Lou Gehrig: The real deal? A mistake? An altered card? Something else? Take our poll …

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By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor | Commentary

With a barrage of 2011 Topps Triple Threads baseball cards hitting eBay today — the product’s official release date — there are plenty of eyes looking for what are typically some of the hobby’s most talked-about cards from what is always a contender for Product of the Year honors.

It’s just that popular with many collectors.

However, a Triple Threads Bat Knobs card of Lou Gehrig from last year‘s release hit eBay with a hefty price tag and with some features that quite a few collectors noticed because it seemed, well, odd. The two game-used memorabilia swatches on the card appear to be from a modern jersey — not the flannels of Gehrig’s time.

Your guess on Gehrig

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Obviously, there are a few possibilities here. Topps responded to a question about the card saying it will look into what might have happened. My leading candidate is that it’s a simple mistake as the materials in this card do not match the fabrics from the company’s other recently released memorabilia cards featuring Gehrig.

Mistakes happen. Collectors wish that mistakes wouldn’t happen on such an impressive card, but they happen.

What do you think? Take the poll.

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

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  1. Richard 28 September, 2011 at 15:16

    The current disclaimers from Topps make it harder and harder to accept that the
    current crop of “game used” has the same meaning as desired by the collector.

    You will not that only the BAT knob on that card is guaranteed to be used by Gehrig.
    The Jersey could have been “used” by a bat boy, on any team, at any level, and Topps
    would still be holding up it’s COA.

  2. Ben 28 September, 2011 at 16:56

    I’ve never understood the lure of these cards, i’m sure some of them are legitimate but I think 90% are just random pieces of white uniform. I have seen cards before where they put a picture of the actual uniform the piece was taken from, that’s slightly more comforting but I’d prefer if they made far less of them… only used portions with an actual patch and took up most of the card. Preferably some visible dirt stain. Otherwise just autos are fine. I think the only “mistake” made here is they thought nobody would notice.

  3. Nils 28 September, 2011 at 17:25

    GOD what a shame, they didn’t even try to make us believe.

    I remember a similar case about last years Topps Sterling. A mem-card of Honus Wagner also contained modern type jersey swatches.

    Such “mistakes” shouldn’t happen in higher End Products like Sterling or Triple Threads.

    If Gehrig would see that, he would consider himself as the sadest man on the Face of the Earth.

  4. Brian 28 September, 2011 at 18:07

    what about when Mark Ingram posted a photo of himself wearing 25 jerseys at one time just to make them event-worn..The bat knob may be from Gehrig, but no way in he** the jersey pieces are

  5. Wampier 28 September, 2011 at 20:21

    The game used phenomenon started with statements saying that it was used by abc in an official mob game. Some have even included the pic of the item…

  6. Joe 28 September, 2011 at 20:31

    I’ve been saying this for a few years. The back of the card is the COA, not the front. Read the back. Most of the COA’s says something like this, “YOU HAVE JUST RECEIVED AN AUTHENTIC JERSEY CARD OF ALBERT PUJOLS.” It does not say that it is game used or if he actualy wore the jersey just the fact that it is an offical MLB Licensed jersey, so technically they did not lie. This problem is not only with Topps but with Panini and Upper Deck. I think what it comes down to, is the card companies just are not sure if it is a game used piece. Topps even put on their COA, “That the jersey is not from any game or particular season.” What????? and we accept that. 2002 Playoff Abolute was the only product that I know of that gave you the date of the actual game that the jersey and football came from. This is what we need to start demanding from the card companies. Give us the date that the memorabilia piece is from. We collectors are spending a lot of money and we don’t even know what we are getting.

  7. Mike 28 September, 2011 at 21:38

    Simply amazing that nearly every premium product made by them over the last yr has haf big time major goofs.

  8. Houdini 28 September, 2011 at 23:25

    I think it is a shame… it is clearly fake and I am leaning towards a mistake by Topps as I do not see the advantage of the owner doing it… unless the card was damaged somehow.

  9. Nathan Crandell 29 September, 2011 at 01:46

    The problem that arises with the authentication by date verification, is that prices go up. I am not a poor person, but I cant spend money on high-end products like Sterling or Marquis. And if they start putting the dates worn on the jersey cards, more than likely more products will be near the current price range of Sterling and Marquis.

