When I first started at Beckett way back in 1990 as the primary football analyst, one card which had become strangely popular was the 1973 Topps Terry Owens and it had nothing to do with his success as an offensive lineman for the San Diego Chargers. No, this was something that would have been quickly nipped in the bud during the internet age, but took on quite a life of its own 25 years ago.
It seemed the WWF was trying to keep a tight lock on official information about their wrestlers and after looking at the Owens card, a rumor began to spread among collectors and even some dealers that Owens was actually Hulk Hogan.
There was some logic to it.
The two men were somewhat similar in age, both were large physical specimens and there was enough of a resemblance to make it believable, especially when you looked at Owens’ 1973 and ’74 cards where he was posed in a three point stance, head tilted downward. As we have discussed on numerous occasions, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, almost anything was a distinct possibility. Collectors and those who sold cards were looking for reasons to make them even more valuable. If Owens really had become the Hulkster, the thought was the Terry Owens rookie card would explode in price.
Today, we know the Hulk’s real name is actually Terry Bollea and Terry Owens was simply a solid NFL lineman for many years who, like other linemen, labored pretty much in obscurity. For a few months, though, his card had an up arrow and unless you understood the reason why, that was one of strangest price runs in football card history. Sadly, Owens passed away a few years ago.
Around the same time, another card was drawing local interest here in the Dallas area. At a recent card show, I caught up with a dealer named Felix out of the Tyler area, who sold me a cool bunch of cards from the late 1950s and 60s. Most of the cards in the lot were commons and minor stars from the Dallas Texans and Houston Oilers and I enjoyed going through them. But he had one comment which helped to trigger the doppelganger tour down memory lane.
One of those Dallas Texans in the stack was a player named Sherrill Headrick. In addition to being a very fine player, Headrick bore a bit of a resemblance to Ed O’Neill’s Al Bundy character in Married with Children. And in looking at his 1966 and ’68 Topps cards, along with his Wikipedia entry, one can see where people thought they looked alike.
We could also add the 1935 National Chicle Bronko Nagurski as an early Bundy brother from another mother.
Because Bundy was a high school football hero (Polk High, remember?), some people during the show’s run also thought Ed O’Neil, the Lions linebacker, became the actor. Didn’t Al Bundy have enough issues? I can also assume they never saw NFL Ed’s 1979 Topps card.
And, this one was noted by Mke Payne in the 300 Greatest Baseball Cards book produced by Beckett. There is a Ramly card of Walter Johnson and the caption underneath compared Walter to Robin Williams. When I looked at the card, I can see a bit of a resemblance too. Now the Johnson is a truly great card from the earliest stages of his career but to catch the similarity was something I would never have noticed. Unlike the other cards mentioned, the Ramly Walter Johnson needs no extra reason for a price bump.
All of these are, of course, different from being smart enough to realize the 1959 Topps George Anderson was really the rookie card of Hall of Fame manager Sparky Anderson. After all, by the time the hobby starting booming, everyone called him Sparky but you could still find poor old George in the commons. In that case knowledge truly was king.