To a Jose Canseco collector, there is no greater year in sports cards than 1989. Card companies began producing their product to reflect the 1988 season and that year there was no bigger name in baseball and perhaps all of sports than Jose’s.
In the 1988 season, a young, Cuban slugger predicted to the media during Spring Training that he would be the first player in history to hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases. That idea was preposterous and brought much laughter from sports writers. Thankfully, he proved them all wrong.
For starters, Jose had never hit more than 33 home runs and stolen 15 bases. Did he know something we didn’t? Of course, he was juiced to the bone but not a soul knew but Jose and a few of his teammates. Before you knew it, Jose did what no other man had ever done, hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases.
This 1989 Fleer card features a somewhat dated design but who cares? It shows Jose in his prime, on his way to winning the Most Valuable Player award, unanimously. Unfortunately, the biggest card in the set belongs to a fledgling ball player named Bill Ripken because of something scribbled on his bat.
I began collecting in 1990 so I never truly experienced the madness created by Fleer the previous year. I was instead stuck with a plain, all-white 1990 Fleer design. Well, if you’ve always wanted to bust some Fleer wax, there is an entire case on eBay right now for the low price of $14,000 thousand.
Sounds like a great deal to me…
(hat tip – BillRipken.com)
It’s strange when you think about it. Out of all the great rookie cards from the 80’s that hit three figures, it’s an error card that perhaps will be forever cherished in the minds of collectors.
Sure, Clemens, Ripken Jr., Canseco and a few others carried The Hobby on their shoulders at times, but no other card created such buzz as did the 1989 Fleer Bill Ripken error card.
Today this card is truly a forgotten treasure to many collectors, especially those who missed out on the 80’s. However, this card and its dozen versions will live forever on the website BillRipken.com, which has more information on the card than you could ever imagine.
On the secondary market, you can find this card for about $5 dollars, which is not so bad when you think about it. That’s about $4 more dollars than the rookie card of a man who hit nearly 450 more home runs than Billy, won the Most Valuable Player award unanimously, and created a prestigious “club” that only has three other members.
More on that player next time on Forgotten Treasures.
(thumbnail leads to a full-size scan)
It’s been almost twenty years since the infamous 1989 Fleer Bill Ripken “error” card hit the market. Finally, the most famous baseball brother this side of Ozzie Canseco has commented on the card and has thrown a large accusation towards Fleer (LINK), now owned by Upper Deck and no longer producing baseball cards.
“I mean, they certainly have to have enough proofreaders to see it. I think not only did they see it, they enhanced it. That writing on that bat is way too clear. I don’t write that neat.”
So is Fleer responsible for one of the first and greatest “gimmick” cards of all-time? We will likely discover who shot J.F.K before we learn the inner workings of a card company so don’t hold your breath. Now, the card once valued at hundreds of dollars can be had for very little so if you’ve ever dreamed of owning one rush out to eBay and make a bid or two.
This 1989 Fleer lacks a piece of a game-used relic, certified autograph or any other one of today’s popular vices but still ruled the Hobby for years, along other 80’s icons like the ’86 Donruss Jose Canseco and the ’89 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card.
As a card blogger, I am ashamed not to own a copy.