Robert Leroy Ripley was the Marco Polo of the 20th century. He traveled the planet in quest of the miraculous, grotesque and bizarre, ultimately leading a life as improbable and uncanny as his famous cartoon strip -- Believe it or Not Leroy Ripley was born on Christmas Day 1893 in Santa Rosa. He was a curious child who loved art, especially cartoons, and sports. Despite a frustrating stammer, Ripley plunged into his passions, selling his first cartoon, "The Village Belles Were Slowly Wringing," depicting women washing clothes, to Life magazine at the age of 13. In 1909 he became the sports cartoonist for the San Francisco Bulletin, then for the San Francisco Chronicle, earning a whopping $8 a week! Regardless of his artistic bent, Leroy dreamed of a baseball career. In 1912 he left the Chronicle and headed to New York, where he tried out for the Giants baseball team. In his first professional game he shattered his arm and his dream.