Big League Stew

‘Balloon Boy’ baseball card contains piece of vessel from hoax in Colorado

Kevin Kaduk
Big League Stew

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Baseball card companies have inserted all sorts of materials into their "relic" cards over the years, from pieces of Jackie Robinson's bat to a strand of JFK's hair.

One of the chase cards in 2012's Allen & Ginter's Topps set will be hard to top when it comes to the most bizarre, though.

"Lucky" collectors have the opportunity to find a "Balloon Boy" relic card that contains a small piece of the Mylar balloon that young Falcon Heene was supposedly riding in on that memorable day in October 2009.

Of course, the 5-year-old Colorado boy was not in the balloon that captivated local authorities, cable news networks and a snarky audience on Twitter. Falcon Heene was found hiding inside his house and his parents Richard and Mayumi Heene were later convicted in a Colorado court of staging a hoax that drew worldwide attention.

A small piece of that day can be yours as the current owner of the balloon, Michael Fruitman, sold part of it to Topps. The card company has since sliced and diced it up, all in the name of increased sales and media attention.

From the Denver Post:

"If this was the Mona Lisa I would not send it to them to be cut up, but I understand what this is," Fruitman said. "I figured this was a way that any number of people are able to own a piece of Colorado history."

Former Fort Collins residents Richard Heene and his wife Mayumi were convicted in Colorado state court after using the homemade flying saucer balloon to construct an elaborate and far-reaching hoax that claimed their 5-year-old son had been carried off in the alleged stowaway. The Heenes, who have since moved to Florida, were ordered to pay $36,000 in restitution to authorities who responded to the 60-mile rescue chase.

Fruitman paid $2,502 for the balloon in an auction last year and hung it from the ceiling of his Aurora (memorabilia) shop, Mike's Stadium Sportscards.

If you're shrugging your shoulders at home and wondering why a baseball fan would want to find that card, you're not that alone. Dozens have been listed on eBay and most auctions are still in the sub-$10 territory.

Indeed, if anyone was harboring hopes of sending their kids to college after finding one, their dreams were deflated even more quickly than the conversation piece in their hands.


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Fly high, balloon boy! Fly high! (AP/KMGH)


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