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Cal Ripken, Jr. wore this jersey to play in his 2,632nd consecutive game, the final one of his record-setting streak. To say this jersey is a museum-worthy artifact would be an understatement; in fact, it has spent the past 22 years as the cornerstone of an exhibit about Cal in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

This jersey embodies the excitement, determination and dedication it took for Ripken to set the most impressive and unmatchable consecutive games played record in any sport. Worn the afternoon of September 19, 1998, Cal faced the rival New York Yankees at Camden Yards. Playing third base, the Orioles star went hitless in four at-bats but was flawless in the field, recording one putout and three assists.

Cal had come along way by the time he took this jersey off after the Orioles 5-3 win over New York. 16 years before, on May 30, 1982, a 21-year-old playing in his first full season of Big League ball, took the field at Minneapolis’ Metrodome. Little did anyone know he would play in every one of the 2,631 games that followed. What would become the legendary streak could have ended so many times, especially in the early years. Because reaching Lou Gehrig’s mark of 2,130 consecutive games played seemed so improbable, his manager taking the young star out at any stage to rest could have been expected, except for one thing – this budding superstar played the game the “Ripken Way.” Cal Jr. was taught to play ball by his father, Cal Sr., and that included a work ethic in which you played hard every day. And that is exactly what Cal Jr. did for the next decade and a half. Injuries, slumps, exhaustion, family obligations – none of that distracted him from playing the game the only way he knew how, and you couldn’t play it if you weren’t in the lineup.

By the time anyone took notice of a streak of any kind, it was well into 1987 when it was determined that not only had he appeared in every game since May 30, 1982, he played in 8,243 consecutive innings, shattering the old record that had been set in the 19th century. In 1989 he surpassed the National League’s consecutive game record of 1,207 and kept going. Lou Gehrig’s 2,130 mark loomed ahead like an unapproachable milestone - unapproachable to anyone else but Cal Ripken, Jr. Season after season, the games ticked by and his tally grew. The Orioles moved from Memorial Stadium to Camden Yards, teammates came and went and a generation of Orioles fans grew into adults not knowing what it was like not to have Cal Ripken suited up and on the field every game. On September 6, 1995, Gehrig’s unapproachable record was surpassed, and the legend of the Iron Man was born. Every game Cal played after that was the new record. By the time he removed this jersey after the September 19, 1998 game, the record stood frozen forever at 2,632.

This Orioles alternate black jersey that has been photo matched to the record-breaking 2,632nd consecutive game on Septebmer 19, 1998 is and will always be one of the most important jerseys in existence. The black jersey has “Orioles” across the chest in orange, white and black tackle twill script above his number “8” in the same vibrant colors. The sleeve openings are ringed in orange piping and an orange, black and white oriole bird patch is sewn on the left sleeve. The left front tail has a size 48 Russell Athletic label with a “2” EXTRA LENGTH” and “100% POLYESTER” hang tags and “1998” strip tag affixed below. The date of the historic game “9/19/98” is handwritten in black marker on the strip tag. Inside the left front tail is a white tag with “008.001.019 JERSEY From Game 2632” that has been affixed with a safety pin. The back has “RIPKEN” across the shoulders in orange, white and black tackle twill letters on a matching black nameplate, and his number “8” is below, again in orange, white and black tackle twill. The jersey exhibits some scuffing from use and there are loose threads throughout and the tackle twill exhibits some fading and puckering from laundering.

At this time, this jersey is in the same condition it was when Cal took it off after game 2,632. Because it was the intention to preserve it in the same condition it was when Cal took it off after game 2,632, the piece is unsigned. However, prior to shipping, the winning bidder will have the option of having Cal Ripken, Jr. sign this historic artifact and inscribe it with any inscription the new owner wishes.

One cannot overstress the historical significance of this jersey. There is a reason this jersey held a prominent place in Cooperstown for more than two decades. Cal Ripken’s 2,632 consecutive games is a feat that will never be broken, a record as unbreakable as Johnny Vander Meer’s back to back no hitters and Cy Young’s 511 career wins. This jersey comes with a signed LOA from Cal Ripken, Jr. for the game use and a LOA from Sports Investors Authentication, who have photo matched this jersey to the September 19, 1998 game. Sports Investors has also photo matched this jersey to the August 15th, 1998 game.

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