Billy Ripken Obscenity Bat: He Finally Talks 20 Years Later

By Darren Rovell (, 12/9/2008)

Had Billy Ripken not received a shipment of less than ideal Louisville Slugger R161 models that year…

Had Billy Ripken not decided to use one of those bats for batting practice that year… Had Billy Ripken not elected to mark that bat in a unique way that year…

Had the photographer, taking the picture for his Fleer baseball card, not asked him to pose for a shot in between batting practice with that bat…

Had the folks at Fleer caught what was written on the bat… it’s extremely unlikely that we’d be talking about the 20th anniversary of any moment in the baseball career of Billy Ripken.

After all, the son of Cal Sr., once his manager, and the brother of Cal Jr., his teammate, was known more for his glove in a 12-year Major League Baseball career than for his bat. His batting average was .247 and he knocked in a total of 220 RBI.

But in January of 1989, Billy Ripken, scheduled to be a five cent common in the 1989 Fleer set, ignited the hobby already entering its prime with the debut of the very first Upper Deck set. Packs of Fleer hit hobby stores right after New Year’s and, within two weeks, everyone had to have their hands on card No. 616, Billy Ripken.

It was the bat that he designated to use only in batting practice. It was the bat that had “F–K FACE” written on the knob, the obscenity in its full four-letter glory.

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Related Links:

  • – Web site about the Billy Ripken “Fuck Face” card and other sports card pranks. Funny stuff!
  • Fuckface t-shirt – Inspired by the Ripken prank, NYC’s No Mas created this too-cool O’s tee.

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