The Dugout│Eight Most Valuable Cal Ripken Jr. Cards
The Dugout│Eight Most Valuable Cal Ripken Jr. Cards

The Dugout│Eight Most Valuable Cal Ripken Jr. Cards

Cal Ripken, Jr. is one of the best shortstops to set foot on the baseball field, and he has the sportscards to show it. We’ve compiled a list of the best Ripken cards to watch out for.

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Sports Cards



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Long Term Growth

Cal Ripken, Jr. is an absolute Baseball Hall of Fame legend, and his rookie cards have become hot commodities among sports card collectors and investors. We've rounded up some of the best Ripken rookie cards with potentially high returns.

But first, why sports cards?  These simple slips of signed glory capture images of our favorite athletes and their stats, often becoming valuable pieces of history. The market for sports cards is on the rise and projected to reach $13 billion by 2025.

Baseball fans know Cal Ripken Jr. is a legend, playing a record-breaking 2,632 consecutive games, boasting 19 All-Star appearances, two MVP awards, and two Gold Gloves.

It's not just about collecting for the love of the game (we're totally on board with that, too). The potential return on investment for the right cards can be astronomical—we're talking a cool $5.2 million for a 2003-2004 LeBron James card.

Of course, not every card will bring home the big bucks. But knowing when to buy and sell and choosing the right cards is like playing the stock market—just with more images of buff athletes.

Who is Cal Ripken Jr.?

Let's take a moment to appreciate Cal Ripken Jr., a true force to reckon with. This world series champion shortstop played an awesome 2,632 consecutive games—that's every game for more than 16 years, breaking Lou Gehrig's record of 2,130 straight games played.

Ripken finished his amazing career with 3,184 hits, 431 homers, and 1,695 RBIs. He even broke some cool records, like most home runs by a shortstop (345) and most doubles by a right-handed hitter (603).

Ripken's 19 All-Star appearances, two American League MVP awards, and two Gold Glove awards are solid testimony to his prowess on the field. He's had a huge impact on baseball, so it's only natural for his rookie cards to be in high demand.

Most valuable Cal Ripken Jr. rookie cards to invest in

Collectors and investors have seen increasing value in Cal Ripken Jr.'s rookie cards due to their iconic designs, a rarity in mint condition, and his status as one of baseball's greatest shortstops. Keep an eye out for these eight standout cards.

1. 1982 Topps Cal Ripken Jr. #21

  • Price Range: $10 to $1,800
  • Highest Sale Price: 4,100 (April 2021)
  • PSA 10 Supply: 545
  • Brand: Topps Future Stars

The Orioles Future Stars 1982 Topps card featuring Bob Bonner, Cal Ripken, and Jeff Schneider could fetch up to $1,800.

If you collect baseball cards, you may know the famous 1982 Topps Baseball set with 792 cards. The Orioles "Future Stars" card featuring Ripken, Bob Bonner, and Jeff Schneider stands out. You can buy one of these graded PSA 9 from Goldin for an all-in price of $114.

With only 338 in PSA 10 condition out of 24,150 submitted, it's incredibly rare. The legendary design with stripes and a facsimile signature adds to its appeal.

2.  1982 Donruss Cal Ripken rookie card #405

  • Price Range: $7 to $700
  • Highest Sale Price: $2,853 (March 2023)
  • PSA 10 Supply: 686
  • Brand: Donruss

The 1982 Donruss Cal Ripken Jr. #405 card goes for as much as $700.

The 1982 Donruss Cal Ripken Jr. #405 rookie card has a clean-looking portrait with an affordable price range for collectors of all levels. 

Throughout his career that spanned 21 years, Cal Ripken Jr. played for the Baltimore Orioles and held positions as both a shortstop and third baseman. He established multiple records and earned numerous accolades throughout his journey with the team.

The most valuable Donruss Ripken RC #405 was sold for $2,853. The impact of the third baseman is one of the reasons why these cards will retain value over time.

3.  1982 Fleer Cal Ripken Jr. #176 

  • Price Range: $4 to $1,075
  • Highest Sale Price: $7,300 (March 2023)
  • PSA 10 Supply: 307
  • Brand: Fleer

The 1982 Fleer Cal Ripken Jr. #176 card fetched $7,300 in March 2023.

The Cal Ripken Jr. Fleer card from the 80s is iconic, outshining even the Pete Rose and Lee Smith rookies. Though it seems plain with its orange border and nameplate, the subdued design makes it recognizable.