  10. Ben 29 September, 2011 at 04:25

    I’ve been collecting for years, and although I switched over from baseball cards, stamps, and coins/currency a few years back I always understood that these values are solely based on what some one person would be willing to pay for it (coins minted in America, with some exceptions, are now worth basically their weight in metal, whereas 15-20 years ago there was a wealth of small shops and people willing to buy/sell/trade; coincidentally, the value has dropped). It’s the Pokemon fad – I wish I had one of those “mistakes”! (I also have a hard time believing that it’s actually a mistake, because errors boost value – I wouldn’t be surprised if in 5 years that card is bringing in more money than any other cards from the past decade!)

    Anyways, just my thoughts… for what they’re worth. (here’s hoping my 2 cents of thoughts haven’t depreciated like ken griffey jr.s rookie cards!)

  11. tom waldron 29 September, 2011 at 06:59

    Yes Finnaly eveyone is opening their eyes to this and the hopes are perhaps Beckett could do a noteworthy article on it in the next Baseball Beckett.J
    We need some cleaning up in the Hobby big time.
    As I stated before documentation should be REQUIRED not an Option. I would even encourage that an investigation into fraud would be justified consider the millions being made.
    No exclusive contract less products and limit the High products Company’s can make to stop Case breakers from undermining the values of the mid priced products. Less is better. jus saying Keep up the good work Beckett.

  12. Devan James 29 September, 2011 at 09:17

    Do you think it’s possibly for them to make a card set without mem cards in this collectors market? I’d love to just see a set with the simpleness of a pre 90’s basic set and build. Not 15 insert sets, no mem or auto cards, not even a single gimmick. It seems to me with the number of patches and swatches and bat pieces, etc this type of thing probably happen much more often than we think. Who can tell a white patch from the Cardinals from a white patch from the Mariners? Repeat with grey, etc.

  13. Chris H 29 September, 2011 at 09:50

    I have a nice HOF GU collection & I always try to trade for/purchase ones that “look” old. At least they look as if it may have been worn by that player. This one in particular has to be a mistake in manufacturing. It’s so obvious that it’s not a Gehrig. There’s no other explanation. Hopefully Topps will fix this.

  14. Joe 29 September, 2011 at 10:48

    Maybe I was not clear. The problem is on the front of the card under the memorabilia piece it says “Game-used” but on the back thay is COA it reads “AUTHENTIC JERSEY CARD OF that certian player” or something to that effect. No where on the COA does it say game used or player worn. So as I said above technically they are telling the truth. As collectors we should not stand for it. That’s all I am saying.

  15. Jim 29 September, 2011 at 14:04

    You guys are all absolutely right. We are the consumers/collectors and we have a say via what we buy. If you don’t like Topps Triple Threads, don’t buy it. If Topps sees a marked decrease in sales over a time frame of a few years, they will either get the picture and do it right, or they will stop making it all together. Also, a few persuasive letters to Topps might remind them that not only is the stock of their product dropping, so is the stock of their company in our eyes.

  16. steve 29 September, 2011 at 16:29

    Topps stated that they are convening a commitee, to investigate the mistake of not having the quality control person get a bigger paycheck & will ask for a bailout so everyone can spend thousands of dollars on cards that might or might not have even been used by any of these vintage players…….since its kinda hard to get their input on these matters.

    dont they just take a modern jersey from _____________(insert players name here) and cut it up and it becomes upwards of over 100 different players game-used cards that we all chase ??? I’ve noticed for some time, that the last few years…..the auto’s in certain products seem to look a lot alike, they could at least get two or three different employees to sign cards…..right ???

  17. steve 29 September, 2011 at 16:34

    yeah…..the hobby is going to be re-vamped , so as to attract the younger crowd back. I remember those words in 2006 and since then-both Panini & Topps have made so many look alike products it boggles the mind. Just wait now…..since someone has obtained a liscense to print MLB cards (well at least a MLBPA liscense)…..I bet we could see as much stuff as the 2004 through 2005 “print as much as you feel like” days !!

  18. charles faires 29 September, 2011 at 17:03

    I think That 1 way of fixing the card companys is thur a law suit not for money but to demand that the card is marked clearly as to its origin weather, game used, player worn, event worn, or just a jersey from the manufacture. if these swatches are real they had to pay big money, so wouldn’t you think they would go out of there way to get them rite, i my self stoped buying patch and jersey cards a while back. althrough i still buy some that have autos, but its because of the autos not the patches, its the same with redem. they have use by the collar, as long as we except this to be the norm, “it is what it is” just saying…..

