We card bloggers give card companies a lot of grief for making mistakes on their cards, making ridiculously short print runs of card variations, or, as we saw with the Topps Mayo football release, advertising cards that won't actually exist. Well for all the follies that Topps & Upper Deck are guilty of they seem minor when compared to the 1939 Play Ball set.
Play Ball, made by Gum, Inc., was the only set of baseball cards created in 1939 and had the finest player photography that had ever been used on cards to that point. It's on the reverse side where things get interesting however...Below is a scan of Harold Schumacher's Play Ball card that I picked up a few weeks ago. This is now the oldest card I own by a decade over the previous champ, my 1949 Leaf Andy Pafko.
As you can see it is numbered 73 out of a series of 250 cards. Well, let's stop there. The Play Ball set actually has 162 cards with card #126 never seeing the light of day. My card has two variations. My version [73a] has Harold's birthplace as Dolgville, N.Y. while the other version [73b] has Harold born in Dolgeville, N.Y.
Here's a complete list of all the different variations in the set which total nearly 75 different variations.