If you glean nothing else from what you're about to read, let it be this: Cal Ripken Jr. is a hoarder.
Yes, by his own admission, the Iron Man has been hoarding his Orioles game-used gloves for the past 40 years. Which explains why so few have ever reached the auction block—most notably one that sold through Sotheby's for over $11,000 in 2020. We believe the offered example to be superior, if not the single finest Ripken game glove known to exist. It showcases a virtually never-seen embroidery of Ripken's full name to go along with his signature and the heavy overall usage wear. Plus it's style matched to 1994-95 Baltimore Orioles photos as shown below. Not to mention that this time span includes his historic surpassing of Lou Gehrig with consecutive game #2,131!
According to the MEARS LOA, "The glove originated from Elrod Hendricks to our consignor. Game wear is incredible and we have supplied numerous photographs of Cal wearing this exact style glove with his finger through the Fastback hole that now has a ton of wear. We showed this glove to Cal Ripken Jr., and he stated it was a model made for him but insists that he has all of his game gloves. We are not about to argue this point with Cal but it is his model glove, made especially for him, with a letter from the manufacturer and shows heavy game wear along with photos of him wearing this exact model glove. We can prove it is a specially made glove expressly manufactured for Cal. As to whether Cal has each and every glove sent and used by him from this era, that is his call. This glove sure shows a season's worth of wear and is perfectly broken in. Given that almost no professional model gloves of Cal's have hit the market given that he has been keeping them, this is a very rare opportunity to get a game model glove made exclusively for Cal by Rawlings in 1994-95."
Beside contacting Ripken himself, MEARS also reached out to Rawlings staff member Bob Clevenhagen (as alluded to above) who had a hand in the manufacturing process and confirmed the glove as Ripken's own. "We started the embroidery in 94," Clevenhagen wrote. "The dot was there after the Jr. For retail, I put 2 dots but we had no place to put the date code and there was no need to be concerned about a warranty issue on a player's glove so we didn't worry about the dots. The first couple of years I had the embroidery done on the outside so might be able to date from that. [This is] one of the first, probably 94 or 95. As I still have my original embroidery machine and it doesn't have the letter 'C'. Very likely his glove as we were not even close to producing them for retail."
Full LOA from MEARS. Auction LOA from JSA for the autograph.