JERSEY CARDS! Love ‘em or Hate ‘em, you’re bound to come across them if you spend any appreciable time (and money) opening packs. Sometimes you luck out and score the star player of your favorite team! YAY! And sometimes you pull some dude you don’t know on a team you dislike. BOO! But hang on to him anyways, because you never know when Nathan Gerbe will get picked up by the Carolina Hurricanes.
Then there are the jersey cards that make you scratch you head when the swatch of jersey does not match the picture on the card. Like, not even close. Some people who read this blog may get annoyed with these “Franken-Cards,” wondering why they’d bother using a different jersey, or why they could just change the picture to that’s team’s uniform. It can’t be hard, like double checking to make sure the city skyline image is correct before superimposing a player over it. But sometimes, if you look a little deeper, you’ll find some of these cards can be pretty unique and tell a story about a player and his past.
Let’s take a look at a few examples…
(Pours scotch, lights pipe, turns on projector)
2010-11 Upper Deck Artifacts #61 – Roberto Luongo
Bobby Lou has been good enough to only have played for three teams in his 15-year NHL career. Either that, or he had an untradable contract. Whatever. Hindsight being 20/20, in 2010 he was the unquestioned number one goalie of the Vancouver Canucks (shut your pie hole, Cory Schneider), and his time with the Florida Panthers was fading memory in the rear view mirror, not yet a realized dream on the horizon.
Upper Deck didn’t punch out two Canucks uniforms to make this card, but went way back and got what is clearly a piece of his Florida sweater as well. It’s also really nice that they used an embroidered swatch from an identifiable section; in this case, the sun behind the palm tree and stick.
It would be neat if there was a Journeyman Series that used swatches from each uniform a well-traveled player wore in his NHL career. Jaromir Jagr of course would be the poster boy for this. If this sort of thing already exists, let me know.
2008-09 Fleer Ultra Ultra Uniformity #UA-JR – Jeremy Roenick
Leetch is still a cherished figure to Ranger fans. When those guys come down to Raleigh, I still see at least a dozen Leetch Rangers sweaters roaming the halls of PNC Arena. To those blue shirt fanatics, this guy will always be a Ranger in their hearts and minds. So when I pulled this card out of a pack I was initially disappointed to see the mismatched swatch, BUT I was glad I got a piece of his Ranger uniform rather than a piece from his Bruins or Maple Leafs jerseys.
While it would have been BOSS to have gotten a piece of JR’s Blackhawks jersey on this card, there’s a similar story here. Roenick’s career was definitely coming to a quick close when he joined up with San Jose, other than tagging a few milestone stats for his tally sheet. I’m sure it was a time that Patrick Marleau would rather forget. However, the swatch comes from a better time earlier in JR’s career where he was something of an ambassador and face-of-the-franchise for a budding Phoenix organization. Thanks to putting up decent numbers — but maybe more importantly his outgoing personality — he helped grow a team where many didn’t think possible. Outside of Chicago, Phoenix is probably this city that would most love to call him “son”.
I also have a Bernie Nicholls card that this the antithesis of this idea; He’s pictured in his Kings uniform where he started his career and had his best seasons, but the swatches are from the end when things were falling apart in San Jose. Hmmmm…San Jose: where careers and playoff hopes come to an end!
Just kidding. Don’t kill me, Sharks fans.
2013-14 Panini Playbook #LE-JOS – Jordan Staal
I would have passed on picking up this card at a show if it had been any old Jordan Staal ‘Canes card with a Penguin’s swatch. But the off-white color tells me that this could have been a piece of his Winter Classic jersey, and that has some historic value for his career. When I asked him to sign it, I asked him about the swatch and he agreed that it was probably from a Winter Classic jersey. Briefly, we talked about Carolina’s chances of getting to play an outdoor game; we’re hopeful.
2011-12 Panini Pinnacle Game Night #44 – Dion Phaneuf
Most, if not all, teams have a Military Appreciation night to honor those who sacrifice their all for us across North America. The teams will skate in camouflaged practice jerseys that night, either in a game or in warm-ups, and often they will auction off the jerseys for charity. Maybe those lazy people at Panini could have at least tried to find a picture of Dion in this jersey for the card, but I guess it’s still neat to get a swatch of a unique moment during a season.
Question: Have you come across any “Franken-cards” with an interesting story to tell? Share it in the comments. ■
Jim Howard is a Carolina Hurricanes fan and reformed baseball card collector who is trying to keep the hockey collection from becoming overwhelming. And while he wishes he could give Crosby the business with his mitt, he is in fact NOT the goalie for the Red Wings.