More Unlisted Errors: 1948 and 1949 Leaf Bob Hendren

September 13th, 2012  |  Published in error cards

Error card collectors, here are two more error cards that are not marked in my Beckett catalog: Bob Hendren’s 1948 and 1949 Leaf cards have his name spelled “Hendreen.” Hendren’s name is also misspelled on the back of his 1948 card, but Leaf corrected the spelling on the back in 1949.

Tip of the day: when you search eBay for a card with a misspelled name, search for both the correct and incorrect spellings. Some sellers use the correct spelling of the player’s name, and some use the name on the card.

For more information on the 1948 and 1949 Leaf sets, see L is for Leaf. To see all of the error cards in a certain set, use the Advanced Search page of the Vintage Football Card Gallery.
1948 Leaf Bob Hendren football card1949 Leaf Bob Hendren football card

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George Savitsky, Philadelphia Eagles Tackle

September 7th, 2012  |  Published in Player Deaths

George Savitsky 1948 Leaf rookie football cardGeorge Savitsky, who played tackle for the Philadelphia Eagles in 1948 and 1949, passed away on September 4. The Eagles won two of their three NFL titles in the seasons that Savitsky played. (Their third championship was in 1960.) Savitsky played college football at University of Pennsylvania, and he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1991. He and Chuck Bednarik were teammates both at Penn and with the Eagles. The csnphilly.com web site has a story about Savitsky and a nice photo of him as a player.

The card pictured here is Savitsky’s rookie card, a 1948 Leaf. It is one of the scarce high-numbered cards in the set. He also appeared on a 1949 Leaf card (identical to the 1948 Leaf card, except for the back), and on a 1955 Topps All-American card.

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I Hart You

February 13th, 2012  |  Published in Silly Stuff

Happy Valentine’s Day! Last year I gave you Flowers, this year it’s Harts. Here we go:

First is Leon Hart, a Heisman Trophy winner and College Hall of Famer. Hart played eight seasons for the Detroit Lions, and he appeared on at least twelve football cards. His rookie card, the 1948 Leaf pictured here, was issued while he was still at Notre Dame. It is a high number and one of the key cards in the set.
Leon Hart 1948 Leaf rookie football card
Next is Pete Hart, who played for the New York Titans in the AFL’s inaugural season, 1960. (The Titans were renamed the Jets in 1963.) Hart appeared on a 1961 Fleer card and the 1961 Fleer Wallet Picture shown here.
Pete Hart 1961 Fleer Wallet Picture
Jim Hart was a quarterback for nineteen seasons in the NFL, all but one of them for the St. Louis Cardinals. He was a Pro Bowler for four straight seasons, 1974 to 1977. Hart appeared on a lot of football cards; the one pictured here is a 1968 Topps Stand-Up insert card.
Jim Hart 1968 Topps Stand Up football card
Doug Hart played from 1964 to 1971 for the Green Bay Packers. He had the NFL’s longest interception return in 1969, an 85-yarder. The Packers had a lot of great players in the 1960s, of course, so Hart didn’t appear on a card until 1970. His 1970 Topps card is pictured here. He also made it onto a 1972 Sunoco Stamp, but he did not play in 1972.
Doug Hart 1970 Topps football card
Tommy Hart played thirteen seasons for the 49ers, Bears, and Saints. He appeared on several cards during his career; you can see most of them in the Vintage Football Card Gallery. His rookie card, a 1973 Topps, is pictured here.
Tommy Hart 1973 Topps rookie football card
Finally, Harold Hart played four seasons, 1974-1975 and 1977-1978, with the Raiders and Giants. Ironically, his only card is a 1976 Topps that shows him with Tampa Bay, but he didn’t play in 1976, and he never played a regular season game for Tampa Bay. According to his page at bucpower.com, the expansion Buccaneers acquired Hart in the 1976 Veteran Allocation Draft, but he hurt his knee in the pre-season and spent the year on injured reserve.
Harold Hart 1976 Topps football card
That’s all the Harts! Next year, Roseys?

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Frank Aschenbrenner, Northwestern Wildcats Halfback

February 4th, 2012  |  Published in Player Deaths

Frank Aschenbrenner 1948 Leaf football cardFrank Aschenbrenner, a star halfback for Northwestern University in 1948 and 1949, passed away on January 30. Aschenbrenner was named the outstanding player of the 1949 Rose Bowl after scoring on a record-setting 73-yard run and rushing for a total of 119 yards. He is a member of the Northwestern Athletics Hall of Fame and the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame. After college, Aschenbrenner played one season for the AAFC’s Chicago Hornets and one season for the CFL’s Montreal Allouettes.

