Billy Ripken's Fuck Face baseball card

I don't give a damn about sports, but I do love this kinda thing. In 1989, Fleer Corporation released this baseball card for Baltimore Orioles player Billy Ripken. Ooops. From Wikipedia:
 Wp-Content Uploads 2011 05 Billy Ripkin Fuck Fleer subsequently rushed to correct the error, and in their haste, released versions in which the text was scrawled over with a marker, whited out with correction fluid, and also airbrushed. On the final, corrected version, Fleer obscured the offensive words with a black box (this was the version included in all factory sets). Both the original card and many of the corrected versions have become collector's items as a result. There are at least ten different variations of this card. As of February 2009 the white out version has a book value of $120.[5]

Years later, Ripken admitted to having written the expletive on the bat; however, he claimed he did it to distinguish it as a batting practice bat, and did not intend to use it for the card. In the same letter, he expressed the opinion that Fleer was well aware of the obscenity, and not only retained but made it even clearer, hoping to benefit from the publicity the card would no doubt receive.

Modern Man has some more baseball card funnies: "12 Hilarious Old Baseball Cards" (Thanks, Vann Hall!)


  1. A friend of mine in high school was a baseball card collector and when this came out, he went a little nuts. We ended up driving around town to every conceivable location to pick up cases of cards (which, sealed, could contain 4 or 5 of these Ripkin cards apiece). I think he ended up getting half a dozen cases, and at the time I think the cases cost about $50 apiece. I would have thought the cards’d be worth more than $120 at this point, but that’s still not a bad return for him, though if he’d invested the same amount in an index fund he’d have made out better. Still, it makes for a good memory visiting all those Costco’s, running through the isles looking for these cars…

    1. The mid-80s to the early-90s baseball card manufacturers overproduced so many cards that most aren’t worth the card stock they’re printed upon, and even the big stars and rookies are generally worth less than they would have been a few years prior.

      The steroids also took a lot out of the value. Hell, a Barry Bonds rookie went for the same price as a Joe Carter rookie and 1/3 the value of a Tony Gwynn rookie. Those collections in the attic aren’t worth very much anymore, unfortunately.

  2. I distinctly remember my grandmother sorting through my baseball cards looking for this card. She wouldn’t tell me what was so special about it, which made me all the more curious.

  3. Still have my copy of this card somewhere (the original, not the whited out one). I remember when news about the error came out my friends and I were delighted. When you’re eight or nine there’s precious little more thrilling than covert profanity.

    A design company recently did a run of t-shirts paying homage to the gaffe:

    1. heh.
      And Billy Martin was definitely flipping off someone – the photographer, a teammate, a kid walking by…

    1. Interesting that the version in question is titled “Rick Face.” To me, it reads more like “Fock” or “”.

  4. “He wrote it himself… ”

    And the feeling in Baltimore was that it was an utterly appropriate thing to have written on his bat.

  5. I recall it being covered with a band aid on the bottom of the bat. Not white out. Anyone else have this recollection?

  6. No bigger scam for kids than collecting cards in the 1990s, or longer. I only bought a few in 1989 and 1990, but I saw enough kids getting ripped off by middle aged card shop owners to turn me off. Couple that with they print one Ken Griffey Jr rookie card, and a billion Joe Blows. It winds up just as an alternate currency whose Mint is held by FSM only know who. Almost any collecting of any mass produced crap these days is the same dopey thing.

    I think I have this card. I don’t think I’d even bother to look for it to check, because it’s not worth the effort. Cards took a dive when baby boomers aged out of their prime earning years and started focusing more on retirement.

    When I was a bug man back in the 90s I went into a house where a guy had bought just hundreds of Star Wars toys for Ep 1 before it came out. Saving them; part of his retirement plan he said. I just shook my head, and felt bad for him, he would have better spent his money on fixing up what had to be one of the worst houses I’ve ever been in, and for a bug man, I can tell you: that’s BAD.

  7. Actually, the bat reads “Rock Face” and was a tribute to Bill’s off season fascination with mountaineering.

  8. Nothing enhances an article quite like the author declaring he doesn’t give a damn about the subject matter.

    1. “Nothing enhances an article quite like the author declaring he doesn’t give a damn about the subject matter.”

      Actually, I like the author alot more after reading his “declaration” He doesn’t give a damn about sports? Neither do I! In fact, it was shoved down my throat all through middle school and high school gym class by all these nit-wit “phys ed” teachers who were obsessed with teams and sports and competition and they all fervently believed that competitive team sports were essential for the well-being of an adolescent. When all it really did was give the sociopathic bullies structure and acceptance for their bullying.

      Kids like me and my friends, who found competitive team sports and the people who obsessed over them ridiculous were considered unamerican and somehow unhealthy. The jocks were drunks and petty criminals, but that was okay because they could throw and catch a ball.

    1. Depending on your definition of relatively (allowing, say, 30 degrees in either direction to be an acceptable tolerance), about 5:1 against?

  9. Naw, Y’all are off-base. BWHAHAHAHAH!!!…heh heh…hah…er, ah, never mind.

    He’s just dissin’ former Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Elroy Face.

  10. I got this in a pack of Fleers right after they came out. My friends couldn’t believe that I got one of these, and I didn’t know what they were talking about until they pointed it out to me. For a little while after the controversy started, this card was going for an insane amount of money–well over $50. I was an idiot and refused to sell it.

    Then there were many different alternates that came out (the black box, etc.) that then also became highly sought after.

Comments are closed.