1980 Charlotte O's Police Orange Border Complete SGC-Graded Set (25) Including Highest-Graded SGC NM 84 Cal Ripken Minor-League Rookie

Sold For: $12,000

Auction Year: 2016 fall

Lot: 1248

Item Year: 1980

Category: Postwar Baseball Cards (1948-present)

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Presented is an extraordinary complete 25-card set of 1980 Charlotte O's orange-border cards, one of the rarest minor-league issues ever produced. This complete set is notable for its inclusion of future Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. on his first professional trading card, which precedes his Topps rookie card by two years. Each card in this complete set is graded and encapsulated by SGC. To date, BGS, PSA, and SGC have combined to grade a total of eighty-one cards (of all players) from this series. Based on the data from the combined Population Reports, only two complete sets could be assembled from the graded population (one with PSA and one with SGC). This remarkable offering is the ONLY complete set ever assembled and graded by SGC! The 1980 Charlotte Orioles were featured on two promotional card sets that year, both of which are similar in design but remarkably different in distribution and difficulty. One set, sponsored by local television station WBTV, featured twenty-eight team members on blue-bordered cards. Complete sets were distributed at the ballpark. The second set, offered here, featured twenty-five orange-bordered cards and was produced in much smaller quantities. Sponsored by the Charlotte Police Department, it was distributed on a card-by-card basis, from local police officers, and was not made available as a complete set. The incredible rarity of a complete set comes as no surprise: cards were issued one at a time to children, making it a set that had to be assembled, and many of the depicted players were not desirable "stars," which could potentially lead to an unequal distribution and demand for more popular players, such as Ripken Jr. The extremely thin stock on which the cards are printed (each of the cards is translucent) also made it difficult to keep cards in top condition, which further distinguishes the offered set, which is 80% Near Mint or better. SGC Grading Composite: Four MINT 96: Gonzales, Huppert, Presley, and Quintana. Three NM/MT+ 92: Cole, Pensiero, and Royster. Three NM/MT 88: Denman, Fabrizio, and Shelby. Two NM+ 86: Hazewood and Neal. Eight NM 84: Anderson, Buffamoyer, Eaton, Ramirez, Ripken Jr., Smith, Welchel, and Williams. Three EX/NM 80: Carey, George, and Mendoza. One EX 60: Whitfield. One VG/EX 50: The Pepper Girls. Each card features a portrait of the depicted player, with his name, position, and team logo underneath. The reverse features a baseball tip atop a crime prevention tip, with contact information for the Charlotte Police Department underneath. All cards are bright, crisp, and clean, with centering issues or light touches of wear at the corners responsible for the few cards that grade less than Near Mint. It is hard to imagine a finer complete set of this incredibly scarce issue. To date, BGS, PSA, and SGC have combined to grade only thirty-one examples of the Ripken Jr. card. The offered card is one of only two examples graded at this level by SGC, and only two examples in the entire hobby grade higher (one PSA NM-MT 8 and one BGS NM-MT 8, the latter of which sold at public auction for more than $20,000 in 2014). This is a remarkable complete set, in unparalleled high grade, of this extraordinarily scarce minor-league issue, highlighted by one of the world's finest examples of Cal Ripken Jr.'s minor-league rookie card. Total: 25 cards. Reserve $2,500. Estimate (open).

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