Feel like playing a game?

Have you ever seen the game–it usually appears in children’s magazines–where there are two pictures side by side, and you’re supposed to pick out the differences between them? Sometimes there can be fairly obvious differences, like a man is wearing a hat in one picture and no hat in the other. And some differences are more subtle, like a man is wearing a hat with a band around it in the first picture, and the same type of hat without a band in the other picture. Now we get to play that game, but with old baseball cards.

The two pictures of Bernard Gilkey, who played for five different teams at the major league level over a career that spanned 12 seasons, are not the same picture, despite how it appears at first glance. The blue line, which is apparently a dugout roof, is in the same place, and Gilkey’s poses in the batter’s box are just about identical to each other. But there are enough tiny differences to distinguish one from the other. For example, Gilkey A (on the left) is not wearing any batting gloves, while Gilkey B (on the right) is. There are five other differences, that I could see. Feel free to point them out in the comments section below.

But other than those six minor differences, these two cards–which were from different years and different manufacturers–are virtually identical. Gilkey A appeared in 1992, and the people at Fleer can be forgiven for picking out a photo that they liked of this player. But Topps, who released Gilkey B in 1993, doesn’t get off so easily. They really had no idea that a rival company had released a nearly identical card one year earlier? They couldn’t find a posed shot from somewhere, or a shot of him running the bases, or sitting in the dugout between innings?

A final footnote about Gilkey is that he also has a movie credit to go along with his playing career. He is hit in the head by a flyball during one of the final scenes in Men in Black. His character’s name, fittingly enough, was Baseball Player. You can’t make this stuff up.

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