Happy Birthday, Lindon Crow!

April 4th, 2013  |  Published in Brothers, Milestone Birthdays

Lindon Crow 1962 Topps football cardFormer NFL defensive back Lindon Crow is celebrating his 80th birthday today. Crow played from 1955 to 1964 for the Chicago Cardinals, New York Giants, and Los Angeles Rams. In 1956, his second season, he led the league with 11 interceptions. He played in two NFL Championship games, both with the Giants, in 1958 and 1959. The Giants lost both games to the Baltimore Colts.

Crow’s younger brother, Wayne Crow, also played professional football. He was a halfback and punter for four seasons with the AFL’s Oakland Raiders and Buffalo Bills.

Crow appeared on football cards with all three of his NFL teams. My favorite, his 1962 Topps card, is pictured here. You can see the rest of his cards in the Vintage Football Card Gallery.

According to oldestlivingprofootball.com, Crow is the 494th oldest living American pro football player.

Happy birthday, Mr. Crow!

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Another Piece for My 1962 Topps Virtual Uncut Sheet

March 15th, 2013  |  Published in New in the Gallery

Miscut 1962 Topps John Unitas football cardYesterday, via an eBay purchase, I obtained another card that will help me figure out how 1962 Topps football cards were arranged on uncut sheets. The John Unitas card shown here has a sliver of Bill Forester’s card on the left. This bit of information let me add the Unitas to a piece of the uncut sheet I already had. To see where the new piece fit, scroll toward the bottom of the 1962 Topps virtual uncut sheet page of the Vintage Football Card Gallery. Another ten years, and I should have it finished!

For other virtual uncut sheets, some completed and some not, see a previous article, U is for Uncut Sheets.

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More Progress on My 1962 Topps Virtual Uncut Sheet

January 19th, 2013  |  Published in New in the Gallery

Miscut 1962 Topps Boyd Dowler football cardMiscut 1962 Topps Steve Myhra football cardThis week I picked up two more miscut cards that will help me figure out how 1962 Topps football cards were arranged on the uncut sheets. The Boyd Dowler card shown here has a sliver of Roger LeClerc’s card on the right, and the Steve Myhra card has a bit of Joe Walton’s card on the right. Both of these clues let me add on to pieces of the puzzle I already had. You can see my progress on the 1962 Topps virtual uncut sheet page of the Vintage Football Card Gallery. Scroll toward the bottom to see where the new pieces fit.

Why are uncut sheets interesting? See a previous article, U is for Uncut Sheets.

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Angelo Coia, Bears, Redskins, and Falcons Receiver

January 4th, 2013  |  Published in Player Deaths

Angelo Coia 1962 Topps rookie football cardAngelo Coia, a receiver from 1960 to 1966 for the Chicago Bears, Washington Redskins, and Atlanta Falcons, passed away on January 2. Coia was a member of the Bears team that won the NFL Championship in 1963. He also was a member of the first Falcons team, in 1966. According to Coia’s obituary at philly.com, he and Herb Adderley were teammates on the football and track teams at Northeast High School in Philadelphia. He played college football at The Citadel and USC.

Coia is pictured here on his rookie card, a 1962 Topps. He also appeared on a 1962 Post Cereal card and a 1965 Philadelphia football card.

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Progress on My 1962 Topps Virtual Uncut Sheet

November 28th, 2012  |  Published in New in the Gallery

Miscut 1962 Topps Bill George football cardI have seen one half of a sheet of 1962 Topps football cards, but not the second half. By looking at badly miscut cards, however, I have been able to start piecing the second half-sheet together. You can tell from this Bill George card, for instance, that Dave Baker’s card was next to it on the uncut sheet. Neither of the cards appear on the one half-sheet I have seen, so they must have been on the second half-sheet.

To see the layout of the first half-sheet and my progress on the second half-sheet, see my 1962 Topps virtual uncut sheet page. For a full list of the virtual uncut sheets I have assembled, see a previous blog article, U is for Uncut Sheets.

