I finally tallied up all of my Cal Ripken, Jr. cards tonight, and I have 102. Without checking, I can tell you that the Iron Man is far and away the most frequent subject of my collection. I could spend nearly three and one-half months featuring nothing but Cal cards in this blog. And yet, there's so much more out there. That's to be expected with somebody like #8, who was the face of the Oriole franchise for two full decades, and hasn't really been replaced in the years since his retirement. His pursuit and eventual overtaking of Lou Gehrig's consecutive games played record made him one of the hottest names in the hobby in the mid-90's, and he endured into the 21st Century, when the card companies lost their fool minds and started printing dozens of slight variations of a player's card.
I've seen firsthand just how far away my own Cal Ripken, Jr. card collection is from complete; another collector I've met has narrowed his focus in recent years and now chases only the cards of the O's Hall of Fame shortstop. He has a basement that's adorned with scores of slabbed Ripken cards, and several binders and boxes full of just the Iron Man. (Yes, he is pursuing each and every variation of the nettlesome Topps Tek set!) This impressive collection is thousands strong, and even it is not terribly close to 100% completion.
No matter how piecemeal my own stash of Cal cards might seem, I'm proud that it includes the ridiculous oddball card I've featured today. I'm not sure who made it when, though the bio does feature his 1993 stat line and indicates that he's on track to break Gehrig's record in early 1995, barring serious (emphasis theirs, which amuses me a bit) injury or a prolonged players strike. And hey, what are the odds of something like that? Oops. Well, he had to wait a few months longer, but Cal made it after all. There are no trademarks or manufacturer names on front or back, and as you can see the image is poor (and off-center, which you may not be able to see). For all I know, one of Cal's embittered high school teammates in Aberdeen could have printed these up on a high-tech (for 1994) printer in his basement. But it's mine now, and it's just plain fun. I think so, anyway, and that's what matters.