Topps corrects Lou Gehrig Triple Threads error — with a cut autograph

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By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor

Topps has corrected a high-profile mistake on a high-profile game-used memorabilia card for an Arizona-based collector in a pretty grand fashion.

With a cut autograph.

Chris Malav originally received the 2010 Triple Threads Bat Knobs booklet card of New York Yankees legend Lou Gehrig as a gift from a family member last year. In September he needed to sell the card and when it hit eBay, many collectors noted that the two game-used memorabilia pieces on its left panel were not made of fabric used for uniforms during Gehrig’s playing days. That’s when Topps called.

“I want to acknowledge [Chris Olds] for your observation and article and Mark Sapir at Topps for going beyond doing the right thing,” said Malav, a thirtysomething long-time collector of autograph cuts and 1/1 cards. “Maybe this card can generate enough interest and put some ‘spark’ back in the hobby.”


The game-used swatches previously placed into the card.

Malav said he “got a ton of emails on eBay” after the Beckett story, which noted that Topps would be looking into what happened in its processes for the mistake to happen.

“[I] also suspected something was ‘off’ when [the auction] got over 800 hits in less than 24 hours,” he said.

After the card made the rounds, Topps contacted Malav.

“I was initially contacted by Topps management to see if the card could be sent to them for review,” he said. “After they reviewed the card, they said they were going to correct the problem. During the past three months, we have maintained contact with each other throughout the process.”

Landing such an impressive card is rare — but a glaring mistake on a card of that caliber was one that disappointed many collectors. Now, though, it’s way more impressive to Malav.

“The card was already incredible because it had Mr. Gehrig’s game-used bat knob alone,” he said. “But now it is off the charts with the cut auto! Also, very cool that it has a story behind it, too.”

So, what are Malav’s future plans for the card?

“Ideally, I would like to pass it on as an inheritance — we are talking about a game-used bat knob and cut autograph from one of top ballplayers of all time,” he said.

“But the reality is, we all have bills.”

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball magazine. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an email to him at Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.


  1. wampier
    Posted Friday January 6th, 2012 at 12:50 PM | Permalink

    Which was stolen from my thread:

    From mod: Not quite.

  2. Posted Friday January 6th, 2012 at 12:57 PM | Permalink

    Maybe Topps should have better quality control and start actually putting statements on the back of the cards that state the source of the certified memorabilia placed on the card and how it was authenticated. Or, maybe, MLB and the MLBPA should actually issue meaningful sanctions against Topps for crap like this.

    Oh, wait, none of those things will actually happen.

  3. chrisolds
    Posted Friday January 6th, 2012 at 01:47 PM | Permalink

    Wampier: The card was being talked about by many collectors in many areas — I think someone told me about it via Twitter.

  4. Carnie
    Posted Friday January 6th, 2012 at 02:16 PM | Permalink

    “Maybe this card can generate enough interest and put some ‘spark’ back in the hobby.”

    LOL. Nope. The hobby is on life-support. Lack of innovation is going to kill it eventually.

  5. Richard
    Posted Friday January 6th, 2012 at 03:10 PM | Permalink

    Seems they are still kind of lazy here.
    Instead of creating a new card and transplanting the know, they just cut out the
    fabric and inserted the cut.

    Now it’s a nice thing to do, but it seems sill that it says game used memorabilia under
    a cut check.

    I’m glad they did the right thing, but its still amazing that it could happen in the first place.
    One has to wonder if not for the public embarrassment and potential threat to their
    bottom line (loss of business) whether or not something would have happened.

  6. JayKayZee
    Posted Friday January 6th, 2012 at 07:37 PM | Permalink

    It will probably be later revealed that the Game-used “Bat Knob” is in fact the end of the broomstick they used to sweep out the men’s room at the Polo Grounds…I’m being satirical, but it would not surprise me anymore

  7. Josh
    Posted Saturday January 7th, 2012 at 01:03 AM | Permalink

    Unreal. Maybe if all the rest of the people who have had problems with topps got their issues as publicized we wouldn’t get screwed when they were “making it right”. If this card doesn’t get the kind of attention it got (media wise), he’s getting a AA flunky game used card and a photocopied generic “we’re sorry we suck” letter. Way to go topps, you’re still horrible.

