Ripken's 1982 Donruss rookie is estimated at $975 in PSA 10 in the April SMR.
Ripken's 1982 Donruss rookie is estimated at $975 in PSA 10 in the April SMR.

In most cases, when a player reaches the 3,000 hit milestone, their Hall of Fame induction is insured, and turns a questionable case into a sure thing. In Cal Ripken's case, reaching 3,000 hits just added to an already unbelievable list of achievements.

Ripken has accomplished so much over the course of his career that I believe that he's going to the Hall, with or without 3,000 hits. Does a consecutive game streak record, 400 homers, two MVP's, a bunch of Gold Gloves and a Rookie of the Year award ring a bell? After tallying up Ripken's accomplishments, what does the latest achievement by the "Iron Man" mean for collectors?

Ripken's 3,000th hit enhances the demand for Ripken collectibles in a few different ways. First, Ripken memorabilia now becomes a necessary part of collections that focus on 3,000 hit club members. Collecting sportscards and memorabilia of these club members has always been a popular choice for hobbyists. Now, those who collect autographed baseballs, rookie cards or game used bats from 3,000 hit members need a Ripken piece to complete the group. Ripken items become a necessary ingredient to these collections.

Ripken collectibles will be enhanced through the elevation of his status among the all-time greats. Many feel that Ripken is already a shoe-in for the Hall of Fame. As he continues to pass the career numbers of other legendary figures, he will increase his own legendary status. When Ripken reached the 3,000 hit milestone, he also became part of another exclusive club: the 3,000 hit/400 home run club. Currently, there are only 6 other members: Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Stan Musial, Dave Winfield, Eddie Murray and Carl Yastrzemski. That's pretty good company!

Another way the recent milestone enhances Ripken collectibles is by permanently placing his name in the record books in a particular category. This ensures that future generations will be able to appreciate his greatness. Fifty years from now, after Ripken has long departed from the playing field, his name will still appear in the annual baseball guides as one of the members of the 3,000 hit club, forever etched in history. For young collectors who never got to see Ripken play, this achievement clearly places him among the best. For instance, I never got the chance to see Ernie Banks play, but I wouldn't question his place in history because the records show that he hit 512 home runs. I don't have to rely on spectator opinion or old-timer stories; the proof is in the numbers.

As far as Ripken sportscards are concerned, his selection of rookie cards remain collector favorites. Ripken appears on four different, yet very popular rookie cards. Demand varies for each one, the most desirable of them being the 1982 Topps Traded #98, which features Cal in his classic batting stance. Collectors prefer this rookie card to the regular issue Topps card #21, because Ripken is pictured alone. The regular issue Topps Ripken features him alongside two other rookies, neither of which ever became a star. The regular issue Ripken is often found off-center and, because of the unique design, the top-to-bottom centering is sometimes hard to determine. The best way is by measuring from the top of the picture and the bottom of a line near the base, a very small one located near the bottom-left of the card.

Ripken's 1982 Donruss #405 and Fleer #176 trade at about the same price levels. Each one features Ripken by himself, which is causing both examples to have started picking up steam in the market. In the past, the Topps issue was the only Ripken rookie that collectors seemed to care about, but now Donruss and Fleer are starting to close the gap on the Topps regular issue.

Ripken has always been a great signer at the ballpark and his signature has always been in high-demand. If you can't catch him at the yard, look to pay between $75-$100 for a real Ripken autograph. Ripken's game used equipment has always been very popular with hobbyists. Now that he's a member of the 3,000 hit club, his bats should gain even more popularity. Game-used bats are retailing between $900-$2,000, perhaps a small price to pay for a player who will go down in history as one of the greatest offensive shortstops of all-time.

The bottom line is that Ripken collectibles should remain very popular long after the slugging shortstop retires. Not only has Ripken accomplished so much as a player, but he also is one of the most likable personalities in sports. The 3,000 hit achievement just gives you one more reason to collect Cal's memorabilia. Whether you collect great average hitters, great sluggers, former MVP's, great fielders, great shortstops or future Hall of Famers, Ripken covers the bases.

3,000 Hit Club Rookie Card Checklist
Player
Card
PSA "8"Value
# of Hits
1
Pete Rose 1963 Topps #537
$1400
4256
2
Ty Cobb 1909-11 T-206 (green back)
$24,000
4189
3
Hank Aaron 1954 Topps #128
$3100
3771
4
Stan Musial 1948 Leaf #4
$3300
3630
5
Tris Speaker 1909-11 T-206
$2400
3514
6
Carl Yastrzemski 1960 Topps #148
$240
3419
7
Honus Wagner 1909-11 T-206
$850,000
3415
8
Paul Molitor 1978 Topps #707
$100
3319
9
Eddie Collins 1909-11 T-206
$1050
3315
10
Willie Mays 1951 Bowman #305
$7000
3283
11
Eddie Murray 1978 Topps #36
$65
3255
12
Napoleon Lajoie 1909-11 T-206 (portrait)
$2500
3242
13
George Brett 1975 Topps #228
$160
3154
14
Paul Waner 1933 Goudey #25
$2750
3152
15
Robin Yount 1975 Topps #223
$100
3142
16
Dave Winfield 1974 Topps #456
$110
3110
17
Tony Gwynn 1983 Topps #482
$50
3070
18
Rod Carew 1967 Topps #569
$350
3053
19
Lou Brock 1962 Topps #387
$275
3023
20
Wade Boggs 1983 Topps #498
$25
3010
21
Al Kaline 1954 Topps #201
$1300
3007
22
Cal Ripken 1982 Topps Traded card #98
$150
3001
23
Roberto Clemente 1955 Topps #164
$4400
3000
Note: Cobb, Collins, Lajoie, Wagner and Waner do not have nationally recognized rookie cards. The above checklist features their most popular, early sportcards from their career.
* Source: April 2000 Sportscard Market Report (SMR)
Ripken's 1990 Bowman Tiffany #255 card in PSA 10 is estimated at $50 in the SMR.
Ripken's 1990 Bowman Tiffany #255 card in PSA 10 is estimated at $50 in the SMR.
Collectors should be able to easily find many Ripken cards at  <br>various stages throughout his career.
Collectors should be able to easily find many Ripken cards at
various stages throughout his career.

Joe Orlando has been an advanced collector of sportscards and memorabilia for over 25 years. Orlando attended Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California where he studied communications and was the starting catcher for the baseball team. After a brief stint in the minor leagues, Orlando obtained a Juris Doctor from Whittier Law School in Southern California in the spring of 1999. During the last fourteen years, Orlando has authored several collecting guides and dozens of articles for Collectors Universe, Inc. Orlando has also authored two books for Collectors Universe. Orlando's first book, The Top 200 Sportscards in the Hobby, was released in the summer of 2002. His second book, Collecting Sports Legends, was released in the summer of 2008. Orlando has appeared on several radio and television programs as a hobby expert including ESPN's award-winning program Outside the Lines and HBO's Real Sports, as the featured guest. Currently, Orlando is the President of PSA and PSA/DNA, the largest trading card and sports memorabilia authentication services in the hobby. He is also Editor of the company's nationally distributed Sports Market Report, which under Orlando's direction has developed into a leading resource in the market. Orlando also contributed the foreword and last chapter to The T206 Collection: The Players and Their Stories, a 2010 release, and to The Cracker Jack Collection: Baseball's Prized Players, a 2013 release.