Inside the Pack: Seinfeld Script “The Baseball Card Shop”
This past Friday, July 5, was the 30th anniversary of the premiere of the hit sitcom Seinfeld, my favorite show of all time. As part of the celebrations, I was granted exclusive access to the Seinfeld archives, where I discovered a script for an unaired episode for the show’s never-to-be tenth season. Below is the script for the episode entitled “The Baseball Card Shop.”
[SCENE: JERRY AND KRAMER ARE WALKING DOWN THE SIDEWALK IN THEIR NEIGHBORHOOD. THEY SPOT A SHOP WITH A “GRAND OPENING” SIGN HUNG FROM THE CANOPY.]
Kramer: Look at this, Jerry, a store selling nothing but baseball cards.
Jerry: George and I used to love cards when we were kids. We used to sit for hours going through our cards with wads of bubblegum in our mouths and trading cards back and forth.
[Camera cuts to Kramer who puts a wad of bubblegum in his mouth. Jerry and Kramer peer through the store window, looking at cards displayed in a case.]
Jerry: Wow, would you look at that? All those Mickey Mantle cards are hundreds of dollars each!
[Camera cuts to Kramer who puts another wad of bubblegum in his mouth.]
Jerry: I used to have that one there! But in 1965, there was this Mets rookie card that had 4 players including Ron Swoboda and Tug McGraw, and George’s father convinced me that 4 Mets rookies were better than one Yankees player.
[Jerry continues to look through the window, visibly frustrated.]
Jerry: Let me see something here.
[Jerry opens the door to the shop and walks in. Kramer follows with an ever-growing hunk of bubblegum in his mouth. ]
Jerry: Uh, excuse me! How much – –
[Kramer, looking in a glass display case, shouts out and interrupts Jerry.]
Kramer: How much is this Keith Hernandez autograph?
[Shop owner briefly looks up, then looks back down at a pile of cards he is sorting.]
Shop owner: It’s twenty-five dollars.
Jerry: [to Kramer] Are you done?
[Kramer looks at Jerry with a huge smile, revealing his giant wad of bubble gum.]
Jerry: How much is a 1965 Ron Swoboda rookie card worth?
[The shop owner pops his head up again.]
Shop owner: ’65 Swoboda — beautiful card. Got 4 Mets on there including Tug McGraw.
Jerry: Yeah, that’s the one. How much is it worth?
Shop owner: Well, it’s a high number card, which means it’s a short print. Not as many of them were printed as the other cards, so it’s more rare.
Kramer: [smacks Jerry’s upper arm] Oh, mama!
Shop owner: It’s probably worth five, maybe ten dollars in nice shape.
Jerry: Five or ten dollars? So you wouldn’t trade a 1965 Mickey Mantle for it?
Shop owner: Not a chance.
Jerry: I’ve gotta talk to George.
Kramer: [to shop owner] Hey, do you buy autographs?
Shop owner: Uh, yeah, sure, if they’re of good players.
Kramer: [to Jerry] I’ve gotta talk to Elaine.
[SCENE: INTERIOR, JERRY’S APARTMENT. JERRY IS READING A NEWSPAPER. GEORGE WALKS IN THE FRONT DOOR.]
George: Jerry, you won’t believe what happened to me today. I’m walking down the street, minding my own business, when – –
Jerry: Yeah, yeah, that’s nice. Listen, I’ve gotta ask you something. Do you remember that 1965 Mickey Mantle card I traded you back in the day?
George: Sure, why?
Jerry: Well, Kramer and I were coming back from the coffee shop, and…
[Kramer flings the apartment door open and enters the apartment.]
Kramer: Did you tell him about the cards?
Jerry: I was just doing that! Anyway, George, we were coming back from the coffee shop and we noticed this baseball card shop opened, so we went in, and that Mickey Mantle card I used to have is worth a few hundred dollars.
George: A few *hundred*?
Jerry: Yeah, but hey, do you remember how your dad convinced me to trade it to you for that Ron Swoboda rookie card?
George: Sure. Four guys are better than one.
Jerry: Well, that card is only worth five or ten bucks. I think your dad was trying to rip me off!
