I'm constantly in search of new post ideas.
I don't know how others do things, but I have a spare notebook filled with a couple pages of possible topics to cover. If one comes to me, I simply write it down. It might take days, weeks, or months for me to post about it. If I get around to it at all, that is.
This post was one such idea that I'd had on the list for a couple months. As luck would have it, another blogger came around and wrote about it before I could convince myself to do so.
Mr. Shlabotnik has written about cardboard "doppelgangers" on his blog a couple times now. His posts got me to get off my butt and see if I could find any others in my own collection.
Not to mention the fact that he came up with a way better name for these things than I ever could.
What are doppelgangers, you ask?
They're two cards that use the same or similar photos on a card, with an emphasis on action shots.
Okay. Topps has been recycling the same images over and over the past few years. It's nothing special. What's the big deal?
A recycled image is when one company reuses the same photo. A doppelganger, on the other hand, is when two different companies use similar images.
With legends, it's understandable. Most companies have a limited number of photos to choose from, so that's why you used to see Topps and Upper Deck use the same image of Hank Aaron from time to time.
It's bound to happen.
More recent doppelgangers, however, are a mystery to me.
I was under the impression that card companies each hired individual photographers to snap pictures for their products. After discovering he world of doppelgangers, I'm not so sure.
For example, here's a nice horizontal shot of Brad Ausmus from 1993 Score Select Traded. (I don't think I knew Select released a Traded set until I found this card.)
You can see Ausmus's hand hovering over the ball, about to pick it up from the ground. His catcher's helmet is tumbling to the ground. A fellow Padre is on all fours, battling with Ausmus for the ball.
One question leapt through my mind the first time I saw this card.
Did he make the play?
Thanks to another Ausmus card in my collection, I might have the answer.
I'm about 99 percent sure that his '94 Pinnacle issue is a continuation of the Select one I just showed.
This shot looks to be from about the same spot in the field. The falling catcher's helmet on the other shot is now on the ground. The disembodied arm of Ausmus's teammate is barely visible on the far right. Ausmus now has a tight grip on the ball, in what looks to be plenty of time to retire the Dodger baserunner.
In actuality, this is only a semi-doppelganger because Score and Pinnacle cards were manufactured by the same company at the time.
But it gives you a good idea of what I'm looking for with these things.
A fairly famous doppelganger example is Rod Carew's 1982 Topps In-Action and Fleer issues.
Both companies somehow came into possession of the same exact awkward image of Carew sidestepping in what appears to be an attempt to snag a ground ball.
Unlike a lot of doppelgangers I've found, these aren't two shots snapped within a split-second of one another. These feature the exact same photograph.
I'm still not sure how that could've happened.
Maybe some sneaky photographer decided it'd be fun to double-cross Fleer and Topps.
Here's another Fleer/Topps controversy.
Fleer was on its last legs by 2005, so it makes sense that they'd try and hitch their wagon to the Topps train in any way they could.
Topps gave Ichiro an outstanding card in '05 to commemorate the historic 262-hit season he'd put up the year prior. Fleer used an extremely similar image that I think was snapped a split-second before the Topps one. Only they massacred it.
Where Topps used a wider image to get all of Ichiro's "safe" signal, Fleer zoomed in, cutting off a large part of his arms as a result. They made him look like some sort of demented Mariner scarecrow in the process.
I guess that's the dark side of doppelgangers.
Some of the more interesting doppelgangers I own feature the same play from completely different angles.
I'm pretty sure I own more "double dip" shots of Craig Biggio than any other player in my collection, so it makes sense that a couple would overlap.
Though these two images come from completely different points-of-view, I'm pretty sure they were taken during the same double play.
Biggio has just received the ball with Barry Bonds beginning to barrel down on him in his 1997 Topps issue. He begins the process of making the turn in '97 Collector's Choice.
Both feature Bonds making the same self-defense motion with his hands. The cloud of dust matches on each. The green outfield wall looks right.
All the true makings of a doppelganger.
I thought I'd show my favorite doppelganger to close things out tonight.
When I originally found this 2004 Bowman Adam Dunn in a dime box, I didn't notice anything strange about it. A perfectly nice shot of him leaping to make a grab, but nothing too special.
It took a couple looks to notice the beginnings of an American flag on the far right. My mind instantly shot to another Dunn card I owned.
Could it be?
I'm almost positive that these two photos were taken a split-second apart from different areas of the ballpark.
Bowman's image comes from Dunn's back. Upper Deck chose the more sensible approach and snapped a photo of him head-on, perfectly centering him in the middle of the American flag on the outfield wall.
The scoreboards seem to match. The "3" to Dunn's right on this shot seems to match where it would be from the point-of-view used on the Bowman card.
All signs point to a doppelganger.
I'll definitely be searching through my binders for more of these in the future. After all, things can seem a lot different when you look at them from a different angle.
A valuable life lesson brought to you by Adam Dunn and his fellow doppelgangers.