Thursday, March 14, 2013
March 14- Baltimore Orioles
To start this post off I first have to thank everyone for following me through this journey. These posts are not just about the hats I love to collect and wear, but a celebration of the people who have enriched my life through baseball. Last night’s post was not only the most viewed post in a 24 hour time frame, but the most of any that I have written altogether. Over 1000 views to be exact; in which I mostly have Gio Gonzalez to thank for retweeting it this morning. Every day is a new challenge; but most of all, every day is a new treat to be able to share these stories with everyone. Without your support, this mission wouldn’t mean as much. Thank you all!
For the last five years or so I’ve slowly gotten back into collecting baseball cards on a more regular basis. When I was three-years-old I was for introduced to the hobby by my older brothers Matt and Adam. Adam is four years older than me and Matt is five years older, but even as young as I was, they both hooked me up with a few of their doubles since I wasn’t old enough to have any means of being able to go out and buy any packs on my own. The first card they gave me? 1986 Topps Jose Canseco rookie card. My father and Adam grew up San Francisco Giants fans, but Matt made sure I got a firm education in being an Oakland Athletics fan; hence the card choice. From that day I was hooked; not just on the A’s, but also starting my own extensive baseball card collection. From ’86 until 1993 I bought packs with whatever birthday and Christmas money I garnered. During those days I ran the gamut, buying Donruss, Upper Deck, Topps, etc., but as I got into my teenage years I maintained my focus on Topps. There was always something nostalgic about it, which I think played heavily on the Canseco card my brother gave me. Today I buy a pack or two whenever I have a few extra bucks in my pocket after picking up my monthly necessities at Target. I’m not particularly focused on getting a complete set; hell, I’m not even that psyched on pulling the inserts. I do it because I love the feeling of opening a pack of cards. It brings back the feeling of opening presents on Christmas, even for just a few moments.
As a youngling the highlight of opening a pack was being able to admire all of the logos printed on the front. I knew who a few of the players I was getting were, but for the most part I critiqued whether I had a good pack or a bad pack based on the variety of teams I got, especially the A’s ones. From what I recall I always enjoyed getting Montreal Expos, Atlanta Braves, Milwaukee Brewers, and most importantly, Baltimore Orioles cards. Their logos throughout the 1980s are still iconic pieces of art throughout the history of baseball. The Orioles smiling bird logo always made me laugh because it reminded me of something I would find in a comic book. As I got older and started seeing it less and less until it was finally gone, it made me a little sad inside. It felt as if a small piece of the best years of my youth had been temporarily dispatched from the planet and placed in a time capsule, waiting to be unearthed when I was old enough to appreciate it more. That day finally came in July of 2011.
For years I had seen this hat at almost every sports shop I walked through, especially the one I worked at, Just Sports (@JustSportspdx). For some stupid reason I kept putting it off, and off, and off until the wheels in my head finally kicked on and I dropped the cash down fast than you can say Brooks Robinson. Of all the Orioles hats to collect, this one was the most important as it told tales from years past that will forever live in the infamy of baseball.
It served as the Orioles game cap from 1975-1988. Under its awesomeness the Orioles fielded many greats such as Brooks Robinson, Lee May, Reggie Jackson (one season), Eddie Murray and of course, the Ironman, Cal Ripken, Jr. In the 14 years the O’s rocked this cap they only won World Series in 1983, the same year that Cal won his first American league MVP. But to be honest, as great as their accomplishments were, there was only one specific thing that I always come back whenever I wear or see this cap/logo.
#616- Some of you may have all ready known where I was going with this story from the start, but for those of you who don’t, you’re in for a treat. As I mentioned above, I had always been an avid collector of Topps baseball cards, but there was one year of Fleer that will always be #1 in my book. 1989 was a great year for me; the Oakland A’s dominated the Giants in extreme fashion in the World Series, I had a productive first grade year, and most importantly, I got my first Billy Ripken card. What was originally supposed to be a $.05 common card turned out to be one of the most sought after cards in the history of the hobby. Here it is if you haven’t had the honor of gazing upon it…
That’s right! The infamous “Fuck Face” card. When the cards were first released in 1989 very few people gave it much thought. After all, it’s just Billy Rip with a bat on his shoulder, doing the classic profile pose. Not to mention, the writing on the bat is rather small and hardly noticeable at first, but once people took notice, its popularity soared.
What ensued was absolute chaos and—as the "error" card's price rose to nearly $500—there were some amazing stories. A kid, who happened to be a fan of Ripken, had purchased a huge lot of No. 616's from a dealer for $50. When the curse was found, the new worth of the cards was closer to $20,000. There was the story of one kid who sued another kid for convincing him to sell his Billy Ripken for $1, without knowing the curse was on the bat. And the tale of the Geraldo show entitled "Men who write bad things in public places," when an audience member claimed it was he who wrote the obscenity on Ripken's bat. – CNBC December 9, 2008
I was one of the lucky kids who found an original; however, I was also one of the unlucky kids who grew up in a Mormon house where such words were not allowed. Not too long after my father found out that I had the card he gave me two options:
1. Throw the card in the trash. (Wasn’t happening)
2. Trade it. (Damn you Gevon Gardner!!!) <----- The kid I traded it to for Ryne Sandberg.
I feel bad for any other kid who had to go through the same “punishment” as I did, but looking back on it I find the whole ordeal quite hilarious. I mean, can you imagine something like this going down in professional sports? A trade going down after a player’s parents got involved! Oh my garden! That would be SOOOOOOOO ridiculous. Wait a minute…
Sorry. Had to do it. Anyway, if there was ever any piece of Orioles history that I needed back in my life, it was definitely this card… or at least something like it. When I came up with my baseball mascot/logo tattoo designs I made sure every one of them had an important, historical value to them. For the Orioles I probably could have picked out something more “important,” but that’s really all in the eye of the beholder.
I’ll never regret this decision.