  8. Posted Saturday January 7th, 2012 at 10:45 AM | Permalink

    hi Chris, this is just another emample why I wont by Topps products. I personally collect game used materials of the like of ruth, mantle, gehrig, etc… As another example fromTopps is the
    Sultan of Swat cards of Ruth the materials used for thes cards are mainly pure white in color along with the pinstripes being a dark blackish blue with the stitching looking like little “L” SWIRLS. CLEARLY NOT RUTH OR ANY YANKEE PINSTRIPE PATTERN. wHEN dONRUSS PUT OUT


  9. chrisolds
    Posted Saturday January 7th, 2012 at 03:07 PM | Permalink

    Rick: Most card companies don’t publicize their auction acquisitions — because if unique it gives away their plans to others who might try to do the same things.


    Item was bought at auction via Heritage. There are *plenty* of high-profile auctions and items out there regularly sold through major auction houses. Sometimes, card companies are buyers — sometimes they are not.

  10. George McFly
    Posted Saturday January 7th, 2012 at 10:39 PM | Permalink

    It seems to be a lot of “Game Used” cards produced usually state it was worn in game, with a lot of the times never specifying it was worn by the player on the card.

  11. Posted Monday January 9th, 2012 at 10:28 AM | Permalink

    You know how Topps gets away with it? They put the disclaimer on the back of the card stating “The items contained in this card are not from any specific game, event or season.” That means that the jerseys or bats they place in the cards don’t even have to have been used in a major league game. The stuff they put in the cards could have been used almost anywhere; a liquor store opening, softball game, a photo shoot. I don’t know how Topps gets away with stating that the items are game used when the disclaimer on the back of the card states otherwise.

  12. chrisolds
    Posted Monday January 9th, 2012 at 10:40 AM | Permalink

    Ken: I love that line. You’re not correct, you know … it means that the specific date that the item was used is not known.

    For example, check out this PSA/DNA approved game-used bat:

    Because of its markings, it could be from anytime between 2006 and 2008 …

  13. CP30
    Posted Monday January 9th, 2012 at 10:50 AM | Permalink

    i wish companies would put the exact date the jersey was worn on the back of the card. is that possible? like: this jersey was worn september 5th, 2001 in a game vs the reds.

  14. chrisolds
    Posted Monday January 9th, 2012 at 11:16 AM | Permalink

    Larry: Because every single item is not MLB authenticated and game-dated. In fact, I own a 2005 jersey for a player that wasn’t even tagged by MLB authentication until 2006, meaning it sat in storage in the team’s possession for a year.

    When MLBA stickered it, they didn’t know if it was even used — let alone from what day — so my jersey was stickered as game-issued.

    You’re presuming the worst when, in reality, they’re not going to promise you something they do not know.

    CP30: See above. Game-dating is not possible in a majority of instances.

  15. KEN
    Posted Monday January 9th, 2012 at 11:29 AM | Permalink

    It’s sad that Topps makes major mistakes on the high dollar pulls that help generate the sales of many of their products. I pulled a Ty Cobb bat nameplate card from their 2008 Triple Threads that has what looks like 2 Yankee pinstripes as authentic game worn patches. The 2 swatche’s pinstripes are each of a different pattern. Did Cobb ever wear a pinestripe jersey? This card was pictured in Beckett Sports Card Monthly July 2009 issue on page 23.

  16. chrisolds
    Posted Monday January 9th, 2012 at 12:07 PM | Permalink

    Ken: It didn’t take me long, but a quick search of the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Dressed to the Nines uniform history database shows that the Tigers wore pinstripes on one uni style in 1915.

