‘The 40/40 Club’ – 1980’s – Card #1
Cal Ripken, Jr. – 1982 Topps
Cal Ripken personifies what baseball is all about. The game is a team sport and there is no better player to represent the game than Cal. While his individual statistics are comparable with the game’s best from his era, it is his image that makes him my choice as the #1 baseball player to debut during the 1980’s.
Cal played his entire career as a member of the Baltimore Orioles. His 21 seasons as the team’s leader led to his love for the city and people of Baltimore and they reciprocated that love right back to Cal. Ripken is known as one of the classiest guys in the game and spends much of his time, even years after his retirement, working on making the game better for the next generation.
Cal is probably best known for ‘The Streak’. During the 1995 season, Cal broke a 56-year old record by playing in 2,130 consecutive games. In easier numbers, Cal didn’t miss a single game for more than 13 baseball seasons. The streak ended at 2,632 and will likely stand for centuries to come. His dedication to his team, the sport, and his health made Cal an easy guy to cheer for.
Cal Ripken has collected 3,184 hits over the course of his career. He has a lifetime batting average of .276, with 5 seasons hitting above the .300 mark. He has also amassed 431 home runs, 1,695 RBI, and has scored 1,647 runs.
Cal Ripken won the Rookie of the Year award in 1982. In that year, he hit .264 with 28 home runs and 93 RBI. The following season he won the MVP award for the first time as he went .318/27/102. In his finest season, back in 1991, Ripken won his second MVP award as he hit .323 while crushing 34 home runs and driving in 114 runs. He also scored 99 runs, collected 210 hits, and 46 doubles. In total Cal Ripken finished in the Top 20 for the MVP award 7 times.
Cal was also a 19-time All-star, an 8-time Silver Slugger award winner, and a 2-time Gold Glove winner.
Cal Ripken has played in and won 1 World Series championship. In 1983, his Orioles team won the title in 5 games. During that match-up, Cal batted just .167 while collecting 3 hits in 18 at-bats.