Monday, February 11, 2013

1989 FLEER BILLY RIPKEN

THE NO. 1 ERROR CARD OF ALL-TIME?



BILLY ALWAYS HAD TIME TO LOUNGE
DURING THE ALL-STAR BREAK.


THE FRONT PAGE

  • While Billy Ripken had only a fraction of older brother Cal's offensive talent, he matched and often exceeded Junior's defense and desire, which is saying plenty. 
  • A great-field, no-hit gamer, he was a five-year minor-leaguer before getting his chance with the Orioles on July 11, 1987. He was a breath of fresh air in Baltimore, sparking the team to 11 victories in the next 12 games.
  • The Shawshank Prison card design is all kinds of wrong. I would crawl through 500 yards of sewage faster than you could say "Zihuatanejo, Mexico" just to avoid building this set.

THE BACK PAGE

  • Like Donruss back in the day, Fleers all looked the same regardless of year.
  • That said, the info contained here is great. Complete stats, a decent blurb and the All-Star Break graphic make for interesting reading.

PHOTO PLAY

  • Fenway Park is the backdrop here, and Billy shows off his slugger pose. If there was one thing he couldn't do, it was slug (.318 over his 12-year career).
  • Do you think his batting glove has "7'' written on it for his number or "L'' for left?
  • There appears to be something written on the bat knob. ...

EXTRA, EXTRA

  • The excitement each year over the release of the new cards quickens the pulse, but nothing sent the masses into hysteria more than the Billy Ripken error card hunt of January 1989.
  • Ripken said he wrote the pleasantry on a batting practice bat so he could pick it out of the rack quicker. 
  • I guess "Ofer" was taken.
  • After batting practice before a game in Boston in '88, he was asked by a photographer to pose. He says he grabbed ol' trusty "Fuck Face" without thinking.
  • He was furious with Fleer when the card hit packs, wondering why quality control didn't catch it. A crotchety old editor once told me a long time ago: "If you don't want it printed, don't write it.''
  • Despite denials from Fleer, it's pretty clear the company wanted the card to get out to create a nice buzz and sell some product. Mission accomplished.
  • At first, reports were that only 3,000 of the obscenity card got out, but now it's believed the number was more like 100,000. 
  • Several other '89 Fleer Ripkens were issued, containing various states of the knob being blacked out. Fleer should've blotted some of those stats on the back as well.
  • I, like others, was ensnared in the mania and wasted money on many packs only to never pull one. I finally bought one recently as a way to reconnect with the late '80s like some watch Die Hard, Platoon and Ishtar back to back to back.
  • Reportedly, the card was priced as much as $500 in those first few weeks. There are times to buy and times to sell. That was a time to sell.
  • Billy says he got several copies of the FF card during '89 and in the off-season sent autographed versions to his groomsmen before his wedding. That's one way to turn a negative into a positive.
  • Back to Billy the ballplayer: When Rick Burleson was released in '87, Ripken took his roster spot after recently going 11-for-12 for Triple-A Rochester.
  • He and Cal Ripken became the fourth set of brothers to become double-playmates. They would turn 296 twin-killings from '87-'92.
  • Billy made only three errors in 298 chances in '87, but his season ended in September after tearing an ankle ligament when he found a seam in the AstroTurf at Toronto's unspectacular Exhibition Stadium.
  • When father Cal Ripken Sr. was fired as manager six losses into '88, Billy gave up his No. 3 and took his dad's No. 7 for the rest of the season. The team gave up, too, losing its next 15.

2 comments:

  1. I have like 10 of these. Still want the white-out version, but can't justify spensing more than $5 on an error card....

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  2. On man I remember when this hit. It's the sole reason I didn't open any 89 Fleer until a couple of years ago when I found an old hobby box for $5. No Fuck Faces though. But I do remember the mania associated with the card. It sent packs of Fleer through the roof and as a kid with a feeble allowance I sure as hell wasn't going to buy expensive packs of Fleer to look for Billy 'Freakin' Ripken cards.

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