Brisbee: The Bill Ripken card, 30 years later

From SABR member Grant Brisbee at SB Nation on January 25, 2019:

It had to have been a neighborhood kid who told me about the Bill Ripken card. I should still remember where I was, who I was with, what the weather was like, but I don’t, so I’ll have to assume. It was the older kid, the one whose parents let him watch HBO whenever he wanted to. There’s no sense worrying about how he knew a card like this existed; he always knew.

There was a swear word on one of the new baseball cards, he said. Clear as day. The F-word. Right on the front of Bill Ripken’s 1989 Fleer card.

I couldn’t have believed him. I was always falling for his pranks, always dumb enough to trust him, but this would have been too much. A swear word on a baseball card? That would have been the most lurid event that had ever touched my life, which, in retrospect, is a pretty good way to explain how safe and uncomplicated my childhood was. There was no way this was real. A swear word — one of the worst ones! — on a baseball card, something that formed the foundation of my middle school’s economy. Get out of here.

It had to have been a card show when I saw it for the first time. It’s not like “Beckett’s” was running pictures of it on the front cover. No, it had to have been in lucite, behind a glass case, on top of a folding table, with a grumpy mustachioed dude on the other side watching my every move. I stared at the swear card behind several layers of protection, as if it needed to be protected from me. As if the most dangerous part wasn’t shooting into my eyeballs at the speed of light.

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Originally published: January 25, 2019. Last Updated: January 25, 2019.