In Brief : Obscene ‘Prank’ on Baseball Card Embarrasses Oriole Billy Ripken

From Times Staff and Wire Service Reports

Baltimore Oriole Billy Ripken says he is embarrassed that an obscenity appeared on his bat on a new baseball card, adding that he thinks it may have been a prank by teammates.

The baseball card company, Fleer Corp., hastily rubbed out the words, which were discovered Tuesday, about two weeks after the start of distribution of the 1989 cards.

Phil Perry, owner of Phil Perry’s Baseball Card Exchange in Baltimore, said he believes that only 100 or so cards reached Maryland--18 of which are in his possession.

“It (the obscenity) is clear. It’s very, very sharp,” he said. “I’ve already been offered $20 a card.”


Fleer issued new cards with the obscenity on the knob of the bat erased, but “a significant quantity reached the field” before the change was made, company President Vincent Murray said. He did not know exactly how many of the original cards were released.

Ripken said the card, which he had not seen, embarrassed him.

“I know I’m kind of a jerk at times. I know I’m a little off,” Ripken said. “But this is just going too far.”

Executives at Fleer said they were unaware that there was anything out of the ordinary with Ripken’s card until they were notified by the Baltimore Sun Tuesday.

“We regret it ever occurred . . . and I’m sure he (Ripken) does, too,” said Murray. “A lot of pranksterism, if you will, goes on among major league players, you know. We catch a number of them. We catch most of them. We didn’t catch this one.”

Ripken, who is often the object of teammates’ pranks, said he knew nothing about how the words got onto the bat.

“It appears I was targeted by teammates,” Ripken said. “But how can this happen? I can see them (teammates) getting me. I can see being had. But I don’t see how it got through them (Fleer) unless they wanted it to.”