute or Google+.

User Comments

  1. how much is cal ripken gold card worth?

  2. craig hendershot Can you provide more info – What year? What company?

  3. I have quite a few baseball cards and I am needing to sell but don’t want to sell for to inexpensive. Any suggestions?

  4. I have a Cal Ripken Jr. collection I wanted to sell. There are 220 cards in the collection. I do have multiples of some cards, but there are over 150 different cards in this collection. It comes with a plaque and I would say 180 of the cards are in protectors. There is one card protector that is a Cal Ripken Jr protector that is orange and black with his name accross the top. Would anyone be interested in that collection?

  5. I am debating on selling my baseball card collection. Primarily I have Cal Ripken Jr. I have thousands. I stopped collecting a few years before he retired. Most of iron man’s cards have been in Polly and hard sleeve cases in boxes in a conditioned place. I don’t know if I have a list or currently know what they are worth. I just want to know if there is a market out there. Also, if you are reading this and are interested, please email me

  6. I am trying to find out how much actual photos taken by a family member of mine of Cal Ripken, Jr in which two are signed. Some are from a charity basketball game and the signed ones are outside of the old Memorial Stadium. There is another player in the car with him in one but I am unfamiliar with the player.

  7. No mention of his Charlotte minor league card? I do realize this is about RC cards but figured when talking about rip jrs younger days it should be mentioned, and I love the guy also, so much my oldest son is named after him, and im a braves fan lol

  8. We cover more Ripken cards, including the Charlotte minor league release, in this top guide –

  9. I have a cal ripken jr. Trading cards collectors set. 80 full color cards. Still wrapped in plastic. I don’t know how much it’s worth however but willing to sell

  10. I have ticket stub to the game and 2 Bull Pen “90 minute event” passes along with the Washington Post Sports Page dated September 7, 1995 2131 “With Timeless Grace , Ripken becomes a Legend” The ticket for the game is Section 316 UR Row A Seat 1 along with the 2 Bull Pen Passes for September 6, 1995 along with about a dozen Cal Ripken Jr. trading cards both Topps and Fleer Cards – What would something like that be able to sell for in today’s market? Thanks

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