Strike: Hillary Clinton as Boston Red Sox Catcher Jason Varitek

If baseball card maker Upper Deck had drawn the scene right, Clinton would be the Democratic nominee, not Obama.

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Not that we’re perfect here at U.S. News, but we’re better than many because we still keep a fact-checking staff on board to look for errors in reporting and facts. Normally, the errors are minor, like name spellings or bad addition. But while checking a Whisper in the current magazine about a new series of Upper Deck political baseball cards, longtime fact-checker Henry Reske uncovered a whopper of a blooper, this time the work of the card maker.

It started after our Suzi Parker sent in the item that said Upper Deck was taking iconic baseball scenes and inserting the presidential candidates. Parker wrote, based on the press release: “The Upper Deck baseball card company unveils special edition insert cards this week featuring caricature parodies of the White House contenders. One card shows Sen. Hillary Clinton lifting Sen. Barack Obama just as Boston Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek hoisted pitcher Jonathan Papelbon after winning the 2007 World Series.”

What? thought Reske. Fans of the game know that Varitek does not catch when it comes to celebrating a big win. He leaps. He leapt into Papelbon’s arms in ’07 and into Alan Embree’s after the Sox took down the Yankees in the ’04 American League Championship Series and into Keith Foulke’s in ’04 when the Sox’s World Series curse was broken, and, for all I know, he’s been leaving the ground after every big win for years.

So maybe the reporter got the pose wrong. To make sure, Reske buzzed the company to get it straightened out because we didn’t have the actual image at the time. “I read the offending passage and noted that it was the opposite, the catcher leapt into the pitcher’s arms,” says Reske. “There was a pause and then a mumble about how the line was correct. I said something to the effect that Google images don’t lie and then heard the unmistakable sounds of a keyboard clicking, shortly followed by ‘Not good, not good’ and then something about the ALCS and the art staff working on this for a long time and thanks for letting us know,” he adds. In the confusion and with deadlines pressing, we cut the mention to that particular card in the final item.

As it turns out, when we finally did see the image, above, it references the 2004 ALCS and has Embree--shown as Sen. Barack Obama for the political image--leaping into the arms of Varitek (Clinton). Considering Tuesday’s outcome and Obama’s victory in the Democratic presidential primaries, he should have been drawn as the celebrating Varitek, the Red Sox’s team captain.

The company says it will stick with the image, though, since the cards are printed, possibly making them very valuable to fans of Clinton or the Red Sox.