    I stopped searching after that — but there were other years:

  17. Posted Monday January 9th, 2012 at 12:16 PM | Permalink

    Hi Chris, thanks for your comment. So what you are saying is that Topps knows that these items they are placing on the cards are actually game used, and not just game issued? How can they be so sure when it comes to items from such players as Ruth, Gehrig, Wagner and Cobb? For instance, Gehrig’s last year was 1939, and I believe Ruth’s last year was 1935. You are talking about jerseys and bats that are close to 75 to 80 years old. How can Topps verify that items that they pick up at auctions are really game used? I would think that items such as these are extremely rare to find, let alone extremely expensive to purchase, but Topps seems to be putting out an unlimited amount of Ruth and Gehrig game used cards, and if that is the case it appears that they have an unlimited supply of these materials.

  18. chrisolds
    Posted Monday January 9th, 2012 at 12:32 PM | Permalink


    In the distant past, it was common for teams to wear one or two sets of uniforms for the whole season. (Origin of road uniforms being gray is that gray hid dirt easier just in case there was not a chance to clean unis during road trips…) “Game-issued” is more of a modern-day creation as unis are prepped left and right for players for various uses and because players and teams have side deals to sell unis once used.

    If jerseys are not MLB authenticated — i.e. stickered as game-used when an authenticator sees it used by the player — then the items need to be authenticated by an expert on game-used as many items are that are sold via auction houses.

    Most sports leagues require that card companies’ mem items can only be purchased via approved vendors. (If a company gets caught with problem items, they will be likely removed from the list.)

    Letters and statements of authenticity from reputable authenticators of game-used items — experts — along with provenance if the item are the best ways to be sure an item is real if it cannot be photo-matched.

    It’s not a fool-proof science. Images are not available for every player and every single game ever played.

    See the upcoming BSCM Game-used issue for a little more on this.

    Oh, and be assured that a single jersey can go a long way in terms of the number of cards made — they *have* to make items last for the amounts of money paid for them.

  19. steve-o
    Posted Monday January 9th, 2012 at 11:27 PM | Permalink

    interesting & sad both……except for the political defense comments of the statement being made on this topic above; all of them seem to be of the NEGATIVE TONE

  20. chrisolds
    Posted Tuesday January 10th, 2012 at 09:41 AM | Permalink

    Steve: There’s no “political defense” going on here. I understand how the process works and am not blinded by idealistic “wants.”

    I also understand the realities of how authentication works — and that speciific game-dated materials are not available a majority of the time.

  21. chrisolds
    Posted Tuesday January 10th, 2012 at 09:45 AM | Permalink

    George: Yep, that trend by at least one company has always worried me a bit. But I am not losing sleep over it.

  22. Posted Tuesday January 10th, 2012 at 12:47 PM | Permalink

    Topps is not the only one that makes mistakes with game used material. All sports card manufacturers have made mistakes. Topps is the only one I know of or read about that have corrected an error that they caused. Making the collector of the card more than happy with that auto. I congratulate Topps for correcting the error.

    How can “we collectors” know that game used is actually worn by the player on the card? We can’t… we have to trust these big name card manufacturers… Still I do not trust them, but will continue to buy their products if they can keep the cost down for an average collector.

2 Trackbacks

  1. […] Triple threads mistake fixed in a big way Dumb mistake but cool ending to the story… Beckett News Topps corrects Lou Gehrig Triple Threads error — with a cut autograph __________________ EBAY USER NAME […]

  2. By My Hesitence Over 2011 Leaf Ink Cuts | 14,000 Phillies on Wednesday January 11th, 2012 at 07:34 PM

    […] has been an issue ever since the card manufacturers started issuing cut autos. Compounding this, recent events regarding a Triple Thread Lou Gehrig memorabilia card make me that much more hesitant to purchase any card with a rare piece of memorabilia or autograph. […]

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