Baltimore Colts in Green?

July 16th, 2010  |  Published in Football Card Trivia, Sites I Like, Uniforms  |  2 Comments

1950 Bowman Y.A. Tittle rookie football cardEver wonder why all of the Baltimore Colts in the 1950 Bowman set are wearing green? Did Bowman take liberties with the team’s colors, as Topps did with the Houston Oilers in 1961? (See Houston Oilers: Pretty in Pink.) Did the team change colors from green to blue sometime after 1950?

No, the 1950 Colts were actually a different franchise than today’s Colts. The original Colts were members of the AAFC, and they were one of three teams to join the NFL when the AAFC folded after the 1949 season. This Colts team lasted just one year in the NFL before disbanding, and in 1951 the Colts players were made available to the remaining teams via the draft.

1950 Bowman Chet Mutryn football cardIn 1953, the NFL awarded a Baltimore group a new franchise and gave it the remnants of the original Dallas Texans, a franchise that had lasted just one year in Dallas. The new Colts wore blue, and they’ve worn blue ever since. A nice article by Bob Carroll on the profootballresearchers.com web site traces the lineage of the two Colts franchises and the other AAFC teams.

Pictured here are cards of two of the Colts cards in the 1950 Bowman set, Y.A. Tittle and Chet Mutryn. You can see the entire 1950 Bowman Baltimore Colts team set in the Vintage Football Card Gallery.

Here’s a bit of trivia: Besides Y.A. Tittle, what Hall of Fame quarterback played for the Colts in 1950?

Answer: George Blanda. The Bears traded Blanda and four other players to the Colts on September 5. Blanda played in one game for the Colts, and the Bears bought him back on September 20.

Tags: , , ,

The College Football Hall of Fame 2009 Bowl Subdivision Class

July 15th, 2010  |  Published in Halls of Fame  |  1 Comment

1964 Philadelphia Pervis Atkins rookie football cardEarlier this week, I listed the six members of the College Football Hall of Fame 2010 Divisional Class, who will be enshrined this weekend. They will be enshrined along with the eighteen members of the 2009 Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division 1-A) Class. You can see the full list of twenty-four enshrinees on the College Hall of Fame web site.

The split between the Divisional Class and the Bowl Subdivision Class is a little confusing, since classes from different years are being enshrined together. Compounding the confusion, the 2010 Bowl Subdivision Class has already been chosen–before the 2009 class has been enshrined! The 2010 Bowl Subdivision Class, which was announced on May 27, 2010, will be inducted on December 7, 2010, and enshrined in 2011–together with the 2011 Divisional Class. In the meantime, the Hall of Fame itself is moving from South Bend to Atlanta, for more exposure. I suppose all of the annual events–two class announcements, two induction ceremonies, and the two-day enshrinement festival–are meant to maximize exposure, too.

At any rate, only one member of the 2009 Bowl Subdivision class appears on vintage cards. That’s Pervis Atkins, whose rookie card, a 1964 Philadelphia, is pictured here. Atkins played for six seasons with the Rams, Redskins, and Raiders. He also appeared on a 1965 Philadelphia card with the Redskins.

Here are the eighteen members of the 2009 Bowl Subdivision Class, along with some information on their cards. I don’t have many modern cards, so most of the links lead to examples on eBay.