George: You *think*? Listen, they’ve still got my cards in the attic, so next time I go over there I’ll get it and if we sell it, we’ll split the profits 70/30.
George: Yeah, what, no good? It’s really my card, you know. You traded it to me.
Jerry: Because your dad ripped me off!
[The apartment door opens and Elaine walks in.]
Kramer: Why don’t you guys just cut the card in half and you each get half of it?
Elaine: Hey, Jerry. George. [turns to Kramer] Solomon. What’s going on?
Jerry: Oh, George’s dad ripped me off as a kid and took a valuable Mickey Mantle card from me.
Kramer: Hey Elaine, I gotta ask you a favor. Can you call up Keith Hernandez for me?
Elaine: My ex-boyfriend Keith Hernandez?
Kramer: Yeah, see, he owes me a favor for helping him move. There’s this baseball card shop that opened and I want to sell some of his autographs to the owner.
Elaine: So let me get this straight. You want me to call an ex I broke up with so he can do you a favor that will make you some money? Why can’t you do it?
Kramer: My phone is broken!
[Kramer walks out of the apartment and closes the door behind him. Elaine shakes her head.]
[SCENE: FRANK AND ESTELLE COSTANZA’S KITCHEN. GEORGE IS EATING DINNER WITH HIS PARENTS.]
George: Hey dad, I meant to ask you. Do you still have my old baseball cards in the attic?
Frank: Why do you ask?
George: Well, Jerry found out that there’s a card he traded me that’s worth a few hundred dollars, and…
Frank: A few *hundred*? [claps hands] Hot DOG!
[Estelle pours more potato chips into the bowl.]
George: Yeah, a Mickey Mantle card. Anyway, we’re gonna sell it and split the profits, uh…70/30.
Frank: 70/30? It’s your card! He traded it to you!
George: Only because you pressured him to!
[Frank sighs, claps his hands together, and looks down.]
Frank: Well, as much as I’d love to give you your collection back, I’m afraid I have some bad news. We threw it out the last time we cleaned out the attic.
George: You threw out my collection?
Estelle: I don’t think we threw it out, Frank.
George: How could you throw out my collection?
Frank: [raising his voice] It was sitting around collecting dust!
George: But it was my collection! What right do you have to throw it out?
Estelle: [screaming off-camera] Go look for the cards in the attic, Frank!
Frank: [screaming] I threw them out with my own two hands!
[SCENE: COFFEE SHOP INTERIOR. ELAINE IS SITTING IN A BOOTH WITH JERRY.]
Elaine: So I call Keith, tell him the situation, and that was it. He didn’t even ask how I was doing or try to get me to see him!
Jerry: Did you want him to?
Elaine: It would have been nice.
Jerry: Would you have seen him?
Elaine: No, but he doesn’t know that!
[George walks in and sits at the booth.]
Jerry: So? Did you get the Mickey Mantle card?
George: [visibly ashamed] My dad says…he threw my collection out.
Jerry: He threw it out? But that was YOUR collection!
George: I know! He says it was just sitting around collecting dust.
Elaine: Oh, like you!
[George fakes a laugh and rolls his eyes, then turns to Jerry.]
George: My mother doesn’t think he actually threw the collection out.
Jerry: You think he’s lying?
George: I wouldn’t put it past him! So Elaine, what’s going on with Kramer’s Keith Hernandez thing?
Elaine: Oh, you won’t be-LIEVE it! I called Keith for Kramer, told him the whole story, and that’s it! He didn’t even ask how I was doing!
George: Did you want him to?
Elaine: [gritting her teeth] It would have been nice!
[SCENE: BASEBALL CARD SHOP INTERIOR. KRAMER IS CARRYING A BUCKET THROUGH THE DOOR.]
Shop owner: Hey there, how can I help you?
Kramer: Yeah, hey. I’ve got 25 baseballs signed by former Mets great Keith Hernandez. I figure if you sell ‘em for $25 a pop, you pay me $15 and we both win!
[The shop owner rifles through the bucket briefly.]
Shop owner: Yeah sorry, I don’t think I can help you out here.
Kramer: I thought you said you buy autographs of good players!
Shop owner: Sure, but these don’t have any kind of authentication.
