By now, you have probably heard about the 2015 Topps Tribute baseball product recall. In reality, this is probably a smart business move as you do not want constant issues with any of your releases. Now, if a few base cards are off-center or random cards have damage, it’s not likely the Topps Customer Service Department will be overwhelmed with complaints. While not every card was affected by what Topps says was a “UV contamination” issue impacting the quality of player autographs, enough of them were to where it would have been a nightmare without taking a drastic (and probably expensive) step.
But, did you know this is not really the first time we have had a hobby recall? Only this time, no one wanted to send back the item which was being recalled. Yes, way back in 1989, Fleer did attempt a recall of the early printing of their baseball issue after the famous “F*** Face” phrase turned up on Billy Ripken’s bat. It wasn’t intentional, it probably didn’t make MLB officials very happy and Billy Ripken got really tired of hearing about the card and what happened.
But the hobby was on fire and the Ripken hubbub fanned the flames. I’m not sure how many boxes were sent back to Fleer back then, but I don’t think it was a huge number. After all, why would you send back any of the packs which had that Ripken card especially when it was selling for upwards of $50? In 1989 hobby dollars, that was truly big money. You could have purchased four Toppsboxes with a little shopping skill for that $50. The ‘recall’ turned out to be more of a PR move but Fleer had to do something to appease those who didn’t like four letter words on their cards. Truth is, Fleer–and the hobby–got a huge boost of publicity because of the card and it’s ‘corrected’ variations, all of which became national news.
Today, the obscenity card–and some of its many variants–are readily available on eBay.
Three years before that, long before in pack autographs, there was another issue. When we wrote about the 1986 Donruss Wally Joyner “The Rookies’ card a few months back, we mentioned the original print run of that issue had to be recalled because the Joyner card, which was visible to all collector, showed damage and many collectors wanted to send those cards back. Donruss had the print run returned and re-shipped the cello wrapped cards and now if you buy a set, the Joyner card is usually going to be just fine (and if it isn’t, you can grab a replacement for less than a buck).
Remember other massive product issues or even recalls from years ago? If you have any stories about those we’d love to hear them. Contact me at the email address below.