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1980-1983 Cal Ripken Jr. Rochester Redwings Pro Model Bat
Starting Bid - $1,500.00, Sold For - $3,818.75
Louisville Slugger signature model "P72" bat dating from Cal Ripken Jr.'s 1981 season with the Rochester Redwings, Baltimore's International League affiliate. This is a miracle bat dating from the dawn of one of the most spectacular and enduring careers in the history of professional baseball. The two-toned bat displays extensive use including numerous ball marks, deeply embedded stitch marks, cleat marks, and a five-inch crack in the handle. A wrap of vintage white tape extends ten inches up the handle. The number "5," which was Ripken's uniform number in Rochester, is written on the knob in vintage black marker. Factory records document only two shipments of bats matching the offered bat's specifications to Ripken in 1981: one on 8/6/81 and the other on 10/20/81. The first order was noted as having been sent to Rochester. That information, combined with the fact that this bat bears his Rochester uniform number on the knob, identifies the offered bat as originating from the first shipment. Ripken was voted the International Rookie of the Year in 1981. The future Hall of Famer batted .288 with 23 home runs and 75 RBI that summer before being called up to the Orioles for good in September. This is an extraordinary and very historically significant factory-documented minor league bat from the Cal Ripken Jr.'s earliest days in professional baseball. Length: 35 inches. Weight: 36 ounces. Graded A8.5 by MEARS (5 point base grade, plus 3 points added for use and another half point for the vintage number "5" on the knob). To date, this is one of only two Cal Ripken Jr. pro model bats to have been graded A8.5 by MEARS, with only one grading higher (a 1995 example graded A9). LOA from Dave Bushing and Troy Kinunen/MEARS. Reserve $1,500. Estimate $3,000/$5,000.
ADDENDUM: The following additional notes have been supplied by MEARS:
Louisville Slugger Personal Player Bat Records show Cal Ripken Jr. ordered bats consistent with the model, finish, length and weight on:
Both these records support the issuance of the bat in accordance with his time with the Rochester Red Wings. The bat was dated to his time with the Red Wings due to the presence of his uniform #5 on the knob, his correct number for his minor league team. Additional records show Ripken was shipped P72 model bats with the hickory finish after his days in Rochester for his use during his major league debut with the Baltimore Orioles. Bats from these orders would most likely be labeled with his major league uniform #8. We are dating this bat to the 8-6-81 or earlier order due to the presence of his minor league uniform number (#5). Ripken made his major league debut on August 10th, 1981 after being called up on August 8th. While only being a Red Wing for two days after the 8-6-81 order, this bat was most likely from the original 3-19-81 order.
Regarding the 3-19-81 order, it makes the most sense this bat was from that first batch and used during the time until the August 6th callup to the Orioles. Although logistically possible, it may have originated from the 8-6-81 order as it was still two full days before his ML callup. But, for that to be the case, he would have had to of received the bat within two days of its ordering, numbering it with his minor league uniform number, then bringing it with him to the Orioles for his August 8th call up and August 10th debut. He wore number 8 immediately after being called up so it is unlikely he would have labeled his bats with his outdated minor league number.
The finish of the bat is hickory, which is supported by the ordering records. At first appearance the bat appears to be two toned as the handle has been carefully sanded to its original wood finish. The full hickory effect can be seen when examining the handle, which remains unaltered and exhibits its original hickory factory finish. This is a true pre-major league factory documented game bat. Majority of use is above the barrel label. SOLD FOR $3,818.75
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