Like a lot of baseball fans, when I was a kid growing up I collected baseball cards. Every time I went to the store with my parents or ran to the local convenience store, I always made sure to get myself at least one pack of cards. By the time I had reached the end of my collecting days I had two giant bins full of cards in my basement, and countless books filled with the valuable cards.
Still, in my life there was one card I always wanted that I could never get my hands on. I remember the first time I saw it at my friend Billy's house when we got home from the local White Hen Pantry. Billy opened his pack of cards up and was flipping through them when he stopped on one and yelled "I got one!" I went over to see what he was talking about and sure enough, there it was. The 1989 Fleer card of Baltimore Orioles second baseman Bill Ripken, and there, written on the bottom of his bat were those two infamous words (Hint: They rhyme with Duck Race).
It's one of the most famous baseball cards to ever be printed, and for years there were a lot of different stories as to why Ripken had written those words on his bat. At the time Ripken came out and said that it must have been a prank pulled by one of his teammates, but as it turns out that's a lie. I know this because for the first time since that card came out twenty years ago, Ripken finally decided to tell CNBC's Darren Rovell the truth behind the obscenity.
"I got a dozen bats in front of my locker during the 1988 season. I pulled the bats out, model R161, and noticed--because of the grain patterns--that they were too heavy. But I decided I'd use one of them, at the very least, for my batting practice bat.
"Now I had to write something on the bat. At Memorial Stadium, the bat room was not too close to the clubhouse, so I wanted to write something that I could find immediately if I looked up and it was 4:44 and I had to get out there on the field a minute later and not be late. There were five big grocery carts full of bats in there and if I wrote my number 3, it could be too confusing. So I wrote 'F--k' Face on it."
Apparently writing "Billy Ripken" on the knob would have been way too confusing, as there was a possibility that Cal might forget his first name and accidentally use the bat. Ripken went on to say that he was taking batting practice at Fenway Park that day, and as he walked to the cage somebody tapped him on the shoulder and asked if they could take his picture holding the bat. Not thinking about what he'd written on it, Billy agreed, and the rest is history.
Billy Ripken Finally Comes Clean About That One Baseball Card originally appeared on MLB FanHouse on Tue, 09 Dec 2008 13:20:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.