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Missing Billy Ripken -- Invitation to Write #32

For Writers:

When I was 16, I toyed with the idea of making a killing by collecting baseball cards. The local store had just received the complete 1989 Fleer sets, and I raced down town to invest my $31.80, secure in the knowledge that at least one card would be worth something. This was the year that Billy Ripken, the Baltimore Orioles’ second baseman, had written something obscene on the end of his baseball bat.

Arriving home, I tore through the box looking for the Billy Ripken card. To my surprise, the offending card was missing! What were the chances, I wondered, that this specific card was the one missing? All the other cards were there – I counted each one to make sure, and I carefully double-checked each card to verify that Billy’s wasn’t somehow out of order. But it simply wasn’t there.

For whatever reason, I never went back to the store to complain. I figured that some dishonest person in the store had removed the card as soon as the news broke about its collectability, and if they would do that, then surely they would feign complete ignorance about the matter if I brought news of the missing card to their attention. In fact now that I think back on the purchase some twenty years later, I distinctly recall the salesperson opening my box and looking through the contents before selling it to me. Why would he be looking for something that he had already removed? The only reason that makes any sense to me is that he wanted to make sure that Billy’s card was indeed removed.

In any event, I still have a complete 1989 Fleer set, minus one Billy Ripkin card. And, while the complete set has gone up in value, I won’t be retiring off my profits anytime soon. Last time I checked, the set was worth a whopping $35.95, and my missing Billy is available on eBay for ninety-nine cents. So if anyone wants to buy a set of baseball cards, let me know. I'll be happy to cut you a deal.

What do you collect? Is your collection merely for fun, or is there an underlying motive behind your collection?

“When we played softball, I'd steal second base, feel guilty and go back.” -- Woody Allen


  1. I collect frogs. The underlying motive would probably be that I needed something to collect, otherwise people just buy you a bunch of crap you may not want to least wih frogs, if they are cute, I'm happy :-)


  2. But do you eat frogs?? See Invitation to Write #29.


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