Player School Cards
Pervis Atkins New Mexico State, 1958-60 Atkins appeared on 1964 and 1965 Philadelphia cards, which you can see in the Vintage Football Card Gallery.
Tim Brown Notre Dame, 1984-87 Brown was a star in the NFL in the 90s, so there are a billion cards of him. I’m sure that modern card collectors already know this, but I learned today that one variation of his 1989 Score All Pro card pictures James Lofton.
Chuck Cecil Arizona, 1984-87 Cecil appeared on a few cards with the Packers. He is now the defensive coordinator for the Tennesee Titans.
Ed Dyas Auburn, 1958-60 Dyas was drafted by the Colts in 1961, but he did not play, and he did not appear on any cards. He instead became an orthopedic surgeon.
Major Harris West Virginia, 1987-89 Harris joined the Raiders after his junior year, but he never saw action for them. He did play professionally in the CFL, AFL, PSFL, and NMFL. He appeared on two 1990 Jogo CFL cards.
Gordon Hudson BYU, 1980-83 Hudson played one season for the Seahawks, and he did not appear on any cards.
William Lewis Harvard, 1892-93 If Lewis had played in 1894, he might have appeared in the first football card set, 1894 Mayo Cut Plug. Alas, he finished law school and did not play in 1894.
Woodrow Lowe Alabama, 1972-75 Lowe played eleven seasons for the Chargers, but he appeared on only three cards: 1980 Topps, 1986 McDonalds, and 1986 Kodak.
Ken Margerum Stanford, 1977-80 Margerum played six seasons for the Bears and 49ers. He appeared on 1982 Topps and 1986 McDonalds cards.
Dick MacPherson (coach) Massachusetts, 1971-77; Syracuse, 1981-90 MacPherson coached the New England Patriots in 1991 and 1992, and he appeared on a couple of 1991 cards.
Steve McMichael Texas, 1976-79 McMichael had a fifteen-year NFL career, most of it with the Bears. His rookie card is a 1985 Topps, and he appeared on ten or twelve cards after that.
John Robinson (coach) USC, 1976-82 and 1993-97; UNLV 1999-2004 Robinson was the head coach of the Rams from 1983 to 1991, and he appeared on a few 1990 and 1991 cards.
Chris Spielman Ohio State, 1984-87 Spielman had a ten-year NFL career with the Lions and Bills. He had three rookie cards–1989 Score, 1989 Pro Set, and 1989 Topps–and he appeared on numerous cards after that.
Larry Station Iowa, 1982-85 Station played one season for the Steelers, and he did not appear on any cards.
Pat Swilling Georgia Tech, 1982-85 Swilling played twelve seasons for the Saints, Lions, and Raiders, and he appeared on a lot of cards. His rookie card is a 1988 Topps.
Gino Torretta Miami (FL), 1989-92 Torretta played only a couple of games in the NFL, but he appeared on a few cards in his rookie season, 1993.
Curt Warner Penn State, 1979-82 Warner played eight seasons for the Seahawks and Rams, and he appeared on a lot of cards. His rookie card is a 1984 Topps.
Grant Wistrom Nebraska, 1994-1997 Wistrom played nine seasons for the Rams and Seahawks. He appeared on numerous cards in 1998, but none after that.
Tags: ,

The College Football Hall of Fame Divisional Class of 2010

July 12th, 2010  |  Published in Halls of Fame  |  1 Comment

1970 Topps Emerson Boozer rookie football cardIn my previous post, I mentioned that Milt Morin will be enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame on July 17. Five other players and coaches from the 2010 Divisional Class will be enshrined, as well. (They will join eighteen players and coaches from the 2009 Bowl Subdivision–formerly Division 1-A–Class.) Here are all six 2010 Divisional Class inductees, along with what I know about their cards.

  • Emerson Boozer – Boozer appeared on Topps cards from 1970-1975, and on a 1972 Sunoco Stamp. You can see all of them in the Vintage Football Card Gallery. His 1970 Topps card is shown here.
  • Troy Brown – Brown is the youngest of the class of 2010, and he appeared on a boatload of modern New England Patriots cards. You can see lots of them on eBay.
  • Willie Jeffries – Jeffries coached at three schools, and as far as I know, he did not appear on a card. There aren’t many cards of college coaches, unfortunately.
  • Brian Kelley – Kelley’s first card is a 1976 Topps, which I don’t yet have in the Vintage Football Card Gallery. He appeared on numerous Topps cards between 1976 and 1984, and you can find most or all of them on eBay.
  • Ted Kessinger – Kessinger was also a coach, and I don’t believe he appeared on any cards.
  • Milt Morin – Morin appeared on several early 1970s cards. You can see all of them in the Vintage Football Card Gallery.

See the College Football Hall of Fame web site for bios of all of the 2010 Divisional Class inductees.

Tags: , ,

Milt Morin, Browns Pro Bowl Tight End

July 10th, 2010  |  Published in Player Deaths

1971 Topps Milt Morin rookie football cardMilt Morin, who played tight end for ten seasons with the Cleveland Browns, passed away on July 9. Morin was selected for the Pro Bowl twice, in 1968 and 1971. He played college football at the University of Massachusetts, and he is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame’s class of 2010.

