Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Why Not Airbrush?

Yesterday I had some fun with photoshop. Technology allows us to make changes that were never dreamed of 30 years ago. I know you're all aware of the bad airbrush jobs Topps did in the 60's and 70's. I shared some of my thoughts here. But today I'd like to talk about a time when Topps should have taken out the ol' airbrush but didn't.

During the winter of 1973-74 the Cubs and Padres made a trade. The Cubs sent four time all star Glenn Beckert to the Padres for outfielder Jerry Morales. It was one of many trades the Cubs made that off season, "backing up the truck" and getting rid of some of the stars of the ill-fated 1969 team.

The Beckert deal was made on November 7, 1973. Usually when deals like this happened, Topps would use a hatless picture or airbrush a hat. Topps issued a Traded set in 1974 and many of those trades happened after November 7. But for some reason, the Beckert and Morales cards ended up looking like this:

No airbrushing at all! The uniforms for the old teams are clearly visible. Just the team name on the card was changed. You wouldn't think a November trade would be too late to let the Topps artists work their airbrushing magic.

Beckert actually ended up with two cards, the Washingon version and the San Diego version. But they kept him in a Cubs uniform on both cards. Here is the later-printed San Diego card.

There is a real oddity with the Morales card. Here are a couple other Cubs cards from the set. Notice the blue band that surrounds the picture and the pink background around the "Chicago" and "Cubs".

Each team had specific colors for the band and background. For the Padres, the band was yellow and the letter backgrounds were brown, as you can see on the Beckert cards.

Now look again at the Morales card.

The letter background is pink but the band is yellow instead of blue. Topps forgot to change the Padres yellow to Cubs blue. I believe this is the only card in the entire set that has the incorrect band color. I've never seen this error mentioned anywhere.

Was the error corrected? I have two copies of the Morales card and they both have yellow bands. Do any of you have a Morales with a blue band? My guess is the error was never corrected.

All the gripping I do about Topps airbrushing, and now I complain when they don't airbrush. Poor Topps can never make me happy!

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