What’s a guy have to do to get a little cardboard love?

Twins fans may have pondered that very question in 1982, especially if they were card collectors tearing their way through packs of Fleer that summer.

Because, as a group of young prospects started to find their way to the Major Leagues, promising better days ahead in the Metrodome, some of them were hard to get a bead on, cardboardally.

At least if your card of choice was Fleer.

And, all these years later, one of the Philadelphia gum-maker’s omission stands out like a vowel in a certain player’s name: where the heck is the Kent Hrbek rookie card?

Well …

You could find Herbie in that year’s Donruss set, on a solo card, to boot.

And you could also find him as part of a bevy of “MINNESOTA TWINS FUTURE STARS,” nestled there between Lenny Faedo and Tim Laudner.

And then, later in the year, you could find Hrbek as a solo rookie in the 1982 Topps Traded set, a fitting tribute to a guy who smashed 23 home runs, drove in 92, batted .301, and finished second in American League Rookie of the Year voting to Cal Ripken, Jr.

But Fleer?

Uh … well, the dog ate their homework.

And their Hrbek rookie card.

And their Faedo and Laudner RCs.

And one for Tom Brunansky, who came to the Twins via trade in May of 1982.

Even though all those guys landed rookie cards from the other major card companies that year.

And, in Hrbek’s case, even though he had logged 24 games for the Twinkies in the strike-shortened 1981 campaign, a callup necessitated by his mashing Single-A pitching to the tune of .379, 27 HR, 111 RBI in a scant 121 games.

None of that was enough for Fleer.

His breakout 1982 was enough, though, and Fleer joined the Hrbek fray in 1983 with a shot of the young slugger leaning on a stick:

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If Hrbek looks a little cheeky there, maybe it’s because he knows that Fleer missed out, big time, in 1982, and he’s enjoying a quick I-told-you-so moment.

Or … maybe it’s because of that “CASTINO” emblazoned across the handle running in front of his torso.

Was he trying to have a bit of fun with Fleer’s photographer, trying to coax the card-maker into another gaffe? Would they release Hrbek’s picture on teammate John Castino’s card?

No, as it turns out. They got the right pic with the right name and finally gave collectors a Hrbek Fleer “rookie” card, though technically it’s a “First Fleer Card,” or FFC, since Fleer missed the rookie boat.

And, though it’s probably farfetched to think that Hrbek gave (or gives) a Flying Fleer Card (yes, FFC) about any of the gaffes and misses and potential cheekiness, it’s fun to pretend.

After all, wouldn’t you prefer your baseball cards to come with a sense of humor?

Want to see a video version of this article?

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