Specifically using the layout of the first six cards of the 1982 Topps Baseball set (Highlights), each card in the Cal Ripkin Jr. throwback series commemorates a milestone of his milestone rich career. The cards are numbered 72-78 in the larger throwback series.
72 – 1982 Rookie of the Year
At the age of 21, Cal Ripken Jr quickly established that his call was not a cup of coffee. With a batting line of .264/.317/.475, Ripken was awarded the Rookie of the Year award and finished 30th in MVP voting. He was the Player of the Week in June, ranked 7th in the American League for outs made, and 5th in range factor among shortstops. He posted a 1.4 dWAR, 4.1 oWAR, and a 47 RAR in 160 games.
73 – 1983 World Series
On their path to the 1983 World Series, the Baltimore Orioles were lucky to have Cal Ripken Jr. in their lineup. The sophomore put up a .400/.500/.533 batting line in the four-game ALCS with an OPS of 1.033. He went 6 for 15, with two walks, two doubles, and an HBP.
His World Series numbers weren’t quite as impressive but it can be argued that the 1983 Major League Player of the Year, AL MVP, 1983 September Player of the Month, Silver Slugger did more than his fair share to help get Baltimore to the postseason. He ranked 1st in WAR (8.2), runs scored (121), hits (211), and extra base hits (76).
74 – 1991 All Star MVP/Regular Season MVP
Cal Ripken Jr. appeared in the All-Star game in every season but his rookie year so by 1991, when he received the All-Star MVP award, he was on his ninth trip to the Midsummer Classic. He also managed to get a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger award that same season and ranked first in WAR (11.5) oWar (9.2), dWAR (3.4), extra base hits (85), assists (495), putouts (267), and shortstop fielding percentage (.986). All of these stats would be reason enough to award him with MVP but he also ranked in the top 10 in virtually every other offensive and defensive metric in 1991.
75 – 1995 Breaks the “Streak”
Nobody who was a follower of baseball fan was unaware of the history Cal Ripken Jr. was destined to make in 1995 as he approached the longest streak of consecutive games in the history of baseball. On September 6, 1995, in front of a crowd that included the sitting president and vice president, Ripken broke the 56 year old record held by Lou Gehrig, appearing in 2,131 games. He received a 22-minute standing ovation that included both dugouts, all four umps, a sold-out stadium, and, probably, a fair share of people watching at home.
He would eventually play 501 more consecutive games and end his streak at 2,632 in 1998. There is not currently an active player in the top 30 in terms of consecutive games and the swing between first and 30th is 2,113 games so it is unlikely that anyone currently playing will come close to Ripken’s record.
76 – 2007 Hall of Fame Induction
In 2007, with 98.5% of the vote, Cal Ripken Jr. was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Ripken was a 19 time All-Star, two time Player of the Year, two time AL MVP, two time AS MVP, and Roberto Clemente Award winner. He received eight Silver Slugger awards and two Gold Gloves all while playing with the Baltimore Orioles.
To say that he was a deserving player is an understatement of Ripken proportions. Beyond the field, Ripken has been a top-notch ambassador of the game and is probably one of the most beloved players of the modern era.
Topps Throwback Thursday cards commemorating this monumental career can be purchased online (HERE) but only until Thursday, September 15th.