This Is What It Feels Like When Representation Isn’t Done Well

May 10, 2021 — 3 Comments

Today was a big day!

Kind of.

For those unfamiliar, the Topps baseball card company is celebrating 70 years of making collectible cards with a year-long project called Project 70. They have commissioned 70 artists/creatives to create/reimagine 20 baseball cards in their own style throughout the year. Monday through Friday they release four new cards on their website, which are available to purchase for 70 hours and when the clock hits zero, they print however many were purchased.

While most of the cards have been of big stars on the teams in major markets, today was a big day because, for the first time, one of the artists did a rendition of a Jim Abbott card! A bunch of people on Twitter alerted me to the news and I excitedly went to the site to purchase the card. There it was! And the artist even went with Jim in his California Angels uniform instead of his Yankees one! But as I looked closer…

Wait a second…

Do you see it? Not the dinosaur. The name. His last name. There’s only one T.

Ok…so, before anybody freaks out, I want to say a couple things. It’s not the end of the world. I don’t know the artist and he may very well be a great dude. I have no idea. And my guess/hope is that Topps will correct it before they print it. All that said…

There needs to be some accountability here. How on EARTH does EVERYBODY involved in this process miss this?! Topps has been making cards for 70 years and they’ve been making cards of freaking JIM ABBOTT FOR THIRTY OF THOSE. It’s not like he’s an obscure player that they’ve never made a card of before. And as the artist, how do you not quintuple-check the player’s NAME? Especially if you don’t know much about baseball (which is totally fine, but do your research then). It’s just mind-boggling to me that all parties involved got this wrong. This isn’t just a simple mistake. It’s someone’s NAME. Someone who deserves respect and has represented himself, his fans and the sport of baseball as well as anyone in history.

And here’s the deal. I don’t want a pity party. That’s not what I’m getting at at all. And I’m sure Jim doesn’t care because he’s just the best like that. But, there’s definitely an element of disappointment. Jim is larger than life for those of us in the limb-different community. He represents us (this is not news to him; listen to my interview with him here). So, finally seeing him pop up after over a year (they did a similar project last year, which he was not in) and then to see it so badly botched was like, “Of course.” That would NEVER happen with Acuna or Judge or Mookie or or or…

We’re basically the same height. Give or take a foot.

I appreciate the effort. I really do. And I hope they’re able to correct it and that they take responsibility and don’t just sweep it under the rug (though I think that’s what will likely happen). But it’s important to understand that when you try to represent, you need to do it well. Do the research. Take your time. Get it right. It’s really, really important. That’s why it took me so long to publish my kids book, Different Is Awesome! I knew I needed to get it right. It represents more than just my story; it gives a voice to kids and families who are living similar stories and brings some normalcy to their lives.

So, Topps and Craola…I’m asking for two simple things. An apology for getting it wrong and the promise to make it right. I feel like that’s fair. And I’m happy to have further conversation about it if that would help. Thanks.


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I'm a husband, a father, an author, a speaker, a friend...all kinds of things, actually.

3 responses to This Is What It Feels Like When Representation Isn’t Done Well

  1. I’m digging the octopus. I mean, what better animal to represent the limb different community than the one with the most arms. Rub it in already. At least the dinosaur isn’t a T Rex though. That’s a win.

    I can laugh at those things as a person myself without a hand. I agree about the name though, it’s just hard to believe they got it wrong. Let’s give him the benefit of doubt. Maybe there was a shortage of t’s. I mean I have 2 in Scott and clearly 1 would suffice. And “Haack”, Ryan? Do you think a’s just grow on trees? It’s a little excessive- let’s be honest.

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