Ripken in the Minors

The 1981 TCMA Rochester Red Wings Cal Ripken, Jr.

The 1981 TCMA Rochester Red Wings set is the most accessible set of the 4 minor league team sets that contained at least one card of Cal Ripken, Jr. As with the other sets produced in 1981 by the TCMA Company, 3,500 sets were produced. In 1981, most all of these sets were sold through the mail. When you would receive a TCMA set, the set would typically come to you in a team bag, sometimes with a rubber band holding the cards together. The name TCMA stood for the initials of the two men that co-owned the company, Tom Collier and Michael Aronstein. Unoriginal reprint copies of this card are on the secondary market.

One of the largest manufacturers of collector issue sets was the TCMA Company, founded by the legendary collector and dealer Mike Aronstein. TCMA released their first offering, a set entitled The 1930s, in 1972, and Aronstein went on to become the king of collector issues putting out over 120 different sets throughout the 1970s and early ‘80s.


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The Checklist

The checklist for the 1981 TCMA Rochester Red Wings set (23 cards). Please note that the cards are numbered in this set:

1. Mike Boddicker

2. Bill Bonner

3. Brooks Carey

4. Tom Chism

5. Tom Eaton

6. Johnny Hale

7. Mike Hart

8. Drungo Hazewood

9. Dave Huppert

10. Kevin Kennedy

11. Dan Logan

12. Steve Luebber

13. Ed Putnam

14. Floyd Rayford

15. Cal Ripken Jr.

16. Tom Rowe

17. John Valle

18. Don Welchel

19. Larry Jones

20. Richie Bancells

21. Chris Bourjos

22. Doc Edwards

23. Dallas Williams

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1981 TCMA Rochester Red Wings Card Gallery

To see the cards of the 1981 TCMA Rochester Red Wings set, visit our 1981 TCMA Rochester Album at http://www.ripkenintheminors.com/apps/photos/album?albumid=7647605

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1981 Rochester Promo Cards

Up until the week of October 25, 2009, there were no known counterfeits involving the 1981 TCMA Rochester Red Wings card of Cal Ripken, Jr. This all changed when a seller from Grand Rivers, Kentucky, listed a pair of "1981 Rochester Red Wings Cal Ripken Promo Rookie Card(s)" (Ebay 150384365141, 370282103629). The cards were slabbed by PCA Grading (http://www.pcagrading.com) and were graded Gem Mint 10. The cards featured Cal's image from his 1981 TCMA trading card with no text on the front of the card. The back of the card had a white back with the words "Cal Ripken Jr. 1981 Rochester Red Wings Promotional Card."

Michael Aronstein is the legendary collector who established TCMA and produced Cal's 1981 Rochester Red Wings card. When asked about the authenticity of the promo cards he stated that the cards were, "not even a good scam." RITM followed up with Michael and asked the following questions:

Did TCMA produce any promotional cards of Cal Ripken, Jr., in a minor league uniform?

Was the image of Cal from the 1981 TCMA card ever used for another TCMA card?

Did TCMA ever grant permission for anyone else to use Cal's 1981 Rochester picture for any other use?

Michael responded, "NO, NO, NO"

After presenting the information to the seller, both listings were removed. However, a third copy (Ebay 120485675488) from a seller in Panama City, Florida, appeared the following week. A fourth copy (Ebay 110452805918) from a seller in Pocono Summit, Pennsylvania, appeared the same week. Both copies were graded Gem Mint 10 by PCA. However, the Pennsylvania copy included the words "Cal Ripken Jr 1981 Rochester Red Wings" on the front of the card with a blank back, making it different from the other three copies. 

Please use caution when purchasing any of Cal's minor league cards. For more information about spotting counterfeits of other varieties of Cal's minor league cards, please vitis our Spotting Counterfeits page. 

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