Six Awesome Sports Card Errors
Everyone makes mistakes. For most of us, this is how we learn. Sometimes, it seems to be the only way.
The other day, I popped into my local hobby shop with no real plan. To be honest, I was just going to grab some supplies, but being weak in my in my ability to resist, I decided to rip a pack of 2010 Donruss Elite Baseball. I cracked it open and pulled some pitching prospect's autograph card.
"Well, that's the mojo for the day," I thought. After a few more minutes of sniffing around the shop, I paid for my supplies and left.
I stopped at a light driving home and reached in the bag, pulling out the auto card. I stared at it front and back, trying to figure out exactly who this guy was. Through my teaching, and now habit, I always look at the "condition" of the signature on the card. Something didn't seem right. This name on the card was Jordan Swagerty. Now, I am no handwriting expert, but I 'm aware of what a "J" and "S" look like. I couldn't make out either. The light changed and I drove off.
When I got home I went to the place of all-knowing, the Internet. Very quickly I found an answer to my suspicion: this was not the autograph of Jordan Swagerty. It was Magic Johnson. Yes, that Magic Johnson. The basketball Hall of Famer. The guy with all the nice suits and the Cheshire Cat smile.
All of a sudden it hit me. I'd read about this mistake months ago. I called my wife in and told her. She asked, "Do you think someone got fired for that error?"
"I don't know, but that is a pretty huge error," I replied.
I just stared at that card for about five or ten minutes. I couldn't believe the insanity I was holding in my hand. It was awesome.
Much like baseball, the sports card universe is not immune from human error. There have been many examples since the beginning our hobby. And now, ladies and gentleman, here are my favorites:
6) 1969 Topps Baseball Aurelio Rodriguez
This card didn't have a picture of Aurelio. Instead, it was Leonard Garcia, the Angels' bat boy! That's definitely the coolest way to become the most popular kid in class.
5) 1991 Stadium Club Football Brett Favre
This gem was perfect. That is, until someone realized they misspelled Brett's last name, FARVE. Really can't blame them for that one.
4) 1990 Donruss "MVP" Baseball John Smoltz
This is another example of right name, wrong face. John's picture on this card was ironically, Tom Glavine. In the mid-1990s, I got them mixed up too.
3) 1979 Topps Baseball Bump Willis
One of the first "error" cards to receive some national attention. Bump had his Texas Rangers uniform on in his picture, yet had the Blue Jays under his name. Three decades later, I'm still confused.
2) 1990 Topps Baseball Frank “The Big Hurt" Thomas (No Name on Front)
Frank must have been so proud to see his rookie card. They just forgot to put his name on it. This can go under the "my bad" section. It can also go under the file "rare and valuable cards few will ever own."
1) 1989 Fleer Baseball Billy Ripken
This is by far my favorite. More than 20 years later, it's still a collector favorite seeping in legend. Billy was pictured holding his bat, a very mundane and cliché baseball card pose. But if you take a closer look, there's a two-word phrase written on the end of the bat knob. Let's just say both words started with "F", the first word rhymes with "truck" and the last word was "Face." Classic. In the ensuing fallout, Fleer issued a handful of variations trying to cover up their "mistake." However none come close to the card that's now known by many as the Billy Ripken "Rick Face."
There are many more error cards that deserve our attention and add a unique moment for us as collectors. Since none of us are perfect, I say we appreciate our flaws. Sometimes "errors" can be gold, in life and in our hobby.