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    1981 Cal Ripken, Jr. Game Worn Baltimore Orioles Rookie Jersey. Simply extraordinary find derives from the collection of an early hobbyist who was making use of connections within Major League Baseball when game worn jersey collecting was in its infancy. What must have been considered at the time an inconsequential acquisition--a jersey from the coach's kid--has proven over time to become perhaps the most significant rookie shirt of the past three decades, the only known Cal Ripken, Jr. jersey tagged to the 1981 season.

    Baseball's future Iron Man was honored as the American League Rookie of the Year in 1982, but Ripken actually made his Big League debut two weeks before his twenty-first birthday in August of 1981 after spending most of the season in Rochester as a member of the Redwings farm club. His stat line for that abridged first season provided little hint of the Hall of Fame career to come--five hits and no RBI's in twenty-three games, with a .128 batting average. It would prove to be the first and last time that Ripken would fail to impress.

    This inauspicious start makes the survival of the presented road grey knit jersey all the more unlikely. A small handful of Ripken gamers attributed to the 1981 season have been 1980 models stripped of identifiers and reworked for Cal's secondary usage. The jersey offered here is the only known Ripken tagged to the 1981 season, as lower left interior tail holds proper "Rawlings [size] 42" label with "Set 1 1981" flap tag and "1 Inch Extra Length" tailoring modifier. Orange and black tackle twill "Orioles 8" on chest is original and unaltered, as is the number "8" on verso. A team instituted plate change is apparent for the name on back, but we must stress that only Ripken wore number "8" for the 1981 season. Solid wear suggests the jersey was carried over for use during Ripken's 1982 Rookie of the Year season as well. LOA from Heritage Auctions.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2011
    10th-11th Thursday-Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 5
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,957

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