One of today’s birthdays in the Pittsburgh Pirates history article is Pete Mackanin, who briefly managed the 2005 Pirates. Lloyd McClendon was the manager for a large portion of that season, but once the Pirates decided to move on late in the year, his bench coach took over. That man would be Pete Mackanin, who had nine years of experience as a player, but no big league experience as a manager. That didn’t really matter at the time because the Pirates were 55-81 when he took over. It’s not like he could have put them deeper into last place, they were already there. As it turned out, the team’s winning percentage improved slightly under him, putting up a 12-14 record during that time.
Topps was ready to include Lloyd McClendon in their 2006 set, but they had to scramble to get Mackanin in the set instead. They didn’t do a good job. They issued a card with McClendon on it, with him being identified as Mackanin. I’m not sure how they made such a mistake, the two are very easy to tell apart. Mackanin wore glasses, McClendon did not. Today we look at both of those cards, which are both #287 in the set, since it’s a corrected error and not a new card. We start with the actual card showing Mackanin, since today is his 72nd birthday.
Here’s the front of the card:
I often say how cards look better when they match them up to team colors, but that’s not always 100% true. Remember when the Pirates had yellow, orange and red in their uniforms? I wasn’t a big fan, though I did love the logo from that era. It just didn’t look right on the uniforms. Topps used the orange and red for the Pirates cards in this set. Technically it is right, but c’mon, use the black and gold only please.
This Mackanin photo looks like Topps had to get it from the Pirates. It has the feel of one of those media guide photos. That wouldm’t be hard to believe because he took over so late. They probably already had the Pirates pictures done for the set. The writing for the team name (top), manager name and position (bottom) are easier to see in person, but I still don’t like it for this reason. I had a lot of trouble finding a scan to use here for this particular card. One was way too light, done purposely by the seller I believe, just so you could see the writing better.
Okay, now remember what Mackanin looks like, as we look at the error card…
Okay, I see how they could get this wrong now. McClendon didn’t wear glasses, but he occasionally wore sunglasses. Someone at Topps saw the glasses, said it had to be Mackanin, then used it on the card. My apologies for wondering how they could mix them up. My guess is that this would have been the photo used for McClendon if he made it to the end of the year.
I actually found a scan here where you can see the writing a little better, but I hated that foil writing idea, even on the gold insert cards.
This card is much easier to find of the two variations. This card was released in packs, while Mackanin wasn’t released until they started selling the full sets.
Here’s the back of the card:
The back gives you a little bio on what led up to him becoming manager. Yes, he was also referred to as the interim manager during that time, before getting replaced by Jim Tracy. The back mentions Mackanin’s versatility as a player, but he was basically a middle infielder. He had 26 starts in his career at spots other than second base or shortstop. Most of those starts weren’t complete games either. He played a total of five games in the outfield during his career, which added up to 12 innings.
These cards had an interesting fact, which had nothing to do with the Pirates. I was sure Mackanin faced Nolan Ryan a few times as a hitter, though I knew that they were mostly in different leagues. So I checked and I found out that they never faced each other. They only played in the same game once back on June 27, 1973. Mackanin was a late defensive replacement, who came in just after Ryan was removed from the game. The winning pitcher that day was Jim Bibby. Mackanin and Ryan were only is the same league for two seasons, and Mackanin barely played in either of those seasons. The two were in separate leagues for the 1975-79 seasons, then both switched leagues during the 1979-80 off-season.
That Pirates logo on the back isn’t the one I was talking about up top, but I do like it a lot.
As I said, the corrected card is rare, but there aren’t a lot of collectors out there looking for it. They have sold for under $2 delivered recently, which is the same price as the McClendon card. The only corrected ones on Ebay right now are all overpriced. So you should wait if you want that one, but you can grab the McClendon one now for a good price from multiple sellers.