The reverse side's multi-colored design features Ripken's personal info and stats dating back to his Minor League days and adding to the card’s value. Centering issues can make finding a PSA 10-graded card challenging, but if you score a well-centered one, it’s a gem worth holding on to.

4.  1982 Topps Traded Cal Ripken Jr. #98T 

  • Price Range: $78 to $5,500
  • Highest Sale Price: $20,101 (February 2021)
  • PSA 10 Supply: 404
  • Brand: Topps

A Gem Mint Cal Ripken Jr. #98T card sold for $20,101 in February 2021, making it the most expensive one ever.

The Cal Ripken Jr.1982 Topps Traded card is a hot item and the most coveted of Cal's cards. It's part of an exclusive set featuring only Cal. Collectors love Topps, and the traded version is super popular. However, the card's low-quality cardboard makes it prone to damage. Despite this, getting it graded with a high base value is a good move.

There aren't many PSA 10s around, making it rare and attractive to collectors. One even sold for more than $20,000. So, investing in a graded 1982 Topps Traded Cal Ripken Jr. card is smart for anyone looking to score a valuable and in-demand collectible.

5. 1983 Topps Cal Ripken Jr. #163

  • Price Range: $4 to $375
  • Highest Sale Price: $750 (February 2021)
  • PSA 10 Supply: 447
  • Brand: Topps

The 1983 Topps Cal Ripken Jr. #163 is one of Ripken's most sought-after cards, currently valued up to $375.

The 1983 Topps baseball card set was loaded with stars and Hall of Famers like Tony Gwynn, Wade Boggs, and Ryne Sandberg. Cal Ripken Jr.’s card is also one of this set's most sought-after collectibles.

The look and feel of this card are striking, featuring a Cal Ripken knocking the ball into play. This is one of the low-end cards compared to others on the list. You may get a mint piece at a very affordable price.

6. 1984 Fleer Cal Ripken Jr. #17

  • Price Range: $6 to $80
  • Highest Sale Price: $200 (January 2021)
  • PSA 10 Supply: 424
  • Brand: Fleer

In January 2021, the 1984 Cal Ripken, Jr. card sold on eBay for $200.
Source: ebay

The card depicts Cal Ripken, Jr. skillfully working the ball into play and is a must-have for his fans. However, it falls into the affordable category and might differ from the other options. While the sales volumes for this card are moderate, its sleek design makes it a fitting addition to any Cal Ripken fan's collection.

7. 1984 Topps Cal Ripken Jr. #490 

  • Price Range: $3 to $200
  • Highest Sale Price: $355 (January 2022) 
  • PSA 10 Supply: 492
  • Brand: Topps

Prices for 1984 Topps Cal Ripken, Jr. #490 cards vary from $3 to over $350.
Source: Sportscardinvestor

The number of wins for the Orioles reduced from 98 in 1983 to 85 in 1984, but Ripken exhibited his best form playing at the highest level. Ripken is still considered one of the best shortstops to play the game.

This collection had two Cal Ripken cards, numbered 400 and 490. Although the production numbers for the set were high, it got a lot of love from the community, and the supply of mint pieces has reduced significantly over the years, which might make Topps Cal Ripken, Jr. #490 a scarce commodity.

8. 1985 Donruss Cal Ripken Jr. #14

  • Price Range: $13 to $53
  • Highest Sale Price: $87 (January 2021)
  • PSA 10 Supply: 36
  • Brand: Donruss Diamond Kings

A PSA-10 graded 1985 Cal Ripken Jr.'s #14 (Diamond Kings) card sold for $87 in January 2021.

A card’s value often skyrockets when it's rare, especially when linked to a legendary shortstop like Cal Ripken. This card showcases a cool hand-drawn image of the ‘Iron Man’ himself. 

With limited PSA 10s available, it has become a hot item for collectors. The one-of-a-kind art style, combined with the scarcity of PSA-10s, makes it a fantastic investment opportunity for enthusiasts.

Are Cal Ripken Jr. rookie cards a good investment?

Baseball fans know Cal Ripken Jr. is a legend, playing a record-breaking 2,632 consecutive games, boasting 19 All-Star appearances, two MVP awards, and two Gold Gloves. That's why his rookie cards are a hot ticket for collectors.

Land a mint-condition Ripken rookie card and you could be holding onto a valuable gem worth thousands. If you're a fan, consider adding some signed cards to your collection—rookies from Topps, Fleer, or Upper Deck can be solid bets. While keeping in mind the risks, check out some signed Cal Ripken Jr. cards and you might stumble upon a winner.