Lost Your Baseball Cards? Cal Ripken Wants to Help

Cal Ripken's 1987 Topps Baseball card.
Source: Topps
Cal Ripken's 1987 Topps Baseball card.

Cal Ripken finally has a way to get back the four shoe boxes full of baseball cards his mother threw away when he was a kid.

The Hall of Famer has teamed up with baseball card manufacturer The Topps Company for its Million Card Giveaway, a promotion designed to revive slumping baseball card sales and bring back interest to the collecters' items.

"It sort of is a throwback [to the] way that people used to collect cards," Ripken said of the program, dubbed the way to get back the cards your mom threw out.

Through the initative, Topps will include one code in every six packs of its baseball cards. If collectors receive a code, they can log onto the contest Web site and enter the nine-digit key to see which card they won.

If it wasn't the one they were hoping for, they can then try to make a trade with other contest winners.

Among the 38,000 varieties of cards are a 1957 Hank Aaron; a 1953 Jackie Robinson; and Ripken's own rookie card, which is valued at around $200, said Warren Friss, vice president and general manager of Topps.

The most valuable card available is the Mickey Mantle rookie card, which has sold at around $250,000 in its vintage form. Though Ripken said this card would be his first pick today, he said that as a kid, his favorite cards were of fellow Oriole Brooks Robinson.

"I collected them, put them in my bike spokes, put them in shoe boxes, put rubber bands around them," he said. "I abused the heck out of them, but we used them as resources."

Though the main focus of the campaign is aimed at adults, Friss said it also has the intent of including today's youth, by having parents show their children the cards they had when they were kids. The company also created a children's card game — Topps Attax — to garner interest from young people.

Along with serving as a way to bring back cards' nostalgic popularity, Ripken said the initiative is also a good way to shift the focus away from the "black cloud" that has surrounded the game in recent years, when accusations and confessions of steroid use have become the norm.

"There's all kinds of ways to reconnect to the game; certainly when you focus [on] what happens in between the white lines that's a great first step," he said. "It really does reignite some of those feelings that you had years ago, and it really connects you almost in a purer sort of way."