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4 Expensive Baseball Card Printing Errors – Modern Edition

I previously wrote an article on 6 Expensive Baseball Card Printing Errors with a focus on vintage cards. This article will focus on the same concept, baseball card printing errors, but with more modern cards. Here are four cards where both an error and corrected version exist in the post-war card market.

1990 Topps #414 Frank Thomas (No Name on Front)

The 1990 Topps #414 Frank Thomas No Name on Front card is one of the most famous cards in the hobby, period. Certainly, it’s one of the most important modern error cards and a must-have for collectors with large bankrolls. Frank was a superstar player when baseball card collecting was near its peak. He’s a Hall of Famer who retired with 521 home runs and a .301 batting average to go with two AL MVP awards. The printing hiccup has been speculated about, and no one has unraveled the mystery as well as the user BunchOBull on the Collector’s Universe message boards.

Essentially a piece of card-stock got in the way of the black printing dye of a few uncut sheets of cards, affecting about ten cards, with Frank Thomas being the most notable. 

The No Name on Front version has a PSA population of 207 compared to 14278 Name on Front variants. The last sale of a No Name on Front printing error was $5500 for a PSA 7 on eBay, with PSA 8s going for over $7000. PSA 9s command 5 figure prices with archived sales of over $20k. In comparison, a PSA 10 of the 1990 Topps #414 Frank Thomas card with his full name printed on the front, is just over $80. PSA 8s of the Name on Front variant can be found for under $10.

1990 Topps #414 Frank Thomas No Name on Front
1990 Topps #414 Frank Thomas Name on Front

1989 Fleer #616 Bill Ripken F**k Face

Fleer didn’t notice that the Bill Ripken card they released had an obscenity written on the bottom of the bat he was holding. It spelled out, “F**k FACE.” After the company became aware of the error, they released subsequent printings with the words obscured. First, they had a blob of what appeared to be Wite-Out, then a pen scribble, and finally a black square. Ripken admitted that he wrote the words on the bat to spot it easily as his batting practice bat. Ripken also believes that Fleer couldn’t have missed the error and suggested that they enhanced it to generate extra publicity.

The 5 Bill Ripken #616 cards have the following populations and prices:

  • Black Box Over Error – Total Population of 1557 – PSA 8 for ~$15
  • Black Scribble Over Error – Total Population of 746 – PSA 8 for ~$30
  • FF Error – Total Population of 6468 – PSA 8 for ~$60
  • Scribbled Out in White – Total Population of 76 – PSA 8 for ~$250-500 (A lot of Variance)
  • Whited Out Vulgarity – Total Population of 112 – PSA 8 for ~$200
1989 Fleer #616 Bill Ripken Black Box Over Error
1989 Fleer #616 Bill Ripken Black Scribble Over Error
1989 Fleer #616 Bill Ripken FF Error
1989 Fleer #616 Bill Ripken Scribbled Out In White
1989 Fleer #616 Bill Ripken Whited Out Vulgarity

1987 Donruss Opening Day #163 Barry Bonds (Johnny Ray)

The Donruss Opening Day set was made to focus on each team’s starters on the opening day of the MLB season. The 1987 Donruss Opening Day Barry Bonds card was initially printed with an image of Johnny Ray but was corrected pretty early in the printing process, making the error quite rare.

2595 corrected Barry Bonds cards exist with PSA 8s selling for $10 and PSA 10s for $250. The Johnny Ray error has a total population of 135 with PSA 8 variants selling for $1000 and PSA 10s going for between $3500 and $400.

1987 Donruss Opening Day #163 Barry Bonds Johnny Ray Error
1987 Donruss Opening Day #163 Barry Bonds

1989 Upper Deck #357 Dale Murphy Reverse Negative

While the 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr is the most iconic card in the set, the Dale Murphy may be the most infamous. A version with the image reversed was released. The error is more common in graded form only because the regular variant doesn’t command popularity. Upper Deck said about 2% of the cards have the error. And who knows if it was intentional, to create hype for the set, or not.

508 Reverse Negatives and only 249 corrected variants are in the PSA population report. A regular PSA 10 sells for $25 while the reverse negative in GemMt condition sells for $300.

1989 Upper Deck #357 Dale Murphy Reverse Negative
1989 Upper Deck #357 Dale Murphy

The collectibility and high prices of modern error cards mirror those from earlier in the post-war card era. Collectors continue to value errors that are unique and rare, particularly for popular players.

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