2021 Goldin Elite Closing Jan 30 &31
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 1/30/2021

While Cal Ripken Jr.’s minor league stats are not of the eye-popping variety they are certainly good enough to merit his steady advance through the Orioles farms system and eventual promotion to the big leagues in 1981. Ripken began the 1981 season at AAA Rochester where he hit .288 with 23 home runs and 75 RBI in 114 games including the longest game in professional baseball history, a marathon 33-inning affair that began at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, RI on April 18/19, 1981 and concluded at the same ballpark on June 23. Ripken would make his Major League debut on August 10th, 1981 with the Big Club, the first regular season game following the Player’s Strike that split 1981 into two halves as Ripken would finish the season in Baltimore.

Offered here is one of the jerseys worn during Ripken’s first foray into the Majors when he came up with Baltimore in 1981. Goldin Auctions previously sold Ripken’s MLB debut jersey back in October of 2020. When this shirt entered the hobby over a decade ago, its significance was immediately recognized by group of hardcore collectors as it sold for a then World Record price. Its original owner, Dick Gordon, was gifted this shirt personally by Cal Ripken, Jr. after one of (if not the very first one) autograph appearance the Iron Man attended. Dick Gordon, known as the agent to Carl Yastrzemski and numerous other players, arranged the signing and accompanied Ripken to the event. Afterwards, Ripken personally gifted Gordon with this shirt. The Orioles wore the standard white shirts at home, gray on the road, and as team tradition dictated, orange alternates (this style) on special select Sundays. With it specified limited issuance, this shirt most likely carried over into the 1982 season and would have been one of his jerseys of choice for the Sunday alternate games where this style was mandatory.

This Wilson size 44 orange alternate pullover jersey worn by Ripken in 1981 and most likely carried over to the 1982 season, has “Orioles” and Ripken’s number “8” sewn on the front in black and white tackle twill. The V-neck collar has black/white/black stripes and the sleeve ends are bordered in black, white and orange stripes. The front left tail has an orange patch that has “80 1” for the year and set as it was common for teams to carry over jerseys from one season to the next. It is believed Ripken attended the 1981 Spring Training with the team, making this one of the very first shirts issued to the Iron Man. The back has “RIPKEN” sewn on in black tackle twill on a matching orange nameplate and Ripken’s number “8” sewn on in black and white tackle twill. There is evidence of a previous nameplate application, but the current nameplate is original to the jersey that was issued and worn by Ripken. Being late in the season, the calendar only allowed for seven Sundays for which the orange alternate may have been worn (and the fact they did not wear the orange every Sunday), this shirt would have remained in pristine condition and certainly been available for the 1982 season to wear. Since it would have been worn so sporadically during the remaining part of the 1981 season, it would have been carried over by the team for issuance the next year. With limited field action, Ripken would not have been a big enough draw at a card show, so it is highly unlikely it was gifted to Gordon before or during 1981.

The following season, 1982 was entirely different as Ripken played in 160 games, belted 28 home runs, and batted a solid .264 while being named 1982 American League Rookie of the Year. During that stretch, on May 30th, 1982, the rookie infielder started his 2,632 consecutive game streak on a Sunday and this shirt would have been available for him to wear during that historic 1982 season. Ripken was now a big deal after the 1982 season, creating a demand for autographs and the services of Dick Gordon. The exact time of the autograph signing and the gifting of the shirt to Gordon from Ripken is unknown, but it is safe to speculate it was after the 1982 season. Ripken, recognizing the significance of the rare Orange alternate variety, confidently signed and inscribed it on the right center front tail in black marker, “Best Wishes, Cal Ripken Jr, My First Shirt”, documenting it connection to the early, or first moments of his career and earliest games of the streak. A truly wonderful gamer from the earliest part of Ripken’s Hall of Fame career. Remembering the initial excitement this shirt caused, a new generation of advanced collectors now have the opportunity to add one of the hobby’s most significant and early documented shirts to their collections. A review by MEARS determined the shirt was all original and have provided a LOA (317513) for the game use and was assigned the coveted grade of a perfect A10. Additionally, there are LOA's from JSA (BB77049) and Beckett (A32759) for Ripken’s signature.

Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $7,500.00
Final prices include buyers premium.: $31,200.00
Number Bids: 14
Auction closed on Monday, February 1, 2021.
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