Thursday, August 16, 2012

A comedy of errors

In this hobby, mistakes are bound to happen.

The number of different types of errors out there are almost innumerable. "No name" errors, statistical errors, reverse negative errors.

To put it shortly, there's a lot of 'em.

As long as they don't happen too often, I love it when a mistake sneaks onto the baseball card market. "Error cards" are one of the many mini-collections I'm currently building. It almost became a new "theme" on this blog, back when I was searching for ideas.

It's still on the table for future theme considerations.

However, there is one certain type of error that's a personal favorite of mine.

The "player swap".

In rare cases, a company will accidentally feature a photo of one player, when the card was actually meant to feature another.

Take the above card, for instance.

The awesome picture alone was enough to get me to buy that card. Only later did I find out that the player pictured on the front isn't one-time Brewers infielder Mark Loretta.

It's longtime relief pitcher Curtis Leskanic.

Like I said, mistakes are bound to happen sometimes.

I always had a suspicion that something wasn't right on this card.

Right now, there's around 60 cards of Francisco Rodriguez sitting in my Angels binder. Early on, I noticed that he was wearing number 57 on every single one of them.

Except this one.

My fascination with these "error cards" is somewhat of a new thing, so I never thought to see if it was a "player swap". I went my entire high school collecting life thinking that "K-Rod" switched to number 54 for a while in 2005, for some reason.

But my newfangled "error" fad inspired me to do a little research on this card.

It didn't take me long to find out that the folks in charge of producing the 2006 Bazooka set had a bit of a slip-up.

Francisco Rodriguez is nowhere to be found on this card.

Instead, they mistakenly used a photo of current Angels hurler Ervin Santana.

That instantly explained the whole #54 thing.

These "player swaps" go all the way back to 1959, at least as far as my collection is concerned.

Had it not been for my dad's keen eye, I could've gone the rest of my life without knowing of this "player swap" mistake.

My dad included this one as part of a tremendous birthday gift, knowing about my interest in cards like these.

This 1959 Topps card of Ralph Lumenti actually pictures longtime big league hurler Camilo Pascual.

I'll admit, I'd never heard of Lumenti before my dad got me this card. After all, he only pitched in 13 games over three big league seasons.

I don't think I'm the only one, though.

Lumenti's page on "baseball-reference" features this same photo for his player bio.


It's ironic that Jose Bautista is a member of the "player swap" club, given how much of an impact he's had on the game in recent years.

Before his recent power explosion, "Joey Bats" was a mediocre third baseman for the dismal Pirates teams of the late-2000's.

As with the "K-Rod", I'd always speculated that the player on the front of this card wasn't Bautista.

Turns out I was right.

It's actually former Pirates second baseman Jose Castillo.

Given that part of my binder organization methods involve grouping all the cards of a player together, these can present a bit of a problem.

Where do they go? Under the player that was supposed to be featured on the card, or the player that is actually pictured on the card?

For now, I've gone with the player that was supposed to be featured, although I'm still a bit torn on that choice.

My "policy" might be subject to a slight adjustment in the future.

This card could be categorized under the title of "family swap".

It's also one of my personal favorites.

Angels outfielder Gary Pettis pulled a fast one on Topps. Apparently, the photographer didn't realize that Pettis skipped the photo shoot.

As a result, Gary Pettis's 1985 Topps issue actually features his younger brother.

Pettis wasn't the only Angel to dupe the photographers at Topps.

The other made for one of the most often-discussed cards in cardboard history.

Aurelio Rodriguez had a long major league career, lasting from 1967 to 1983.

Even so, the first thing that comes to mind whenever I hear his name is "the guy that pulled the ultimate 'Gotcha!' on Topps".

Like Pettis, Rodriguez decided to have a little fun with the Topps photographer when the time came to have his picture taken.

So he had the batboy "pinch hit" for him on his 1969 Topps issue.

Nope, that's not Angels third sacker Aurelio Rodriguez on this card.

It's the Angels batboy.

I wonder if Topps fired the photographer that took the now-famous photo. I'd be inclined to think so.

Quick-witted readers might notice a certain "player swap" card that I omitted from this post. But not to worry.

It will be featured in one of my theme posts in the very near future. It's one of the "gems of junk wax".

For now, let's enjoy this collection of "player swaps". Who knows, perhaps there's more out there that I don't yet know about.

Sometimes, baseball cards can mimic some of the most important lessons in life. These error cards are no exception.

After all, nobody's perfect.


Hackenbush said...

In my world the top one is the 1963 Topps card that featured a young Ron Santo in place of Don Landrum. Don appeared in my February 16 birthday post right after John McEnroe:

mmosley said...

Do you have the Alex Cole card that is really Otis Nixon? If not, I'll send it your way.

night owl said...

My personal favorite set -- 1975 Topps -- has two of those cards:

Steve Busby's card features a photo of Fran Healy
Larry Haney's card features a photo of Dave Duncan

Chuck's Used Cards said...

To err is human, to forgive divine, and to dupe Topps - priceless.

There have been a few world cup soccer set that had a hard time keeping the players photos true. The 1982 Monty Gum is probably the worst ever error riddled set.

Hey, that gives me an idea for a write-up ...