Once a baseball card is released, it's out there forever - there's no taking it back.
Over the years, it's become obvious that card companies, like us humans, aren't perfect. Error cards are a fun little rabbit hole of this hobby, and the ones I find the most entertaining are the hallowed "player swaps" - i.e., cards that actually feature a different player than whoever was meant to be shown on said card. They range from understandable to bizarre, from laughable to morbid.
You probably know about some of the famous ones already - like the infamous '69 Topps batboy fiasco or the time Gary Pettis had his younger brother sit for a Topps photo - but I thought I'd share some other snafus that don't often get a ton of airtime.
I don't know when I first became aware player swaps existed, but I'm fairly certain this 2006 Bazooka screw-up was the first one I noticed all on my own.
I've been a Francisco Rodriguez fan for a long time now, and although I doubt I knew who was actually featured on this card at the time (it's Ervin Santana), I knew it wasn't my beloved K-Rod.
I suppose I can understand how a company could get a couple no-name dudes mixed up, but can someone please explain how Donruss managed to swap two aces and future HOFers?!
In today's technology-driven world, you'd think this kind of thing wouldn't happen anymore - and you'd be wrong.
I can't say I noticed it when 2017 Topps was first released, but I remember people being quick to point out that fellow Met Eric Campbell is actually pictured on Lucas Duda's card that year.
From what I can gather, not many of these player swaps were ever corrected - they're just kinda left out there to forever float around the universe.
I can see why. I'm sure it takes a lot of money and manpower to completely pull a card from the presses, not to mention create and print a new one to replace it. So I give Topps credit for taking the effort to correct a mix-up in their '88 Topps set where they actually used a picture of one-time prospect Chris George (who never played a major-league game) in place of the correctly-predicted "Future Star" Al Leiter.
(There's also a corrected version of the aforementioned '90 Donruss Glavine/Smoltz that I don't own...yet.)
My mind was blown more recently than I'd care to admit when I found out that three dudes are featured on this fun '73 Topps card, and none of them are Joe Rudi.
It seems obvious now - that's Gene Tenace at center and I'm not sure who the other two A's are - but I guess that's a lesson for all of us to look more closely at our baseball cards.
I find it incredible that a card company could manage to let a mixed-up Ernie Banks card go to press.
Granted, I don't know who's actually pictured here, but a split-second look tells you it ain't Ernie.
There's a couple notable player swaps in '63 Topps, and better yet, they actually feature a pair of cardboard favorites in Ryne Duren and Ron Santo.
(The fact that Topps seems to have gotten the inset photos right makes these even weirder.)
Aurelio Rodriguez and Gary Pettis get most of the headlines, but for my money they're not even close to being the most disastrous "player swap" in cardboard history.
No, that dubious honor has to go to this '66 Topps Dick Ellsworth, a card that actually features Cub infielder Ken Hubbs (the fielding pose probably should've been a giveaway). What makes this card so strange is that Hubbs died in a plane crash two years earlier. I see no explanation of how something this egregious could've happened, but darn if it doesn't make for a fascinating tidbit of cardboard conversation.
Card companies will forever be under the microscope, and I suppose I'm thankful my life isn't treated the same way - here's hoping a random blogger won't still be pointing out that stack of books I dropped at work 60 years from now.