  19. Mark Wassel 29 September, 2011 at 17:33

    Listen enough is enough. MLB needs to get involved here,instead of them just turning a blind eye to the situation. This is not the first time Topps or any other company has been caught doing the same thing it is fake, not a mistake. People need to start contacting the companies and their better buisness people in their states. Look at James Spence he is being looked at by the feds for fake auto’s. Here is a question ??? Is this not theft by deception !!! Just my thought’s.

  20. Nick Tegeler 29 September, 2011 at 18:06

    I have been saying for quite some time that if they did more to authenticate these types of cards (like others have said, what game they come from exactly), it would even make some more valuable. For instance a piece from a jersey worn in a playoff/World Series game should be worth more than the 16th game of the season. I think there needs to be a change and maybe an investigation, but I hope we as collectors do not figure out it is as bad as we suspect because I think it would be horrible for this hobby. Between the mass production in the 80’s and 90’s then this issue if it becomes what I fear the most, I just don’t know how much more negative this hobby could take before it just gets buried.

  21. Rich & Dangerous 30 September, 2011 at 09:24

    memorabilia cards are like adam sandler movies. they were both fun and interesting at first, now they’re just meh..

    the bigger issue with card companies are the cut auto cards. so many companies like razor, upper deck, breygent, sportkings are using forgeries or secretarial sigs in their products. they need to do their homework before purchasing the signature, then making a card out of it. and i can provide proof on several examples if needed

  22. barry 30 September, 2011 at 20:51

    i found 4 identical J Mauer 1/1 auto in uncirculated cases complete with the Topps/Bowman sticker sealing them. All 4 were up on ebay at the same time. i sent all 4 to Topps because I thought they should know and would perhaps be outraged. Instead, the gentleman told me people make fake topps cards all the time. no promise to look into it, or to take steps to prevent it, and no explanation for how to verify authenticity if i wanted to buy the real 1/1, (assuming at least one of the 4 was real) I was sent 2 boxes of Topps Chrome without a note. they arrived in a cardboard ups box without any thing else in the box. They were 2010 boxes. I appreciated the boxes but felt like they replaced a meaningful response.

  23. barry 30 September, 2011 at 21:00

    One last point. I apologize for writing so much. There are now so many relic cards, and auto cards, and cut auto cards, that even if everyone is real the value of each continues to drop as more and more are put out.
    its a tough treadmill to get off of. Sets like triple threads, (nice, nice cards) contribute to this. How? the 3/3 and 9/9 and 18/18 and 27/27 and 36/36 are all the same but the color is different. so effectively the 3/3 is really 3 of 93. the numbers for the different base sets are similarly understated and in reality astronomical.
    if one buys a product to resell it, it is virtually impossible to make a profit without getting one of the once in a lifetime hits from it. even a good box, leaves little or no room for resale profit.

  24. P.J. 30 September, 2011 at 23:24

    This is nothing new, if you collect Ryan Mathews, RB for the Chargers, there’s a Triple Threads booklet jumbo patch rookie auto numbered to just 3 made that’s been on E-Bay for a year with an asking price of 699.99, it should be one of the top Mathews rookie cards made, except for one huge problem, the jumbo patch is clearly a part of a 3, and Mathews jersey number is 24. When I advised the seller of this he then contacted Topps to see if it could be fixed but they declined and said there must have been a mistake when manufacturing the card. Its funny that Topps will acknowledge there errors but don’t do anything to fix it. Thats whats really lame, they think its ok cause there rolling in the dough.

  25. steve 1 October, 2011 at 00:44

    Topps Triple Threads works out to somewhere around $15 a card (give or take) and since its guaranteed, you will pull several base cards and parallels and then the “lottery” begins. But……Topps is concerned about these issues, just like Upper Deck “was concerned” and now Panini will “be concerned”.

    Funny idea……when will the agencies that think their poo-poo doesnt stink; like MLBPA, MLB properties, NFLPA, etc. , etc. , etc………get involved and see through all the cash they receive from kickbacks, bribes that there seems to be a legitimate problem ?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

    or……..maybe some magazine with clout or some other form of serious journalism-could write a series of exposes (sp right ??) that might force some heads to hear us !!!!!!!!!!!!!

