When you think about just how many different baseball card brands and companies there are, and how many cards those companies are printing, things can’t possibly go perfectly every single time. You might see incorrect pictures or misspelled names; weird lines or missing items altogether.
Some of these are misprints and others are pure errors. While they all fall under the greater “error” umbrella for the most part, there is a difference between the two categories.
For example, the famous Ken Griffey Jr. from 1990 Topps is called the “bloody scab/scar” error, but is said to be simply a printing error:
Alright folks. Is there really such a thing as a Griffey Jr. bloody scar card or is that made up eBay fiction? pic.twitter.com/LyTkD4u2xH— United States Sports Cards (@USSportsCards1) December 31, 2021
What is a baseball card misprint?
A misprint is when a baseball card is produced with some type of printing imperfection or error. This can include a card being printed without a piece of information, or, with too much information like extra or smudged ink or random lines. The key differentiator here is that the misprint is a direct result of the production process, either with the equipment or the handling of the card during the process.
One of the most famous and valuable baseball card misprints includes the 1990 Topps Frank Thomas NNOF (No Name on Front).
What do you get when you cross one of baseball’s hottest young superstars with a rookie card that doesn’t include that player’s name on the front of the card? A valuable piece of history! Not to mention that this is one of the rare misprint errors—a raw copy sold on eBay in early 2023 for nearly $5,000.
Certain sets, especially in the late 80s, early 90s are notorious for misprints—many of the most valuable Upper Deck baseball cards are misprints. 1990 Donruss is also another fun one.
What is an error?
An error is the broader category under which the misprint falls. Thus, all misprints are errors, but not all errors are misprints. Errors that aren’t misprints are those that have to do with the information compiled to produce the card.
For instance, a name could be misspelled before it’s handed off to the printer. Or, in the case of the 1987 Donruss Barry Bonds error, a player’s name and photo can be mismatched.
Wait a minute ⌚, that’s not Barry! #WhatsGoingOn— CSG – Certified Sports Guaranty (@CSGCards) September 25, 2022
⚾Donruss inadvertently released this card with a picture of Barry Bonds’ Pittsburgh teammate Johnny Ray. The error was quickly corrected, but not before some were released to the public, making this card highly collectible. 📈 pic.twitter.com/1PnLr0lnLh