While at Northwestern, Aschenbrenner appeared on the 1948 Leaf football card pictured here. The 1948 Leaf set contains cards of both NFL and college players, with most of the college players falling among the scarce high numbers, 50-98. Aschenbrenner’s card is number 93.

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Clarence Self, Cardinals, Lions, and Packers Back

January 24th, 2012  |  Published in Player Deaths

Clarence Self 1948 Leaf football cardClarence Self, a back from 1949 to 1955 for the Chicago Cardinals, Detroit Lions, and Green Bay Packers, passed away on January 21. Self played college football at Wisconsin, and he still holds the school record for kickoff return yards in a game, with 178.

Self appeared on one football card, the 1948 Leaf card pictured here, while still at Wisconsin. It is one of the scarce high-numbered cards in the set. 1948 Leaf cards were printed on two sheets, one holding cards 1-49 and the other holding cards 50-98, and Leaf apparently printed the second sheet in much smaller quantities. The Self card is number 78.

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Another Cup of Coffee

January 14th, 2012  |  Published in Football Card Trivia

Larry Joe 1948 Leaf football cardIn a previous article I featured the football cards of several players who played in exactly one NFL, AFL, or AAFC game. Today I added Larry Joe’s 1948 Leaf football card to that article. Joe, I learned, played in one game in 1949 for the AAFC’s Buffalo Bills. Check out the whole list.

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Pete Pihos, Philadelphia Eagles Hall of Fame End

August 16th, 2011  |  Published in Player Deaths

Pete Pihos, Hall of Fame end for the Philadelphia Eagles, passed away this morning, according to the team’s web site. Pihos played nine seasons for the Eagles, from 1947 to 1955, and he made the Pro Bowl the last six of those seasons. He was also a member of the Eagles’ 1948 and 1949 NFL Championship teams. Pihos’s page on the Pro Football Hall of Fame web site has a summary of his career.

Pihos had two rookie cards, the 1948 Leaf and 1948 Bowman cards pictured below. The 1948 Leaf card shown here is the variation with yellow numerals; there is also a rare variation with blue numerals. You can see all of Pete Pihos’s cards in the Vintage Football Card Gallery.
Pete Pihos 1948 Leaf rookie football cardPete Pihos 1948 Bowman rookie football card

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New in the Gallery: Virtual Uncut Sheets of 1948 and 1949 Leaf Football Cards

April 30th, 2011  |  Published in New in the Gallery

This week I added virtual uncut sheets of 1948 Leaf and 1949 Leaf football cards to the Vintage Football Card Gallery. From a picture of a 1949 sheet, I think I have also figured out what the 1948 sheets looked like. The 1949 Leaf set is basically a subset of the 1948 Leaf set with the card backs and card numbers changed, and it appears to me that the sheets would have been similar. Take a peek, and let me know what you think.
Virtual uncut sheet of 1948 Leaf football cards

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Some Old Extra Point Records

February 8th, 2011  |  Published in Record Holders

Charlie Gogolak 1967 Philadelphia rookie football cardHere’s another record from the nfl.com history page: on November 27, 1966, in a game against the New York Giants, the Redskins’ Charlie Gogolak attempted ten extra points. That means, of course, that the Redskins scored ten touchdowns that day, and they beat the Giants 72-41. The Redskins’ 72 points in one game is an NFL record, and so is the 113 total points that the two teams scored. According to an account of the game at sportsthenandnow.com, the Redskins weren’t very sportsmanlike that day: with only a few seconds left in the game, instead of running out the clock, coach Otto Graham sent Gogolak out to kick a field goal. With those final three points, the Redskins surpassed the previous record for points in a game, 70, which the Los Angeles Rams had set in 1950.

Bob Waterfield 1948 Leaf rookie football cardIf you’re quick at math, you’re thinking, hmm, Gogolak must have missed one of his attempts against the Giants. He did; the Giants blocked it. Thus Gogolak shares the record for most successful extra points in a game with Pat Harder and Bob Waterfield. Harder, of the Chicago Cardinals, went 9-for-9 twice: against the New York Giants in 1948, and against the New York Bulldogs in 1949. Waterfield, of the Los Angeles Rams, went 9-for-9 in a game against the Baltimore Colts in 1950–the game in which the Rams set the scoring record I mentioned above. According to the box score, Elroy Hirsch kicked the final extra point in that game, or Waterfield alone would hold the record for most successful extra points in a game. Waterfield threw a 63-yard touchdown pass for the final score, and maybe it was too far to walk.

Pat Harder 1948 Leaf rookie football cardThe cards pictured here are the rookie cards of the record-holding kickers: Gogolak’s 1967 Philadelphia card, Harder’s 1948 Leaf card (with his name misspelled), and Waterfield’s 1948 Leaf card. Waterfield and Harder also had rookie cards in the 1948 Bowman football card set.

