The sports card companies sometimes make mistakes, but none is worse than putting the wrong guy's picture on the card. Below are a few examples of mistaken identities on vintage football cards. (Also see my blog entry "Mistaken Identities in 1962 Topps Inset Photos.")
1959 Topps Jim Taylor
On the left is Green Bay Packer Hall of Famer Jim Taylor's rookie card, but that's not Green Bay Packer Hall of Famer Jim Taylor. It's Jim Taylor from the Chicago Cardinals. Packer Jim Taylor is on the right, on his 1961 Topps card. (Jim Taylor from the Cardinals did not appear on an NFL card of his own, but he did appear on a 1961 Topps CFL card.)
1960 Topps Jim Taylor
In 1960, Topps did it again! For the second straight year they put Cardinal Jim Taylor on Packer Jim Taylor's card. The first year that the Packers' Jim Taylor appeared on a card was 1961. Because of this his 1961 Topps card sells for a premium.
1958 Topps R.C. Owens
R.C. Owens's rookie card pictures the wrong guy, too. Here are his 1958 Topps card and his 1959 Topps card:
And here's the impostor, Don Owens, on his 1963 Topps card:
1958 Topps Jim Podoley
There is a second mistaken identity in the 1958 Topps set, on Jim Podoley's rookie card. Here are Podoley's 1958 Topps and 1959 Topps cards:
The impostor is Volney Peters, shown here on his 1957 Topps card:
1961 Fleer Austin "Goose" Gonsoulin
Goose Gonsoulin had two rookie cards, a 1961 Fleer card and a 1961 Topps card. Putting them side-by-side, you can see that one of them obviously pictured the wrong guy.
The Fleer card is the one that's wrong. It pictures Darryl Rodgers, who tried out for the Broncos but didn't make the team. Rodgers went on to coach several college teams and the Detroit Lions.
1964 Philadelphia Garland Boyette
The card on the left is Garland Boyette's rookie card, from the 1964 Philadelphia set. Nice picture, but wrong guy! The card on the right is Garland on his 1972 Topps card.
Here's the impostor, Don Gillis, on his 1960 Mayrose Cardinals card:
1969 Topps 4-in-1 Bob Brown
In 1969 there were three Bob Browns in the NFL, and Topps got them confused. The card on the left is a 4-in-1 insert card (actually four stamps that you could paste into booklets) that says it pictures Bob Brown of the Rams. It's actually Bob Brown of the Packers. Bob Brown of the Rams is pictured on his 1969 Topps card on the right.
Here's the Packers' Bob Brown on his 1973 Topps card:
And just for good measure, here is Bob Brown #3, of the Cardinals, Vikings, and Saints:
1964 Topps Ray Abruzzese
It's hard to tell from these two cards, but the man on the 1964 Topps card on the left is not Ray Abruzzese. I learned from Remember the AFL that the player is Ed Rutkowski, who wore number 46 in training camp. The 1963 Fleer card on the right shows Abruzzese, but it also has an error: his name is misspelled.
Rutkowski appeared on his own 1964 Topps card, and here are the two cards side-by-side. You can see the resemblance, but it's hard to tell for sure that it's the same player.
Here's an older Ed Rutkowski on a Living Prime Time cover. From this it's pretty clear that it's him on the Abruzzese card. For more photos of Rutkowski, see the full article.
1967 Philadelphia Raymond Berry
It's hard to tell who's under the helmet, but that's not Raymond Berry on Raymond Berry's 1967 Philadelphia card. The card on the right is Berry on his 1965 Philadelphia card.
Number 40 was Bob Boyd's number, and Boyd is indeed the impostor. Boyd is shown here on his 1965 Philadelphia card.
1965 Topps Rick Redman
I learned from Todd Tobias's blog, Tales from the American Football League, that Rick Redman's 1965 Topps card doesn't picture Rick Redman. The card on the right is Redman's 1970 Topps card, which does show the right guy.
The impostor? It's Larry Elkins, pictured here on his 1966 Topps card.
1965 Topps Art Powell
Todd Tobias also pointed out to me that the player on Art Powell's 1965 Topps card isn't Art Powell. The card on the right shows Powell on his 1963 Fleer card.
Here's the impostor, Clem Daniels, on his 1967 Topps card. It looks to me as if Daniels's image came from the same photo session as the one on Powell's 1965 Topps card.
1961 Kahn's Larry Krutko and Tom Tracy
In the 1961 Kahn's Wieners regional set, Larry Krutko appears on Tom Tracy's card, and vice versa. This is especially unfortunate for Krutko, because I believe this is his only card.
Here is Tom Tracy on his rookie card, a 1959 Topps:
1926 Spalding Champions Bo McMillin
I don't know who the player is on Bo McMillin's 1926 Spalding Champion card, but it isn't Bo McMillin. The image on the right is from a page of Bo McMillin photos, and it is clear that the player on the card is someone else. The card company mispelled McMillin's last name, as well.
1955 Topps All-American Bob Odell
In a letter pictured in a post in a Collectors Universe forum, Bob Odell's daughter says that the player pictured on Bob Odell's 1955 Topps All-American card is actually his brother. Here is the card, along with a picture of Bob Odell from his page in the Bucknell Bison Hall of Fame.
I did a web search and concluded that the picture on the card must be Bob's older brother, Howard, who played football at the University of Pittsburgh in the 1930s. According to an article at la84foundation.org, Howard was on the staff at the University of Pennsylvania when Bob graduated from high school, and he was the reason that Bob decided to go there. Here is a picture of Howard Odell from Wikipedia.
1969 Glendale Stamps Fred Brown
This 1969 Glendale stamp has Timmy Brown's picture on the front, but Fred Brown's name on the back. So what do we call it, a Timmy Brown stamp with the wrong name, or a Fred Brown stamp with the wrong picture? Well, Timmy's last season with the Eagles was 1967, but Fred was still with the team in 1969, so I'm calling it a Fred Brown stamp. Unfortunately, I don't believe Fred ever appeared on a card, and I couldn't find a photo of him, either. Can someone point one out?
Here is Timmy Brown's 1965 Philadelphia card for comparison:
1977 Touchdown Club Benny Friedman
Benny Friedman's 1977 Touchdown Club football card pictures Cliff Montgomery, not Benny Friedman. Here is the Touchdown Club card, alongside Friedman's 1926 Spalding Champions card.
I don't have a clear image of Montgomery on a football card, but here is a photo of him from an article about his 90th birthday on the Columbia College web site.
1961-1964 Topps CFL Saskatchewan Roughriders Team Cards
Last but not least, in its 1961-1964 CFL sets, Topps managed to misidentify an entire team! I learned from a Sasketchewan Roughriders message board that the team pictured on the 1961 Topps CFL Roughriders team card is actually the 1959 Cleveland Browns. And, because Topps had a habit of using the same team photos year after year, the same mistake appeared on the 1962, 1963, and 1964 Roughriders team cards.
The 1964 Topps CFL Roughriders team card is pictured here, alongside the 1959 Browns team photo. Click on either to see a larger image.
Ironically, Topps never used the 1959 Browns team photo on an NFL card. The Browns team cards in the 1959-1963 Topps NFL sets all picture the 1958 Browns team.