Well, the joke’s not on ME, Joe Shlabotnik… but both Topps and O-Pee-Chee probably thought something like that in 1977, given the way players were moving about in an expansion year.
Exhibit A: Rico Carty
Rico Carty had been with the Indians a couple of years when he got drafted by the Blue Jays with the 10th pick of the expansion draft. Topps dutifully airbrushed him into his Blue Jays uniform…
But a month later, on December 6th, 1976, Rico was traded back to the Indians, and it was probably just a bit too late for Topps to make any changes. It’s said that you could hear the wails of the Topps airbrush artist up and down the east coast.
O-Pee-Chee said “We’ll just use the original photo, thank you very much…”
…and Topps said “Well, the joke’s on me”.
Exhibit B: John Lowenstein
Topps had a card of a fairly somber Brother Low on their 1977 card, but you remember that trade that sent Rico Carty back to the Indians? Well, he got traded for Rick Cerone and John Lowenstein.
O-Pee-Chee probably giggled with delight at the opportunity to have a Blue Jay that Topps didn’t have; Lowenstein was one of the players they featured in their spiffy new Blue Jays uniforms, but fate would have another cruel trick up her sleeve…
See that line of text on the card? Yep, just like Rico Carty, Lowenstein got traded back to the Indians (for infielder Hector Torres). Now it was OPC’s chance to feel the fool.
For what it’s worth, Torres also got traded twice that offseason, going from the Padres to the Indians as part of a package for George Hendrick. Torres didn’t have a card in either 1977 set, so that’s enough talk about him.
Anyway, when the dust settled, Carty & Lowenstein ended up back where they started, and the Jays had converted a draft pick into Rick Cerone and Hector Torres.
1977 Topps, 1977 O-Pee-Chee, baseball cards, Rico Carty, John Lowenstein, Cleveland Indians, Toronto Blue Jays