Pictured here is Morin’s rookie card, a 1971 Topps, issued in his sixth year in the league–and three years after his first Pro Bowl. Topps compensated for their omission by including a card of Morin in each of their sets from 1971 to 1975. He also appeared on a 1972 Sunoco Stamp.

Tags: , ,

Sites I Like: Knute Rockne Tribute

July 9th, 2010  |  Published in Sites I Like

Knute Rockne 1935 National Chicle football cardIf you’re a Knute Rockne or Notre Dame fan, check out The Unofficial Homepage of Knute Rockne. It’s a tribute site assembled by Rockne’s cousin’s grandson, Birger Rokne, from Rockne’s hometown, Voss, Norway. I found Rockne’s association with Studebaker interesting–did you know that Studebaker produced a model called the Rockne? Cousin Birger has a restored one, and his site includes a photo or two.

The card shown here is Rockne’s 1935 National Chicle football card. It is the only card in the set that does not picture an NFL player. You can see Rockne’s other cards in the Vintage Football Card Gallery.

Tags: ,

Marion Motley and Other Exhibit Cards

July 8th, 2010  |  Published in Football Card Trivia, Sites I Like, Uniforms  |  1 Comment

I picked up this card a couple of weeks ago; it’s an Exhibit card of Marion Motley, printed between 1948 and 1952. Motley was one of the first four African Americans to play professional football, and he was the second African American to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. (Em Tunnell was the first.)

This is one of my first Exhibit cards, and I’m finding that there is a lot to learn about them. A good place to start is Adam Warshaw’s page called “Interesting Exhibit Cards.” Adam’s article provides a nice introduction to the cards, along with many, many pictures. According to his article, “Exhibit cards were the first nationally distributed sports card product sold without any ancillary uses or purposes,” meaning that they were not used to help sell some other product. Football players were just a few of the people featured on Exhibit cards: there were other athletes, movie stars, musicians, and, well, just see Adam’s page. Exhibit cards were dispensed from vending machines, and you can see pictures of a few of the machines on photobucket.

When I bought the Motley card, I assumed that it was a pre-rookie card, and I intended to add it to my pre-rookie cards page. I am not sure now, though, that it was printed before his 1950 Bowman rookie card. Exhibit cards don’t have dates printed on them, but by looking for slight variations, you apparently can narrow down the possible printing dates. According to a page at centuryoldcards.com, the size and case of the “MADE IN THE U.S.A.” line on the bottom of Exhibit baseball cards indicates when they were printed. The “MADE IN THE U.S.A.” line on my Motley card is all in upper case, and it measures 5/8 of an inch horizontally, suggesting that the card was printed in 1948–if football cards had the same variations as baseball cards. My old Beckett catalog, though, says that 1948 Exhibit football cards had a line at the bottom describing the player. (See eBay for examples.) In fact, my Beckett catalog distinguishes the 1948 cards from the 1949-1952 cards, saying that the 1948 cards are from the “Exhibit Sports Champion” set. Since the guidelines at centuryoldcards.com don’t appear to jibe with Beckett when applied to football cards, I’m not certain when my card was printed.

I get the sense that Beckett created a separate set for the 1948 Exhibit cards because they were easy to distinguish from the later years. The variations in the text on the 1949-1952 cards are less obvious, and I’m guessing that that’s why Beckett lumped those years together. The other card guides group all of the Exhibit football cards together and call them 1948-1952 Exhibits. To me that makes sense, since there were a lot of variations among the cards, and no one seems to have a firm grasp on which cards were printed with which variations. Besides the variations mentioned above, some cards were printed with different tints, and some were printed with postcard backs. The small images here show some variations from a recent Heritage Auctions listing. (The listing also includes larger images, but you have to register to see them.)


Back to my Motley card: I wondered about his number-less jersey, so I did some searching for it. I thought that maybe it was an old college jersey, or that maybe the Browns didn’t wear numbers in their early days in the AAFC. I didn’t find the image anywhere else, though, and I concluded that it was a Browns practice jersey. Blackpast.com has a photo of Motley in action as a Brown, and the jersey number is the only difference between the uniform he is wearing in that photo and the one he is wearing on my card. It’s curious that the Exhibit card pictures him in a practice jersey, but the all-white uniform does make for a striking image.

