[Editor’s Note: Today we have a guest entry from reader Alan Topolski, who’s going to tell us about a very interesting uni-centric baseball card mystery he recently learned about. Enjoy! — PL]
By Alan Topolski
I’m a longtime avid baseball card collector. With the internet now providing a wealth of information that wasn’t previously available, I’ve been going back to some of the card sets from my youth. I have the complete sets for many years, but I’m also interested to see if there’s any new information or newly discovered errors or variations that might make for a fun addition to one of my existing sets.
Just to explain, there are several reasons why a particular card might be revised, resulting in multiple versions. The most obvious reason is that the original card might include an error or typo. In the 1981 Fleer set, for example, Steve Carlton’s 1966 stat line was mistakenly listed as “1066”:
Once the error was spotted, a corrected version was issued in the next printing.
In that same set, the back of Kevin Saucier’s name was mistakenly listed as “Ken” (Fleer had a real problem with Phillies pitchers that year):
Again, a corrected card was issued, resulting in two versions of that card.
Sometimes there is not a true error but just a difference between two (or more) cards. For example, all Orioles cards in the 1991 Topps set have black trim, but some versions of Chris Hoiles’s card have white trim:
That same set also has inconsistent trim on Robin Ventura’s card:
Yet another type of variation involves a given card company using different printers or different machines for manufacturing the cards, which can result in border differences (one slightly thinner than the other) or different color shades. You can see this in examples from the 1981 Fleer “Teams in Action” stickers, which feature big color inconsistencies because Fleer farmed out the printing to two different companies:
But none of those scenarios can explain the variations in the 1982 Fleer card for Twins pitcher Darrell Jackson. I recently discovered that there are actually three different versions of this card. Two of them are uni-inaccurate, and it’s not clear why they were even issued in the first place.
Let’s start with this: According to the “Dressed to the Nines” database, the Twins’ road uniforms in 1981 (the year the pictures were taken for the 1982 cards) and 1982 featured solid navy caps with the team’s familiar “TC” logo:
The most commonly found version of the Darrell Jackson card shows him wearing the proper navy road cap. But another version shows him in the team’s red home cap, and yet another version shows him in the red cap but without the TC logo:
Obviously, the two red-capped versions were airbrushed — but why? Why would Fleer go out of its way to create uni-inaccurate designs?
Although I only recently learned about this card variation, I’m definitely not the first one to notice it. Since I couldn’t find a good explanation for it, I started a thread on the Trading Card Database to see if anyone knows more. There are lots of knowledgeable people on that site, so I’m hoping someone will have more information. It’s definitely a Uni Watch-worthy mystery!
Paul here. I love this! Big thanks to Alan for sharing it with us.
As long as we’re talking about uni-unusual baseball cards, reader Ben Phelps recently asked me about this 1992 Topps Stadium Club card for Cubs shortstop Shawon Dunston, which appears to show both Dunston and Atlanta outfielder David Justice wearing their teams’ respective home uniforms:
I asked about that one on Twitter, and the consensus among many observers was that the original photo just showed Justice, and then Dunston was superimposed into the image.