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
PSA "8"Value
# of Hits
Pete Rose 1963 Topps #537
Ty Cobb 1909-11 T-206 (green back)
Hank Aaron 1954 Topps #128
Stan Musial 1948 Leaf #4
Tris Speaker 1909-11 T-206
Carl Yastrzemski 1960 Topps #148
Honus Wagner 1909-11 T-206
Paul Molitor 1978 Topps #707
Eddie Collins 1909-11 T-206
Willie Mays 1951 Bowman #305
Eddie Murray 1978 Topps #36
Napoleon Lajoie 1909-11 T-206 (portrait)
George Brett 1975 Topps #228
Paul Waner 1933 Goudey #25
Robin Yount 1975 Topps #223
Dave Winfield 1974 Topps #456
Tony Gwynn 1983 Topps #482
Rod Carew 1967 Topps #569
Lou Brock 1962 Topps #387
Wade Boggs 1983 Topps #498
Al Kaline 1954 Topps #201
Cal Ripken 1982 Topps Traded card #98
Roberto Clemente 1955 Topps #164
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 30 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 sixteen 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 numerous radio and television programs as a hobby expert including ESPN's award-winning program Outside the Lines, HBO's Real Sports and the Fox Business Network, 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. Recently, Orlando helped put together a new hobby book entitled The 100 Greatest Baseball Autographs, which was released in the summer of 2016.