You might have noticed that, in the image at blackpast.com, Motley is wearing Chuck Taylors. The Browns evidently wore Chucks when the field was frozen, because I found an image of other team members changing into them during the 1950 Championship game. I believe number 59 is Horace Gillom–check out his monster facemask!

Tags: ,

Happy Independence Day from Red, White, and Blue

July 4th, 2010  |  Published in Silly Stuff

1955 Topps All-American Red Grange football card1976 Wonder Bread Forrest Blue football cardDaryl White 1973 Nebraska Playing CardHappy Independence Day! It took me awhile, but I found just the right three cards for the occasion. First we have Red Grange on his 1955 Topps All-American card. Then there’s Daryl White on a 1973 Nebraska Playing Card. (Note that its card #4.) And, finally, Forrest Blue on his 1975 Wonder Bread card. Between the three, we even have a star and a few stripes!

In case you aren’t familiar with the three sets, you can read about them in earlier blog articles:

Enjoy your picnics and fireworks!

Tags: , , , , ,

Ron Atchison and Frank Rigney, CFL Hall of Famers

July 1st, 2010  |  Published in CFL Cards, Halls of Fame, Player Deaths

Two Canadian Football League Hall of Famers, Ron Atchison and Frank Rigney, passed away this week. Both players appeared on numerous CFL football cards. I am not an expert on CFL cards (or on the CFL, for that matter), so I took the opportunity to do some web searching and learn a little.

1965 Topps CFL Ron Atchison football cardA tribute to Ron Atchison on the Vancouver Sun web site says that he walked-on to the Saskatchewan training camp in 1952, and he ended up playing on the Roughriders defensive line for seventeen years. In that span, the team won one Grey Cup (CFL Championship), in 1966. In one playoff game on an icy field, the resourceful Atchison wore his Hush Puppies for better traction–and they worked!

Atchison apparently did not play college football, but prior to trying out with Saskatchewan, he played for the Saskatoon Hilltops in the Canadian Junior Football League. The league is still in operation, and, according to its Wikipedia page, it serves as a sort of minor league for the CFL. There are some fun team names among the league’s current nineteen teams, including the Big Kahuna Rams, the Chilliwack Huskers, the London Beefeaters, and the Windsor AKO Fratmen.

The card pictured here is Atchison’s 1965 Topps CFL card. 1965 Topps is probably my favorite CFL set, since the cards are colorful and distinct from their NFL counterparts. (Some CFL cards, such as 1958 Topps, 1962 Post, and 1968 O-Pee-Chee, look just like the NFL cards from those years, so to me they’re not very interesting.) Atchison appeared on many more cards, and although I don’t yet have them, you can see a nice assortment on eBay.

1962 Topps CFL Frank Rigney football cardLike Atchison, Frank Rigney spent his entire CFL career with the same team, playing ten years on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers offensive line. In those ten years, Winnipeg played in five Grey Cups and won four of them. Rigney was a CFL West All Star in seven of his ten seasons. He played college football for Iowa, and he was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles, but I did not find anything that said he reported to the Eagles training camp.

Pictured here is Rigney’s 1962 Topps CFL card, half of a panel he shared with teammate Gordie Rowland. The two-card panels in this set are the size of standard single cards. Rigney appeared on many more cards, as well as on some Nalley’s Coins, and you can see examples of them on eBay.

Rigney’s obituary on the CBC News web site provides a nice summary of his career.

Tags: , , , , ,

Jack Cloud, Packers and Redskins Fullback and Linebacker

June 22nd, 2010  |  Published in Player Deaths  |  1 Comment

1951 Bowman Jack Cloud football cardJack Cloud, who played fullback and linebacker for the Packers and Redskins from 1950 to 1953, passed away on June 19. Before his pro career, Cloud starred at William and Mary, where he scored five touchdowns in one game and a school record 102 points in one season. After leaving pro football, he coached and taught physical education for 37 years, including 32 years at the Naval Academy. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1990.