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An Achievement Unmatched in Fifty Years

December 10th, 2010  |  Published in Trivia Questions

Bob Hoernschemeyer 1950 Bowman rookie football card1948 Bowman Charley Trippi rookie football card1948 Leaf George Taliaferro rookie football cardHere’s a bit of trivia from my fellow collector Pete. Pictured here are three vintage rookie cards: a 1948 Bowman Charley Trippi, a 1950 Bowman Bob Hoernschemeyer, and a 1948 Leaf George Taliaferro. What did these three players achieve that no one has since?

Answer: They are the only three NFL players to have gotten over 1000 yards passing, 1000 yards rushing, and 1000 yards receiving in their pro careers. Here are their numbers from pro-football-reference.com:

But wait–there’s an asterisk.

Some of Taliaferro and Hoernschemeyer’s stats are from the AAFC, it turns out, and without their AAFC stats, they would not have achieved their triple-1000s. I wondered if the NFL recognized AAFC stats, and I learned that they don’t: Hoernschemeyer’s page at nfl.com shows his seasons in the AAFC, but not his statistics. By contrast, George Blanda’s page shows both his NFL and AFL statistics. Why would the NFL recognize AFL stats but not AAFC stats? Wikipedia’s page on the AAFC offers two possible explanations: either the AAFC didn’t provide the NFL with its official scoresheets, or the NFL considered the AAFC less than equal, since the NFL absorbed only three of the AAFC teams when the AAFC folded in 1950. Both reasons seem silly, especially the latter. One of those three AAFC teams, the Cleveland Browns, reached the championship game in each of their first six years in the NFL, and they won three of those six games.

So, if you go by the NFL record book, Charley Trippi is the only player to have achieved the 1000-yard passing/rushing/receiving career triple. I’m siding with my friend Pete, though, and also including the other two here. Especially since I like the name Hoernschemeyer.

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New in the Gallery: 1948 Leaf Football Cards

November 30th, 2010  |  Published in New in the Gallery

Bobby Layne 1948 Leaf rookie football card, red pants variationOver the weekend I added 1948 Leaf football cards to the Vintage Football Card Gallery. I would like to thank Legacy Sports Rarities, who provided most of the images, and Scott Alpaugh (OTWCards), who provided images of the variations in the set. So far I have added the 1948 Leaf variations recognized by the price guides and grading services, but Scott has documented several more variations, and I hope to add those soon.

Pictured here is one of the variations, the “red pants” version of Bobby Layne’s rookie card. The other variation, which is more common, shows Layne in yellow pants. Both variations have Layne’s first name misspelled.

For more details on the 1948 and 1949 Leaf sets, see my earlier blog article, L is for Leaf. I also updated that article over the weekend, adding links where appropriate to the 1948 cards in the Gallery.

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L is for Leaf

October 23rd, 2009  |  Published in ABCs of Vintage Football Cards, Football Card Oddities, Football Card Trivia

The Leaf Gum Company printed football cards in 1948 and 1949. The cards from the two years are very similar. In fact, except for the variations in the 1948 cards, for players who appear in both sets, the fronts of the cards appear identical. The backs are different for the two years, fortunately, and the copyright date on the bottom of the back tells which year a card is from. Shown here are Leaf’s two Herb Seigert cards, the first from 1948, and the second from 1949.
1948 Leaf Herb Siegert football card1949 Leaf Herb Siegert football card
The images on the Leaf cards started as black and white photos, and then someone colored the images’ backgrounds and the players’ uniforms. On some cards, such as the Harry Szulborski card below, the coloring makes it look as if the player’s head was cut out and pasted on a colored background.

1948 Leaf Harry Szulborski football cardMy favorite feature of the Leaf cards is that many have both the player’s first name and nickname on the front: ‘Slingin’ Sammy Baugh, ‘Bullet’ Bill Dudley, Charlie ‘Choo Choo’ Justice, and so on. A quick bit of trivia: which player’s nickname is in double quotes? Answer: Clyde “Bulldog” Turner‘s.

The 1948 Leaf set consists of 98 cards, with cards 1-49 being easier to find and cards 50-98 being difficult. The set features both pro and college players, with slightly more than half of the cards being pros. The bigger stars of the day–mostly pros–are concentrated in the first half of the set, and most of the college players are in the second half.

1948 Leaf Pete Pihos rookie card with yellow numbersThe set contains many variations: mostly in the colors used, but in the players’ names as well. The 1948 Leaf set composition page on PSA’s web site lists most of the variations, but I don’t believe it is complete. It lists two variations of the Pete Pihos rookie card, for example, one with yellow numbers and one with blue. I have also seen a variation with greenish numbers, though. It is pictured here with the yellow-numbered version for contrast.