  26. steve 1 October, 2011 at 00:59

    heres a fun number to ponder, its from the 2010 Topps BB product; the manufactured hat logo patches. (416 cards in set) X (each card numbered to 99) X (inserted every 425 packs ) = 17,791,488. That is a rough estimate of the number of packs made of 2010 Topps BB; then if you figure the standard box was 36 packs (and…..I didnt figure in this equation for jumbo boxes, etc. but……. ( 17,791,488 / 36 ) = 494,208 boxes. And if we use a standard 12 box case dynamic…….( 494,208 / 12 ) = 41,184 cases

    is it just me, or does anyone else think thats a lot !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  27. Joshua (jpleazme) 1 October, 2011 at 01:42

    My opinion, it’s a known mistake by topps.. They have done the same thing with other cards. It is almost impossible to tell if jersey cards (or any object) was “actually used” by an player. Only way to tell is take DNA samples & that is if they were not washed afterwards. Card manufacturers are creating their own fabricated patches these days..

    They could put any old jersey that card or fabricated one themselves. I am pretty sure they can fabricate old school jerseys.. I’ve seen them sell at swapmeets & online..

    Card manufacturers are very smart… that is why they have the disclaimer on the cards… they are to mislead “us collectors.” Just because it says could have been used in an actual game, doesn’t mean that the player that has their name listed on the card actually used that jersey. There are way too many players in today’s game (all sports) for card manufacturers to keep strict controls on where the jerseys go once they are cut up. I would love to see a video how they control their jersey inventory & how they are inserted into cardboard…. Maybe this would put my mind at ease…

    In my opinion, over half of the jersey cards are fake.. but being a collector, I am still going to buy them… as long as UD, TOPPS, or even Panini says they say they are the real deal. “us collectors” will never know..

    same with autos.. some of the autos can be fake.. sticker autos? maybe a player’s family member is signing all those stickers….?? I seen a very famous movie star that lives in Santa Barbara, ca have his mom sign mosters & fanmail for him… why would his mom have a couple thousand autograph pictures sitting on her kitchen table… she was the one signing & sending them out.. card manufacturers and/or players could do the same thing… I went to this actors house, because I used to help my dad do plumbing when I was 16. I even went to Bill Bertka’s house.. which is totally awesome..

  28. Del 2 October, 2011 at 05:54

    OMG….Don’t they have quality assurance department. On a card like that, how in the world could that have gotten pass everyone at Topps. What a major blow to Topps and stuff like this make them look like idiots. Mistaken can happen, yes, but with something like this? Wow….what a shame and embarrassment…..

  29. Del 2 October, 2011 at 05:58

    We are not talking about whether Topps made a mistake with if a player wore it or not….we are talking about a company that obviously can not tell the difference in eras and jersey material. Players now days don’t wear wool. How can you possibly think Lou wore a nice fancy jersey they make now as oppose to the thick scratch wool they wore back then…..HELLO!!!

  30. Robert Braxton 2 October, 2011 at 23:00

    That’s an INEXCUSABLE mistake (if it is one.)

    There is NO excuse for that level of incompetence … on a LOU GEHRIG card!


  31. Richard 3 October, 2011 at 00:06

    There needs to be a few questions answered.
    What is the “value” of Topps COA? The purpose of a COA was traditionally a guarantee
    to replace the item or refund the money.
    So, what are they libel for? The cost of the pack or the price paid by the person who finds
    out that the card is a fake?
    Legally, Topps’s COA appears to be the equivalent to the small print on lots of thing.

    “For entertainment only” – Item does nothing of value other than to entertain you.
    The advice to get the hot girl, pick stocks, winning horses, sports, etc. is really only a joke,
    on you, since we get to keep your money.

    “This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease” – Medicine /exercise equipment is not guaranteed all to do all the wonderful things we told you it would do, heck, it likely won’t.

    I think perhaps a protest site on Facebook might get their attention, but who knows.
    Average person will respond like the town folks on the Simpsons when they hear that a
    blue ribbon commission has been established.

    We value money because we all accept that it is worth something.
    We value certain pieces of cardboard with images and ink and scraps of material
    because we do and we believe others do.

  32. Red Glawson 16 February, 2013 at 08:29

    Beckett failed to be able to grade my 1915 George Sisler and Joe Tinker. PSA is up to the task. I go to them for grading now. Kinda’ sad. Grew upm loving Beckett. Oh well. Water under the bridge.

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