Pictured here is Cloud’s 1951 Bowman card. He also appeared on a 1948 Leaf card while still at William and Mary. I don’t yet have that card in the Vintage Football Card Gallery, but you can see examples of it on eBay. Cloud’s obituary at hometownannapolis.com includes a relatively recent photo.

Tags: , , ,

More Winged Helmets

June 22nd, 2010  |  Published in Uniforms

1960 Fleer Roger Ellis football cardI probably looked at this 1960 Fleer Roger Ellis card a hundred times before I realized that he wasn’t wearing a Michigan helmet. I always assumed that the “winged” helmet design was Michigan’s only, and that it somehow symbolized a wolverine. As I wrote yesterday, though, the design has nothing to do with wolverines; it merely reflects the structural design of leather helmets back in the 1930s. Other teams used the winged design on their helmets in the 1930s, also, but most moved to different designs when they went to synthetic helmets.

Maine is another school that used the winged design, though I don’t know whether they used it on leather helmets or adopted it afterward. And that’s whose helmet Ellis is wearing: he was a Maine Black Bear before joining the AFL’s New York Titans. According to the Colonial Athletic Association page at the Helmet Project, Maine used the winged design until the mid-1970s. And guess what? Delaware, which is also in the CAA, uses the winged design to this day. I had no idea! Henshots.com has lots of recent photos of the Blue Hens in their winged helmets.

Tags: , ,

Yet Another Helmet Article

June 21st, 2010  |  Published in Sites I Like, Uniforms  |  2 Comments

1958 Topps Ron Kramer rookie football cardIn a comment on my article about Jim David’s helmet last week, a reader pointed out that Ron Kramer’s 1958 Topps card also pictures him in his college helmet. My follow-up comment was that a lot of players appear in their college uniforms on football cards (most of the players in the 1960 Fleer set, for example), but not many are wearing their helmets. So “players wearing their college helmets” is a nice subject for a few articles.

Spalding "winged" helmetPictured here is the card the reader mentioned, which shows Kramer in his Michigan jersey and distinctive “winged” helmet. (Topps, thank goodness, did not recolor the jersey and helmet Packers green-and-gold.) I was curious about Michigan’s helmet–was it supposed to somehow symbolize a wolverine?–so I did a web search and turned up an article on its history. No, it turns out, the design has nothing to do with wolverines; it was actually standard on a model of Spalding helmets in the 1930s. The design was functional: the wings and straps helped bind the other pieces of the helmet together, and the additional leather provided more head protection. Michigan’s Coach, Fritz Crisler, merely painted the helmet different colors to dress it up, as he had done at Princeton a couple of years earlier. Several other schools colored their helmets in the same fashion, but they changed their designs when they moved from leather helmets to synthetic ones. Michigan not only kept the winged design, but eventually used it in other sports, too. For a while, even the swim team’s racing caps bore decorations based on the construction of 1930s football helmets!

Getting back to Ron Kramer: it’s appropriate that he appeared on a card in his Michigan uniform, because he was one of Michigan’s great athletes. According to Wikipedia, he earned three letters each in football, basketball, and track, and he led both the football and basketball teams in scoring for two years. As a sophomore, he also led the Big Ten in punting.

Kramer’s 1958 Topps card is his rookie card, though, ironically, he was in the Air Force in 1958 and did not play. He returned to the Packers in 1959 and became a three-time Pro Bowler during their championship years. There is a nice article about Kramer’s football career at Profootballresearchers.org.

Tags: , , ,

Another Enhancement to the Sports Card Auction Finder

June 18th, 2010  |  Published in New in the Gallery

Today I added a “Min Bids” control to my Sports Card Auction Finder. It lets you limit your search results to eBay auctions that already have some number of bids on them. You can use the control to find the auctions that people have already bid on, thereby getting some assurance that those lots are worth their minimum bids. Or you can use it to find the auctions with the most bids, which usually indicates that they had low starting prices. Give it a whirl!
Sports Card Auction Finder

Jim David’s “Bone Style” Rams Helmet

June 18th, 2010  |  Published in Sites I Like, Uniforms  |  4 Comments

1957 Topps Jim David rookie football cardIt seems I’m on a bit of a helmet kick this week. This card caught my eye yesterday: it’s Jim David’s 1957 Topps card. David’s helmet didn’t look familiar, but knowing that he was from Colorado State (Colorado A&M at the time), I thought it might be a CSU Rams helmet. Sure enough, I found it on a page at ColoradoAggies.com. And what a find that was! The site has photos and illustrations of all of the school’s football uniforms from 1922 to present, along with tons of other material on the history of CSU athletics.

