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Offered here is the earliest Cal Ripken, Jr. professional jersey – his instructional league jersey worn by Ripken circa 1978. After a great high school career that culminated with him pitching Aberdeen (MD) High to the State Championship, Cal Ripken, Jr. became one of the most sought-after amateurs in the country. His father, Cal Sr., had played and was now a manager in the Baltimore Orioles farm system, and it was only natural that the Birds picked up his son in the second round of the 1978 draft. Cal Jr. spent the next three years working his way through Baltimore’s farm system; Bluefield in 1978, Miami and Charlotte in 1979, Charlotte again for 1980 and finally Rochester in 1981. His 23 home runs and .288 average in Rochester earned him the International League Rookie of the year Award and more importantly, got him a late season call-up to Baltimore.

Based on the information provided to us by Ripken, he wore this number “10” jersey circa 1978 at the age of 17 when he played for the Bluefield Orioles (West Virginia) of the Appalachian League. Cal has provided photos of him wearing this jersey and in his book, The Only Way I Know, Cal had this to say about numbers he wore, “Some guys are particular about their number, but I didn't care.  I was just happy to have any major league uniform with any number.” For Bluefield, Cal definitely wore number “10” and it comes directly from his own collection. The orange mesh jersey has “Orioles” screen printed across the chest in black and white. The collar and sleeve endings are ringed in white ribbing and the collar has a Rawlings size X-Large label affixed. The back of the jersey carries the mysterious number “10” screen printed in black and white. The jersey exhibits good game use with light toning throughout, but no obvious holes, tears of major snags. Cal has completed this minor league jersey with a bold signature across the chest in black marker. A great piece from the time when 3,632 was just another number. This jersey comes with a signed LOA from Cal Ripken, Jr. for the game use and a COA from Beckett Authentication, who witnessed Cal Ripken, Jr. signing this item.

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