Take a good look. They are slightly different, though you can tell the photos were taken a few seconds apart.
On the 1980-81 card, the Blackhawks’ defenseman is leaning forward, peering over his shoulder at the viewer. He’s doing the same thing on his 1981-82 card, too. Unless comparing them side by side, most would just assume that it was the same lackluster photo on both cards.
Why would Topps use almost the same picture for two years in a row? Was there a two-for-one sale on uninteresting photos of stay-at-home defensemen that year? What the heck transpired when Topps was buying photographs in 1980?
TOPPS OFFICE, NEW YORK, 1980
Topps Executive: We need a photo of Bob Murray. What do you have?
Freelance Photographer: Well, um…not much I do have this picture of him sitting on the bench. (Hands photo to Topps Executive).
Topps Executive: Great! We’ll take it! What other photos do you have of him?
Freelance Photographer: Uh…another photo of him sitting on the bench.
Topps Executive: SOLD!
Freelance Photographer: But it’s pretty much the same shot, and–
Topps Executive: What else can you sell me? Got any photos of players during stoppages of play or goaltenders skating around maskless during warmup?
Fortunately, Murray’s cards over the next few years would actually show him skating.