Jim David in Colorado State "Bone Style" helmetThe helmet that David is wearing is known as the “bone style” helmet. The team wore it from 1951 to 1956, and it was part of the uniform that Rams fans recently chose as their all-time favorite. David’s image must be from 1951, since by 1952 he was a rookie with the Detroit Lions. Though the Lions didn’t draft him until the twenty-second round, David became a six-time Pro Bowler, playing in the defensive backfield with Hall of Famers Jack Christiansen (also a CSU alumnus) and Yale Lary. Thurman “Fum” McGraw, CSU’s first All-American football player and its athletic director from 1976 to 1986, was also a Pro Bowl defensive player for the Lions in the early 1950s.

Judging by the photos on ColoradoAggies.com, David’s helmet was actually green when the photo was taken, and his pants (shown on the right half of the card) were actually yellow. It was common in the 1950s for a card company to color an old black and white photo of a player to match the colors of his current team. (For another example, see my article on Alan Ameche.) In this case, I’m just happy that Topps kept the horns!

Tags: , , ,

Jim Doran and His Helmet

June 17th, 2010  |  Published in Uniforms

1958 Topps Jim Doran football cardI don’t usually like cards that picture players wearing their helmets, because the helmets cover too much of the players’ faces. Well, here’s an exception: it’s Jim Doran’s 1958 Topps card, where his helmet looks as if it’s been through a battle. What a great image!

I was curious about the color of the helmet, since I thought the Lions had always worn silver ones. Indeed, the Helmet Project web site shows only silver helmets for the Lions. I found a statement on another site, though, that said that in the 1950s, the Lions had to paint their helmets a dark color for night games, so that the players would not confuse the helmets with the white ball. I’m guessing that that’s why Doran’s is blue, and it might also explain why the paint is chipping off. (Also see my earlier article, “What’s with the White Footballs?“)

I was curious about Doran, too, so I looked him up. I learned that he played nine years for the Lions, then two for the Cowboys after they picked him up in the 1960 expansion draft. I also found an article saying that he scored the game-winning touchdown, on a pass from Bobby Layne, in the 1953 NFL Championship game. And, finally, I learned that he was the Cowboys’ first Pro Bowler, in 1960.

You can see all of Jim Doran’s cards in the Vintage Football Card Gallery.

Tags: , ,

Sites I Like: The Herman Wedemeyer Home Page

June 16th, 2010  |  Published in Players Who Became Actors, Sites I Like

1948 Exhibit Herman Wedemeyer football cardYesterday, while searching for information on 1948-1952 Exhibit football cards, I ran across The Herman Wedemeyer Home Page. What a fun site! Wedemeyer, who grew up in Hawaii, was a star player for St. Mary’s College in California in the 1940s, finishing fourth in the voting for the Heisman Trophy in 1945, and sixth in 1946. His running style earned him several colorful nicknames: “Squirmin’ Herman,” “The Hawaiian Hurricane,” “The Hawaiian Centipede,” and “The Hula-Hipped Hawaiian.”

After college, Wedemeyer played two years of pro football with the Los Angeles Dons and Baltimore Colts of the AAFC. Years later (after playing professional baseball, managing sales for the Ilikai Hotel, and serving in public office), he appeared in the Hawaii Five-O series as Sergeant Duke Lukela. The Herman Wedemeyer Home Page includes lots of pictures of Wedemeyer on the Hawaii Five-O set.

The card pictured here is Wedemeyer’s Exhibit card, printed in either 1948 or 1949. (The web page where I found it says 1948; my old Beckett says 1949.) I believe he is wearing his St. Mary’s uniform, since the image resembles an image in Randy Andrada’s “They Did It Every Time,” a book about St. Mary’s football. My Beckett says the card is short printed and much scarcer than most of the other Exhibit football cards. You can find a few Wedemeyer cards for sale on eBay, and they are definitely priced as if the card is scarce.

Tags: ,