Shop owner: Yeah, paperwork to prove that Keith Hernandez signed these.
Kramer: But he did sign them!
Shop owner: Well, I don’t know that!
[Kramer picks the bucket up and starts to storm out of the shop. Frank walks into the shop holding a shoebox.]
Kramer: Hey! Frank! What are you doing here?
Frank: K-man! Just brought some baseball cards over for this fine gentleman to see.
Kramer: Oh, you found them!
[The shop owner approaches Frank and opens the box.]
Shop owner: Let’s see what you’ve got. [rifles through the box] You’ve got the right players, but the condition is horrendous.
Frank: [taken aback] The condition?
Shop owner: Well yeah, these cards are in horrible shape. Looks like they went through the washing machine 40 years ago. Look at this 1965 Mickey Mantle card — someone wrote “GEORGE” in ballpoint pen on the back.
Frank: [screaming] I’ll kill him!
Shop owner: I couldn’t give you more than $50 for these cards in this shape.
Frank: $50? Do you believe this? C’mon, Kramer, let’s go!
[SCENE: INSIDE JERRY’S APARTMENT. JERRY AND GEORGE ARE SITTING ON THE COUCH, WHILE ELAINE IS IN THE KITCHEN EATING A BANANA.]
Elaine: Run this by me one more time. Jerry, you traded the card to George because Frank pressured you into it. And now that you know it’s worth money, George wants to sell the card and split the proceeds 60/40 —
[Kramer walks into the apartment.]
Elaine: …split the proceeds with you.
Kramer: Who’s splitting proceeds?
George: No one, apparently.
Jerry: Yeah, Frank threw George’s cards out.
Kramer: Oh, you didn’t hear? He has your cards. I saw him down at the shop today.
George: [incredulously] At the shop?
Kramer: Yeah, he was there trying to sell them. Apparently they’re in real bad shape though. The owner only wanted to give him $50 for them.
George: Sell them? Sell MY cards?!
Kramer: Well, yeah, but…
George: Oh, this is RICH! I gotta go talk to him.
[George walks out of the apartment.]
Kramer: Yeah hey, Elaine, listen, I need you to call Keith for me again.
Elaine: Again? I thought your phone was fixed! Why can’t YOU call him?
Kramer: [sheepishly] I’m too embarrassed!
Elaine: What now?
Kramer: Turns out the shop owner won’t buy those autographs because they aren’t authenticated. I need him to go down to the shop with me and tell the owner he signed them.
Elaine: Can’t I just go and vouch for you?
Jerry: Yeah, I can see it. Tuck your hair back, slap on a fake mustache, you could almost pass for Keith.
Elaine: [picking up her purse and heading for the door] Guess I’ve got a phone call to make.
[SCENE: THE COSTANZA HOUSE. THERE’S A KNOCK ON THE DOOR. ESTELLE ANSWERS. GEORGE IS AT THE DOOR.]
Estelle: Georgie! What a surprise.
George: Yeah, yeah. Where’s dad?
[Frank emerges from the other room.]
George: Dad, we’ve got something to talk about.
Frank: George! I’m glad you’re here. I found your baseball card collection!
Estelle: [yelling from the other room] I told you we didn’t throw them out!
Frank: [yelling] I thought I threw them out! [turning to George] Here you go. Just like you left ‘em.
George: [sarcastically] Well gee, thanks.
Frank: Now, of course, there’s the matter of my finder’s fee.
George: Finder’s fee?! You’re charging me a finder’s fee?!
Frank: Just a modest amount. Say, $50. If the cards are worth hundreds, that’s a small price to pay. Maybe they’re worth thousands!
[George peers at Frank incredulously.]
George: Thousands? Thousands?! I know you brought them to the shop and that they’re only worth $50!
Frank: [screaming] That’s because you didn’t take good care of them as a child!
George: [screaming back] I was eight years old!
Estelle: [screaming from the other room] You tried to sell George’s cards?!
Frank: [screaming back] I was saving him a trip!
[SCENE: KRAMER IS WALKING ON THE SIDEWALK WHILE CARRYING THE BUCKET OF BASEBALLS. KEITH HERNANDEZ IS WALKING NEXT TO HIM.]
