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6 Terrible Baseball Card Mistakes

September 24, 2015

Did you collect baseball cards when you were a kid? If so, did you notice these really bad errors that somehow got past the editors?

Baseball Cards

  • In 1989, Bill Ripken (younger brother of Cal Ripken, Jr.) was a rookie with the Baltimore Orioles and Fleer produced a card of him in its set for the year. It had a tremendously nasty error on it that sent the value (and secondary market price) for the card sky-high, as much as $75. The error: In the picture, Ripken is standing with a bat on his shoulder, and written on the bottom of the bat is a very nasty F-word derivative. At the time, Ripken claimed a teammate wrote it on there as a way to label the bat a batting practice bat, and he had no idea he’d held it up to the camera. He later admitted to writing the bad word himself.
  • Even in the immediate wake of the Ripken incident, card printers didn’t get more vigilant. In the 1990 Pacific Senior League card set, outfielder Jim Nettles posed with a bat on his shoulder, like Ripken, and wrote a bad word on the bottom of the bat, like Ripken. This time it was the A-word.
  • Detroit Tigers pitcher Paul Gibson got a photograph of himself in action on the mound for his 1989 Score trading card. In the background is a teammate very clearly, uh, “adjusting himself.”
  • The first run of the 1974 Topps baseball card set featured the new team in Washington, D.C. Except there was no team in Washington, D.C. During the offseason the San Diego Padres almost moved there, but then didn’t, but Topps erred on the side of caution and printed 15 Padres player cards with their team listed as “Washington National League.”
  • The first Barry Bonds card printed by Donruss in 1987 forgot one major element: Barry Bonds. The picture is of his Pittsburgh Pirates teammate Johnny Ray.
  • Topps remembered to put Frank Thomas on his 1990 card, but forgot to put the name “Frank Thomas.” Or anybody’s name—it was blank.
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Don’t forget the Topps ’72 card of Billy Martin, then Detroit Tigers manager, leaning on his bat with an middle finger extended down the grip. Others have done it but Billy’s is iconic!

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