On Aug. 14, 1997, a partial electrical failure at Oriole Park at Camden Yards affected a bank of lights along the first base line and led to the postponement of a game between the Baltimore Orioles and Seattle Mariners. Beyond leaving the sellout crowd and players from both teams frustrated, the bizarre incident sparked a salacious rumor involving Cal Ripken Jr. and Kevin Costner that persists to this day.

A common version of the rumor, which Ripken and Costner have denied and fact-checking website Snopes declared to be false in 2001, goes something like this: On the day of the postponement, Ripken allegedly found his then-wife, Kelly, in bed with Costner, and an altercation ensued. According to legend, because he was either injured or in police custody as a result, the Iron Man was unable to make it to the ballpark on time, so someone intentionally tampered with the lights to preserve his record consecutive games played streak.

The details of that night in Baltimore nearly 25 years ago and the apocryphal tale it spawned are the subject of a narrative podcast set to be released Monday and hosted by die-hard Orioles fans Sam Dingman and Mac Montandon. In the series, aptly titled “The Rumor” and produced by Blue Wire, Dingman and Montandon take a serious and satirical look at the debunked narrative while simultaneously exploring deeper — and often personal — themes related to fandom and the mythologies people choose to believe.

“It’s about fandom, conspiracy, rumor, innuendo and how much the truth matters,” executive producer Peter Moses said. “This has been a really cool project for all of us to kind of ask those questions of ourselves as we’re making it, and I hope that those conversations that we’ve had are something that people can connect with outside of whether this rumor is true.”

(Warning: The trailer below contains explicit language.)

As baseball fans who worshiped Ripken and lived their lives according to the Oriole Way growing up, Dingman and Montandon were familiar with the rumor, but neither gave it much credence. Then, in early 2020, Montandon attended a party where the writer and editor struck up a conversation with an off-duty police officer who claimed the whole thing was true. The chance encounter prompted dozens of interviews in search of answers.

Dingman has long had a fascination with “interrogating the difference between lore and fact.” For the past five years, he has hosted the “Family Ghosts” podcast, in which he investigates secrets, myths and legends about mysterious family members passed on from generation to generation.

Dingman said he and Montandon, who met in 2014, were apprehensive about pursuing this particular project, not only because they were concerned about reopening old wounds for the people involved but also because they feared what they might uncover about Ripken, their childhood hero and the personification of integrity.

“We remain conflicted,” Montandon said in a phone interview. “At no point in this reporting journey have we been like, ‘Okay, we’re absolutely doing the right thing here.’ That’s part of the story. It’s complicated business tearing away at your idols.”

Rather than gossip-mongering, Dingman and Montandon take a careful, reporter’s approach to examining the story. For a rumor that originated before social media, this one features a good deal of source material.

Costner was photographed with Cal and Kelly Ripken at the “Dances With Wolves” premiere at the Kennedy Center in 1990, and the actor took batting practice at Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium in July 1991. When Ripken announced his retirement in 2001, sports radio host Chuck Booms rehashed the rumor, which began circulating in the days following the postponement, during a segment on Fox Sports Radio’s “Kiley & Booms” show. An outraged Costner got word of the discussion and called into the show the next day to offer a denial.

“If there is something alleged, I’d love to see someone come forward,” Costner said, in part, according to the Los Angeles Times. “No one will, because they don’t have the story to do it. There would be big money for a story like this, but it simply is not true.”

Costner told Booms he had met Kelly Ripken twice and had “talked to her for a total of about 10 minutes.” He also said he had never been to the Ripken home.

Blue Wire researcher Mariam Khan spent months tracking down the audio of Costner’s interview, but for reasons that remain unclear, after Fox Sports Radio initially granted Dingman and Montandon permission to use it in their podcast, the network changed its mind.

Ripken addressed the rumor during a 2008 interview with Neal Conan on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation.” The question came in the form of a listener email from Patrick in Jacksonville, Fla., who added, “Why, if the story goes the way some of us had heard it, real O’s fans can’t blame you for it.”

“It’s easy to check the facts of that one,” Ripken, who broke Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games played record in September 1995, said. “I remember it very well. The bank of lights went off, and Randy Johnson was pitching for the Seattle Mariners. And we were deciding what to do about that. Was there enough visible light out there to actually see a guy throwing over 100 miles per hour? The bank was just over our dugout. And I physically went out and tested it for the umpire. I was in discussion with the umpires. I was definitely there. I was ready to play.”

That’s all true. Newspaper accounts describe Ripken playing catch with Orioles infielder Jeff Reboulet around the time a decision to postpone the game was made after 9 p.m., but the lack of understanding about what caused the electrical failure only fuels the speculation that foul play was involved. Sherman Kerbel, director of facilities management for the Maryland Stadium Authority, told The Washington Post that the outage was “a new phenomenon.”

Cal and Kelly Ripken divorced in 2016, and Cal remarried in 2018. If the Hall of Famer holds a grudge against Costner for alleged past transgressions, it apparently hasn’t affected what he thinks of his acting. In a 2017 interview with The Post, Ripken said his favorite baseball movie was “Bull Durham,” in which Costner plays a veteran minor league catcher.

Through their representatives, Ripken and Costner declined to participate in the podcast.

“Obviously, we would feel like it’s the most complete version of the story to have their input,” Dingman said.

While attempting to determine what really happened Aug. 14, 1997, is the thread that binds “The Rumor,” Dingman and Montandon also ruminate on Ripken’s consecutive games streak, why these sorts of stories are passed on and how so many of their childhood memories are connected to their shared love for a team and deep admiration for a player they never really knew. What would happen if they managed to uncover the truth? Did they even want to?

“We feel like we ask a pretty provocative question with the story,” Dingman said, “and we feel like we deliver a pretty satisfying answer.”