Rumor has it that Cal Ripken, Jr. was very protective of his equipment during his career. So, by post-1980 standards, Ripken gamers are tougher to find than bats used by many of his contemporaries. By different means, professional model bats have their way of making it out of the clubhouse or the bat rack. Sometimes, the players can be generous with their equipment. Other times, the equipment is poached and finds its way into the hobby without the player’s knowledge or permission.
Ripken was not only guarded about his bats, but he was also one of the small percentage of players that actually kept a decent amount of his game-used equipment from his playing days. Once in a while, collectors may encounter bats that are signed by "Iron Man" and inscribed as "Gamer" on the barrel. These are bats that originated from Ripken’s personal collection. As expected, bats featuring this special inscription often sell for premiums.
Ripken did use both Louisville Slugger and Rawlings/Adirondack bats during his career, but he clearly preferred the former. Ripken had a very early signature model (1978), dating to the minor leagues, with Louisville Slugger (H&B). In addition, Ripken ordered many bats with either a two-toned or solid, dark-colored appearance, but some – especially earlier examples – were of the more traditional blonde tone.
Two key Ripken characteristics to look for are cleat marks on the upper barrel and the style of his uniform number "8" on the knobs of his gamers. Ripken was known for banging his cleats with his bats while at the plate, so some heavily-used bats have a plethora of cleat marks along the barrel. Furthermore, the style of the "8" often seen on the knobs of his bats are of the snowman variety, like those seen on Yogi Berra bats. It is usually large and appears like two circles placed on top of each other. On occasion, the "8" is circled in marker as well. Keep in mind that a good portion of his bats do not feature the uniform number, as Ripken was inconsistent about adding his "8" to the knobs.
Calvin Edwin Ripken, Jr. (August 24, 1960 - ) refined both the shortstop position - at 6’4", he was one of the tallest ever at that position – and the "everyday player", demolishing Lou Gehrig’s 56-year old consecutive games streak of 2,131, finishing with a seemingly untouchable 2,632 games to become baseball’s "Iron Man." Ripken possessed all facets of the game, combining agility, power and durability; Ripken holds the record for most home runs by a shortstop and the highest single season fielding percentage at that position. Cal played his entire career with the Baltimore Orioles (1981-2001) earning the 1982 American League Rookie of the Year Award, two Gold Gloves, eight Silver Slugger Awards and two AL Most Valuable Player Awards (1983, 1992). Cal had a career year in 1983 leading the league in hits (211), runs (121) and doubles (47) while batting .318 and capturing his first MVP Award. The 19-time All-Star was MLB All-Star Game MVP twice (1991, 2001) and he was a member of the 1983 World Series champion Orioles. Ripken, heroically, hit a home run in his record-setting 2,131st consecutive game and in the final All-Star game of his career in 2001. Cal Ripken retired in 2007 posting a .276 career batting average with 3,184 hits, 1,647 runs scored, 1,695 RBI and 431 home runs. Calvin Edwin Ripken, Jr. was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007.
Approximate Value: $2500