Painted Penguin

1986-87 O-Pee-Chee card #209 – Warren Young

1986-87 O-Pee-Chee card #209 - Warren YoungIt has been quite a while since I’ve written about a bad hockey card, so what better way than to ease back into it by picking on an awfully airbrushed card from the 1980s. In this case, a card of former Pittsburgh Penguin left wing Warren Young.

After one season with Michigan Tech, Young was drafted in 1976 by both the NHL’s California Seals and the New England Whalers of the World Hockey Association. He played another 3 seasons in college, and then spent virtually all of the next 5 years in the minor leagues. Along the way, he played 5 games for the Minnesota North Stars and 15 games for the Penguins in the 1983-84 season.

1986-87 O-Pee-Chee card #209 - Warren YoungIt was in March of 1984 that Young finally registered as a blip on the Penguin’s radar. On a call-up from the minors, Young stood up to Steve Richmond of the New York Rangers, besting him in a fight and making Pittsburgh GM Ed Johnston take notice. Young cracked the Penguins 1984-85 roster. At 29 years of age, a player who seemed destined for the minor leagues was playing on a line with Mario Lemieux.

The result paid off for both players. Young was second on the team in goals (40) and points (73), and named to the NHL’s All-Rookie Team. Lemieux led the team in goals, assists and points, and was named the NHL’s Rookie of the Year.

It is safe to assume that Lemieux would have won the Calder Trophy regardless of who he was on a line with. It is also safe to assume that Young-barely a point-per-game player in the minors-would not have fared so well without the help of Super Mario. FYI, a mediocre player putting up exceptional numbers because he plays on the same line as a superstar has been dubbed “The Warren Young Effect.”

Most average hockey players, if skating on a line with Mario Lemieux, would probably make some sort of deal with the devil to stay right where they were and hopefully enjoy another 40-goal season. Instead, Young made a deal with the Red Wings, signing with them in summer of 1985. Not surprisingly, he was unable to duplicate is success in Detroit, and was traded back to the Penguins after one season.

Hence, this cardstock laughingstock. Instead of re-using Young’s photo from the previous set, the folks at O-Pee-Chee decided to take a more current photo of Young as a Red Wing, and airbrush it to make him look like a Penguin. They even slapped the logo on all crooked. Obviously, they were trying to make this change of uniform as least convincing as possible.

Keep in mind that the photo from Young’s previous card showed him as a Penguin, and would have been only about two years older. People don’t age that noticeably in two years. Also, no one would have cared. In fact, hockey card collectors were used to OPC and Topps recycling pictures.

Take a look at these Phil Esposito cards from 1971-72 and 1972-73.
Phil Esposito  Phil Esposito

It’s the same picture. Same lopsided smile, same borrowed gloves (Espo didn’t wear number 17). Hell, the picture is even superimposed over the same bright orange background. But check out those spiffy plaid pants he’s wearing.

This was done quite a bit in the 1960s too, and not always in consecutive seasons. Here’s the same photo of Al Arbour that was used on two cards that were nine years apart. NINE YEARS!
Al Arbour  Al Arbour 1969-70 O-Pee-Chee hockey card

I hope that I look EXACTLY THE SAME–but with lighter skin–in NINE years from now. Naturally, Arbour’s jersey was repainted in the photo to reflect his trade to the St. Louis Blues.

So, if OPC had re-used the same photo of Young in their 1985-86 and 1986-87 sets…

Warren Young Rookie Card  Warren Young Custom Card

…maybe cropped it to be a close up so the blatant re-use of the photo was so obvious…

Warren Young custom card …or even added a Fu-Manchu moustache…

Warren Young Custom Card …it would have been an improvement.


Author: Sal Barry

Sal Barry is the editor and webmaster of Puck Junk. He is a freelance hockey writer, college professor and terrible hockey player. Follow him on Twitter @puckjunk

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