1989 Fleer Bill Ripken "F**k Face"

The Pull of my Childhood: 1989 Fleer Bill Ripken “F*** Face”

Yesterday Jason posted about the pull of his life.  I thought it was a fun piece to read and judging by the amount of reads that it received, so did many others.  That told me that perhaps people would be interested in mine.

Jason has also posted a couple of times on errors and variations from the cards of our youth.  This card is certainly one of those.  While not the most “valuable,” it’s likely the most well known error card.  As I write this, I feel like this piece is all due to Jason.

I started collecting cards with the 1987 sets.  My uncle, who was a collector, gave me a 1986 Topps set for Christmas (of 1986).  I’m sure my parents just bought me a couple of packs of those 1987 Topps at first, but I can’t remember for sure (I would have only been eight at the time).  What I do remember is being hooked by those wood grain borders.  I obviously showed a continued interest and ended up getting more and more cards.  I also remember that each Friday, my mama would go to a wholesaler in Westover (across the river from Morgantown, West Virginia) and by me a box of 1987 Donruss cards.  My life was never the same after that.

For whatever reason, it seemed that Fleer cards were harder to come by in Morgantown early on in my collecting life.  I don’t recall ever getting a pack of 1987 Fleer.  I vaguely remember my dad getting me a couple of packs of the 1988 cards.  I believe he picked them up at the 7-Eleven on University Avenue, across from where he worked.  It was really cool  to have a few of those cards in my monster boxes, breaking up all of the Topps and Donruss ones.

One evening, it had to be the spring of 1989, my mama calls me in and asks me if I know about some Ripken error card and if I had it.  I didn’t – know about it or have it.  It was a Fleer and to that point, I didn’t have any.  She actually saw a story about the card on the national news.  I grew up only having satellite television, so it had to be one of the major networks that mentioned it.

I can’t say how much later it was until the next card show in my town, but I don’t believe it was too long.  There haven’t been steady shows in north central West Virginia in years, but in the late 80s – early 90s, there was one two or three times a year at the local Ramada Inn.  That was where, as I kid, I experienced my first card show autograph guest.  It was none other than Chicago Cub Doug Dascenzo.

Moving on…

That spring 1989 show, my mama must have come down with card fever after seeing that piece on the news.  We went to the table that was run by my local card guy, Bob.  Bob Bailey owned a (very) small neighborhood grocery store, and had a few singles displayed in the back of the store and always had packs in the front.  We didn’t have a local card shop in town at the time, so that little grocery store WAS my LCS.

I want to say that he was asking three or four dollars a pack.  Bob was a good man and he wasn’t price gouging.  He knew what the market was on them and was just asking for the going rate.  I was shocked when mama let me pick out two or three packs!  At that time, wax packs were 50 cents or so.  She was letting me buy these, and this was a woman that scoffed at 1989 Upper Deck, which was $1 a pack.  I was floored.

Packs in hand, we headed outside the ballroom to a spot where there were a few chairs.  Not sure at what point, but I opened a pack, and there it was!  THIS EXACT CARD:


There was an “older” guy that offered to pay me a whole $10 for the card!  I’m pretty sure that I not-so-politely declined.  I probably would have said worse, but my mama was there with me.  I guess as long as cards have had real “value,” there have been people trying to take advantage of others.

I’ve gone through a couple of times in life where I’ve “left” the hobby, but that’s relative.  There was a point where I was down to just one four row box of cards.   However, this is one card that I have always kept.  Not sure why that price tag is on the back.  Maybe I did consider selling it at one point.  Maybe I needed to put it into a new sleeve when I was younger and that’s the only one that I had.  However, this card has been mine for 26 years now.  It will always have more sentimental than monetary value to me.

Sometime in the last couple of years, I added this Ripken variation:


It’s cool to have because of the history of the ol’ 1989 Fleer #616, but it’s just a card to me.  It is nowhere in the stratosphere of the “F*** Face” card that I pulled as an eight year old.

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  1. Mine is the most treasured card in my collection. My older cousin gave it to me when I was around 9 or so. Always felt so subversive with that card in my collection. Every time I look at it, I still smile and think about the “Good ol’ days” of collecting.

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