The 1982 Topps Traded Cal Ripken, Jr., card had a few things going for it right off the bat.

First, Cal latched onto the Orioles’ starting shortstop job (after some time at third base) and won the American League Rookie of the Year Award that season.

Second, the baseball card hobby was starting to heat up.

Third, and maybe most importantly, that card gave Ripken his first solo Topps issue after he was forced to share the Orioles Future Stars card with Bob Bonner and Jeff Schneider in the base 1982 set.

But Cal wasn’t the first to get that multi-to-single-player treatment in the course of a single collecting season.

Why, just the year before, both Fernando Valenzuela and Tim Raines had broken free of the confines of their little three-player boxes in the 1981 Topps set to score some solo cardboard in the first standalone, boxed Traded set that fall.

But even those guys weren’t the first to turn the trick.

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That’s because waaayyyy back (in hobby terms, at least) in 1976, Willie Randolph landed on a “1976 ROOKIE INFIELDERS” card (#592) with Dave McKay, Jerry Royster, and Roy Staiger in Topps’ base set.

Randolph earned that honor heading into his age-21 season by virtue of a strong 1975 season with the Triple-A Charleston Charlies and a 30-game call-up with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Ah, but the Bucs traded Randolph that December along with Ken Brett and Dock Ellis to the Yankees, in exchange for Doc Medich (chortle, chortle).

And the Yanks?

They plugged in young Willie as their starting second baseman, and he helped them all the way to the World Series, where the Bombers were swept into winter by the last of the great Big Red Machine teams.

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Towards the end of Topps’ production run, though, they began inserting “traded” cards featuring 44 players who had changed teams to late to be reflected with their new clubs before the first batches of cards went out.

Randolph made that cut, too, and though his Bombers’ cap was of necessity airbrushed onto his head, that Traded card features a sort of majestic head shot of the dude who stuck around the Majors for 18 years.

And, if Randolph ever makes some noise with the Modern Era Committee of Hall of Fame voters, this beaut of a card just might get some ferocious hobby love, too.

It was, after all, the first of its kind.

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