Baltimore Orioles shortstop Cal Ripken is leading the American League in hitting, and his power statistics have Triple Crown potential.
His baseball cards are putting up some impressive numbers, too.
Ripken made it to the major leagues in 1981 and onto major-league cards in 1982. He shares his Topps card with Bob Bonner and Tom Schneider, but is by himself on Donruss and Fleer. He got his own Topps card in the '82 Traded set.
Price-guide authors usually give the Donruss and Fleer cards lower prices than Topps, because Donruss and Fleer sets flooded the market in 1982. And, of the two Topps cards, the Traded card is more valuable. Ripken was Rookie of the Year, and his continued success has ensured high value for his rookie cards.
The July Beckett Baseball Card Monthly suggests that a mint '82 Donruss or Fleer would sell for $27, Topps for $39 and Topps Traded for $65. (Printing deadlines mean that these prices may be at least a month old when the magazine is published.)
The trend on Ripken rookie cards is up, and they are consistently selling over "book."
"Cal Ripkens are flying out of here," says Chuck Hoffman of Doubleplay Sportscards in Pasadena. "He just got on the cover of Tuff Stuff, and I've sold a dozen." He adds that on Sportsnet, a national computer network, a man in New York was offering to buy '82 Topps Traded Ripkens at double Beckett ($130).
Mike Flis of Straightaway Center in Glen Burnie says: "We used to be able to swap with [dealers in] Detroit and the West Coast. Not now with this card. He's got a nationwide draw."
Tom Blair of Jay's Sports Connection in Towson, which is also on Sportsnet, has noticed the same thing. "It seems like every week that card goes up. It's not just a local phenomenon," he says. "[Local] demand's not up, because he's always been in demand."
"His cards have always been warm, but now they're hot," says Don Bevans of All Star Cards in Baltimore. "We can't keep them in the store."
In Ripken's boyhood home of Aberdeen, he's still a favorite son. "We sell quite a few," says Jerry Schweiger of Hit & Run Baseball Cards, "but this year it's really picked up. People come in, and then they come in and buy another."
"Cals are going out as fast as any card we've ever had," says Mike Tanner of Baseball Card Outlet in Dundalk. "We put out one of each of the rookie cards every Monday . . . and they only last a day."
"Anything with Ripken on it is popular," says Bob "Robbie" Davis of Robbie's First Base in Timonium. "I've got a list of people waiting for me to find ['82 Topps Tradeds]."
Demand is pushing up the price of his second-year cards.
For collectors whose budgets cannot accommodate '83s and '82s (which are mostly over $10 and ranging past $100), newer cards are popular.
"The kids are just trying to work their way back from the 25-cent cards, the '89s," says Hoffman.
Upper Deck's licensing agreement with the NBA, signed last week, makes it the only card company with agreements with all four major sports leagues. . . . Packs of Upper Deck high-number baseball cards may include randomly inserted bonus cards: a nine-card Hank Aaron set (of which 2,500 cards are autographed) and commemorative cards of Nolan Ryan and Rickey Henderson. This year Upper Deck high-number cards will not be issued in a set; they will be available only in factory sets and packs.
July 13, baseball card show, Carrolltowne Mall, Sykesville, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., 549-6269.
July 14, baseball card show, Glen Burnie Elks Hall, Severn, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., 922-8366.
July 14, baseball card show, Towson Quality Inn, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.