Because there had been no major football card issues since 1935 National Chicle, all of the 1948 Leaf football cards are rookie cards. Fourteen of the players in the set are of Hall of Famers, making it a key set for Hall of Fame rookie card collectors. Fortunately for those collectors, only two of the Hall of Fame players–namely Leo Nomellini and Chuck Bednarik–are in the tougher second half of the set. (Nomellini and Bednarik were both still in college at the time.) An article by Kevin Glew on the Collectors Universe web site lists the Hall of Famers and describes the other challenges facing 1948 Leaf collectors.

Compared to the 1948 Leaf set, the 1949 Leafs are not very interesting. The 1949 set contains only 49 cards, all pro players, and there are no new players in the set. Also, as I wrote above, there is no perceptible difference in the card fronts for players who appear in both sets. So Leaf’s 1949 offer was essentially half of 1948’s cards, but with different backs.

One odd thing about the 1949 set is that it is skip-numbered, with the numbers of its 49 cards scattered between 1 and 150. When I first learned this, I wondered if Leaf had intended to release more cards to fill in the gaps. It turns out, though, that they also skip-numbered their 1949 baseball set. That suggests to me that they were trying to trick kids into buying more cards, even if they already had the whole set. I’d call that just plain mean. It’s not surprising that this was Leaf’s last football set.

You can see all of the 1948 Leaf and 1949 Leaf cards in the Vintage Football Card Gallery.

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A Cup of Coffee–and a Card

September 1st, 2009  |  Published in error cards, Football Card Oddities, Oddball

A page at pro-football-reference.com called “Cups of Coffee” lists all of the pro football players who appeared in only one NFL, AFL, or AAFC game. Of course, when I discovered the page, I wondered if any of the players had appeared on football cards. I perused the list and came up with these:

Ronnie Knox

Ronnie Knox 1957 Topps football cardRonnie Knox played in one game for the Chicago Bears in 1957, but he did not throw a pass. It appears that he was the fourth-string quarterback, a rookie playing behind three veterans. Topps, oddly, printed cards of all four Bears quarterbacks in 1957. Knox also spent a few seasons in the CFL, and he appeared on a few CFL cards. You can usually find them on eBay.

Buddy Allen

1960 Fleer Buddy Allen football cardBuddy Allen had three carries in one game for the Denver Broncos in 1961. He apparently at least tried out for the Oakland Raiders the year before, because his only card is the 1960 Fleer card shown here. It is possible that he was on the Raiders’ roster in 1960, but the rosters I have found online show only the players who actually played in regular season games.

Jim Yeats

Jim Yeats 1960 Fleer football cardJim Yeats appeared in one game for the Houston Oilers in 1960, but he did not have any stats. The card pictured here is his 1960 Fleer card. Unfortunately, on his only card, Fleer misspelled his name. I heard from one of Yeats’s relatives a few years ago, and she told me that he was with the Packers in 1958 and 1959, and that he was still with the Oilers in 1961. He evidently did not see playing time those years.

1960 was the first year of the AFL, and the teams’ rosters apparently were not final when Fleer chose the players to include on their cards. Many of the players on 1960 Fleer cards did not see playing time in the AFL.

Don McKissack

1950 Topps Felt Back Don McKissack football card, yellow version1950 Topps Felt Back Dick McKissack football card, brown versionDon McKissack played in one game for the NFL’s Dallas Texans in 1952, two years after he was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams. If you count variations, he appeared on two cards in the 1950 Felt Backs set: a brown one and a yellow one. (The price guides assign higher prices to the yellow 1950 Topps Felt Backs, but the brown ones are actually scarcer.)

Mark Burke

Mark Burke 1974 West Virginia playing cardMark Burke saw playing time for the Philadelphia Eagles in the last game of the 1976 season. He returned one punt for fourteen yards, not too shabby. He appeared on the 1974 West Virginia playing card pictured here.

Steve Haggerty

Steve Haggerty 1974 Colorado Playing CardSteve Haggerty played in one game for the Denver Broncos in 1975, but he did not get any stats. Here he is on a 1974 Colorado Playing Card, though he had transferred to UNLV for the 1974 season.

Larry Joe

Larry Joe 1948 Leaf football cardLarry Joe played one game for the AAFC’s Buffalo Bills in 1949. He had a pretty good game, gaining 82 all-purpose yards. Joe appeared on a 1948 Leaf football card–one of the tough high numbers–with Penn State. I did a quick web search for Joe and found that he still holds the Penn State record for career kickoff return average.

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