Kramer: Keith, thanks again for doing this.
Keith: No problem. You really helped me out with my move.
[Kramer and Keith walk into the card shop.]
Kramer: Yeah, hey, remember me? [sarcastically] I brought my authentication. [points to Keith]
Shop owner: You signed all these?
Keith: Yes, sir. Twenty-five signed baseballs.
Shop owner: Alrighty, I’ll buy them. How’s 50 bucks sound?
Kramer: [taken aback] For all of them?
Shop owner: Yeah, I mean, no one’s really knocking down my doors for his autograph.
Keith: But I’m Keith Hernandez!
Kramer: 1979 National League MVP…
Keith: 11 Gold Gloves…
Shop owner: Listen, it will take me years to sell these. 50 bucks, take it or leave it.
Keith: Leave it! C’mon, Kramer, let’s go.
[Keith and Kramer walk out of the shop.]
[SCENE: ELAINE IS WALKING DOWN THE SIDEWALK HOLDING A SHOPPING BAG. SHE SEES KEITH HERNANDEZ WALKING TOWARD HER.]
Elaine: Hey, Keith!
Keith: Elaine! Good to see you again.
Elaine: Yeah! How are you doing?
Keith: Well, I helped Kramer try to sell some baseballs.
Elaine: I heard!
Keith: Would you believe the guy wouldn’t pay more than two bucks a ball? I mean, I’m Keith Hernandez!
Elaine: Yeah, wow, that’s rough.
[Awkward silence ensues for several seconds.]
Elaine: So, anyway…
Keith: Yeah, hey listen, I gotta get going. But it was great to see you again!
[Keith walks off in the opposite direction.]
[SCENE: OUTSIDE THE BASEBALL CARD SHOP. KRAMER HAS SET UP A TABLE ON THE SIDEWALK TO SELL HIS BASEBALLS.]
Kramer: [screaming] Keith Hernandez baseballs! Get your Keith Hernandez signed baseballs! Real authentic autographs!
[A man walks up to his table with a little kid.]
Man: Hey, how much for the baseballs?
Kramer: Hey! [addressing kid] Hey little man! These are signed Keith Hernandez baseballs. He was the 1979 National League MVP.
[The kid stares blankly at Kramer, who turns instead to the man.]
Kramer: They’re 25 bucks each.
Man: [hemming and hawing while looking at a baseball] And he really signed this?
Kramer: Oh, absolutely. Right in front of me. He –
[Kramer is interrupted by the shop owner opening the door to the shop, stepping out, and addressing the man and little kid.]
Shop owner: Hey guys! I’ve got a Keith Hernandez signed baseball in here. 20 bucks and it’s yours!
[The man and the kid start to walk toward the shop.]
Kramer: You don’t know that Keith Hernandez signed that ball! He definitely signed mine! [raising his voice] I watched him sign them!
[The man and the kid step foot in the shop.]
Kramer: [yelling] I helped him move!
[SCENE: JERRY’S APARTMENT. GEORGE AND JERRY ARE SITTING AT THE TABLE SORTING THROUGH GEORGE’S CARD COLLECTION.]
George: Every one of these cards is a story. [pulls a card out of the box] You remember how I got this 1968 Bill Monbouquette card and we took turns drawing facial hair on him?
Jerry: Yeah, we both hated him because he used to play for the Red Sox.
[Elaine walks into Jerry’s apartment, carrying her shopping bag.]
Elaine: Okay, now THIS you won’t believe. I saw Keith today on the street.
Elaine: And, I asked him how he was doing. And he told me. But he never asked how I was doing!
Jerry: It’s almost as if he doesn’t care.
[Kramer walks into Jerry’s apartment, carrying the bucket of baseballs. He walks over to the table and picks up a card.]
Kramer: Hey, Joe Pepitone! Oh man, I used to love him.
George: You want the card?
Kramer: Yeah, sure! You want a Keith Hernandez baseball?
[Kramer fishes a baseball out of the bucket and hands it to George.]
George: Keith Hernandez? [bass line outro starts to play] How do I know he really signed this?
[frame freezes, credits roll]