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1995 Game-Used Ensemble from Cal Ripken's Record-Breaking 2,131st Game
Starting Bid - $2,500, Sold For - $4,700
On September 6, 1995, Cal Ripken Jr. broke the record many thought could never be broken when he surpassed the fabled "Iron Horse," Lou Gehrig, to become the all-time leader in consecutive games played at 2,131. For those who witnessed the event, either live, or on television, it was a moment never to be forgotten, as one of the game's universally recognized "good guys" received perhaps the longest and most heartfelt ovation in history during his celebratory "victory" lap around the stadium. One of the players on the field during that momentous occasion was Orioles left fielder Mark Smith, who was playing in just his first Major League season. This significant uniform ensemble was worn by Smith during Ripken's record-breaking 2,131st game and is comprised of his jersey, glove, cleats, and batting gloves, as well as a game-used ball that Smith caught while while making a diving catch in the top of the seventh inning. Ideally, not only has Smith personally inscribed each piece, noting its game-used status from Ripken's record-breaking game, but two of the items are also inscribed to Smith by Cal Ripken Jr. 1) Diving-Catch Ball from Game #2,131. This is the actual ball that Mark Smith caught while making a diving catch in the top of the seventh inning off the bat of Garret Anderson. Balls from both Cal Ripken's record-tying and record-breaking games were specially designed by the league so as to identify them as having been used in those games. This official American League (Budig) ball bears the special "Cal Ripken 2,130-2,131" logo on a side panel and display moderate soiling indicative of its game use. Smith has inscribed the ball "Mark Smith - Game Used 2131" on the sweet spot, while Ripken has personalized the ball to Smith on a side panel by writing "Smitty - Nice Catch! - Cal Ripken Jr. - #2131." Both blue-ink inscriptions grade "10." The ball is accompanied by another important piece of documentation that further supports its game-used provenance. Many collectors are not aware of the tight security that was in place at the stadium that night. In order to thwart the pilferage of game-used items, the Baltimore police were actually stationed in the clubhouse and were in charge of making sure that any item leaving the clubhouse was properly documented. To accomplish that, it was mandatory that every item be signed out by the respective officers on duty. As required by those special procedures, this ball is accompanied by its official Baltimore police property tag, which identifies the ball as "Game 2131-Mark Smith's Diving Catch Ball - 7th Inning," signed by the two police sergeants on duty that night. 2) Mark Smith's Baltimore Orioles Home Jersey. This jersey was worn by Smith in both Cal Ripken's record-tying and record-breaking games. The white knit jersey is lettered "Orioles" on the front and features the number "34" on the front and reverse. "Smith" is lettered on the reverse above the number. All letters and numerals are appliquéd in black-on-orange tackle twill. Situated on the left front tail are a "Rawlings 46" label, a "95" year tag, and a flag tag reading "1 inch Extra Length." The jersey is all original, with no alterations, and displays light wear. Smith has inscribed the jersey in black Sharpie (grading "9") on the front: "Game Used #2130-2131 - Ripken's record games - Mark Smith - 34 - 1995." 3) Mark Smith's Glove. The Mizuno "MWV-710P" right-handed fielder's glove features Smith's name embroidered in black stitching on the back of the pinky finger. It has been inscribed in black Sharpie (grading "9/10") on the back of the glove by both Smith ("Game Used #2130-2131 - Mark Smith 34") and Cal Ripken Jr. ("Smitty - Nice Catch in the Big Game! - Cal Ripken Jr. 2131"). The glove displays moderate wear. 4) Mark Smith's Cleats. Pair of black Mizuno high-top cleats. Each shoe is identically inscribed by Smith in gold paint pen (grading "8") on the side: "Game Used - 2130-2131 - Mark Smith." Moderate-to-heavy wear. 5) Mark Smith's Batting Gloves. Pair of well-worn black Nike batting gloves, each inscribed in silver paint pen (grading "7") on the reverse. The right-hand glove reads "Game 2131 - Mark Smith," the other "Mark Smith - 2131." Both gloves also display Smith's uniform number in black marker on the white Nike "swoosh" logo. 6) Mark Smith's Hat. This hat was worn by Smith in Ripken's record-tying 2,130th game. The black wool cap features the Orioles team logo on the front and both Smith's name and number ("Smith 34") written in black marker on the underside of the brim. A New Era "5950" label appears in the headband, as does an "Authentic Diamond Collection" label and "7 1/2" size tag. Inscribed by Smith in silver paint pen (grading "8") on the top of the brim "Game Used 2130 - Mark Smith." Light wear. The collection is also accompanied by a letter from the original recipient of these items, who obtained them directly from Smith. Total: 6 items (ball, jersey, glove, pair of cleats, pair of batting gloves, and hat). LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $2,500. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $4,700
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