A battle-worn testament to an unparalleled work ethic and a tradition-laden franchise, this Camden Yards apparel was donned and autographed by Hall of Fame icon Cal Ripken, Jr. during the 1998 campaign that saw him complete his untouchable run of 2,632 consecutive games.
In the coveted and certainly limited realm of Ripken gamers, this Oriole Park attire is a poignant reminder of a Maryland-born hero's steady contributions to a team whose fortunes fluctuated during his remarkable career.
The white knit button-down garment features "Orioles" sewn across the chest in black-on-orange twill, while a lengthy paraph accents the script-style mascot name. On the lower right front, Ripken's sizable black marker penning projects every bit of ("8") strength and clarity.
In block style, "8" is sewn to the back and "RIPKEN" is arched in like fashion to a name plate just above. On the lower left front, the since-retired number "8" is sewn in orange-on-black twill. Black piping lines the collar, button path and sleeves, while the ornithologically correct and short-lived bird logo (a version showcased in 1998 only) adorns the left sleeve.
The face of the franchise and MVP during the Birds' 1983 world championship season, Ripken continued to anchor a team whose success peaked and waned over his lengthy career.
As Ripken suited up in this particular jersey, both the club's "Bird" and "bankroll" underwent overhauls. The Bird was the Orioles' fourth of five different designs featured during Ripken's career. The team's payroll, meanwhile, tipped the ledgers at a whopping $70,408,144, marking the last time that a team other than the New York Yankees boasted of the game's highest aggregate salary.
Through it all, of course, Ripken was his steady self, mixing 14 home runs into a .271 batting average. And while he reportedly contemplated ending his unfathomable consecutive games record, Ripken re-considered after the O's won 14 of 15 immediately following the All-Star break, thus keeping aloft Wild Card hopes.
It wasn't until September 20, with Baltimore 28-1/2 games out of 1st place and five games behind in the Wild Card chase (with just eight games remaining), that Ripken stunned the baseball world by sitting out the Orioles' home finale.
Through thick and thin team fortunes, Ripken's own storyline was always defined by hustle, perseverance and selfless contribution - attributes instilled by his hard-nosed father and mentors who embodied "The Oriole Way."
Rounding out the jersey's "ironclad" details and authenticity, the left front tail is home to a "Russell Athletic" size "48" label and a "1998" strip tag with accompanying flap tags respectively denoting "2" EXTRA LENGTH" and "100% polyester." The all-original Birdland artifact shows moderate wear with puckering about the manufacturer's label.
Full photo LOAs from: Phil Wood (attesting to jersey's authenticity) and the Baltimore Orioles; and JSA (for autograph).