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Recycled Images on 1969 Topps Mini-Card Albums

December 1st, 2011  |  Published in error cards, Football Card Trivia

As I wrote last week, one of my readers pointed out that the player on the cover of the San Francisco 49ers 1969 Topps Mini-Card Album is Joe Walton, and that the same image appeared in the inset photo of Walton’s 1962 Topps football card. This made me curious, so I checked to see if other inset photos from 1962 Topps cards had been reused on 1969 Mini-Card Albums. Sure enough, I found a few:

First, the image of Bart Starr on the Green Bay Packers Mini-Card Album appeared in the inset of Starr’s 1962 Topps card.
Green Bay Packers 1969 Topps Mini-Card AlbumBart Starr 1962 Topps football card
Next, the image of John Unitas on the Baltimore Colts Mini-Card Album was also used in the inset photo of Zeke Bratkowski’s 1962 Topps card. Topps changed Unitas’s number 19 to Bratkowski’s number 12 on the 1962 Topps card, as I noted in an earlier article.
Baltimore Colts 1969 Topps Mini-Card AlbumZeke Bratkowski 1962 Topps football card
The image on the Minnesota Vikings Mini-Card Album also appeared in the inset photo of Don Perkins’s 1962 Topps card, but the player’s number is different. I’m guessing that the image was altered for the 1962 card, so the player probably isn’t Perkins.
Minnesota Vikings 1969 Topps Mini-Card AlbumDon Perkins 1962 Topps rookie football card
The image on the Denver Broncos Mini-Card Album is the same one used in the inset photo on Ollie Matson’s 1962 Topps card, but again, the player’s number is different. Matson was number 33 with the Rams, so it appears that the image on his 1962 card was altered. Does anyone recognize the player?
Denver Broncos 1969 Topps Mini-Card AlbumOllie Matson 1962 Topps football card
Finally, the image on the Washington Redskins Mini-Card Album is the same as the inset on John Aveni’s 1962 Topps card. Again, the player’s number appears to have been changed on the 1962 Topps card. I believe that the player is Dick James, who wore number 47 for the Redskins in 1961.
Washington Redskins 1969 Topps Mini-Card AlbumJohn Aveni 1962 Topps football card
Given that there are so many altered jersey numbers on the 1962 Topps cards, I wonder how many of the inset photos actually picture the right player. Not many, I’ll bet.

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Christmas Carrolls

December 24th, 2010  |  Published in Silly Stuff

1962 Topps Carroll Dale rookie football cardMerry Christmas! What better way to celebrate than with a few Carrolls? Here we have a 1962 Topps Carroll Dale, a 1951 Topps Magic Carroll McDonald, and a 1955 49ers Team Issue Carroll Hardy. I tried putting little Santa hats on them, but that didn’t go very well, so I left them hat-less.

Enjoy your families, feasts, and football games!

1951 Topps Magic Carroll McDonald football cardCarroll Hardy 1955 49ers team issue photo

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New in the Gallery: 1962 Topps Virtual Uncut Sheet

December 16th, 2010  |  Published in General Collecting Info, New in the Gallery

Yesterday I added a virtual uncut sheet of 1962 Topps football cards to the Vintage Football Card Gallery. Looking at the sheet–and having looked at numerous other uncut sheets–I convinced myself that the price guides have misidentified many of the short prints in this set. I would be interested in your feedback.

(Click the image to see the uncut sheet page.)
Section of virtual uncut sheet of 1962 Topps football cards

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Where They Are Now: Andy Nelson and John Bramlett

December 3rd, 2010  |  Published in Where They Are Now

Andy Nelson 1962 Topps football cardLast week I talked with a customer who collects football cards of University of Memphis (formerly Memphis State University) alumni, and he told me about the web sites of two alumni, Andy Nelson and John Bramlett. It was interesting to see where the players were now, so I thought I’d pass the web sites along. If I find enough sites of former players, I’ll create a page to summarize them.

Andy Nelson, after graduating from Memphis, played eight seasons with the Baltimore Colts. His 1962 Topps card is pictured here, and he also appeared on a 1959 Topps card. After retiring from football, Nelson founded Andy Nelson’s Barbeque, in Cockeysville, Maryland. The business still appears to be going strong. (I thought about joining Andy’s Swine Social Club, but I live kind of far away.) There’s a recent picture of Nelson in a Baltimore Examiner article about the restaurant.

John Bramlett 1967 Topps rookie football cardAnother Memphis grad, John “Bull” Bramlett, played seven seasons for the Broncos, Dolphins, Patriots, and Falcons. The card pictured here is Bramlett’s rookie card, a 1967 Topps; he also appeared on a 1969 Topps 4-in-1 insert and a 1971 Topps card. After football, Bramlett started John Bramlett Ministries, in Cordova, Tennessee. The web site includes a few recent photos of Bramlett.

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The Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor

September 11th, 2010  |  Published in Halls of Fame, New in the Gallery, Uniforms

1962 Topps Don Perkins rookie football cardThis morning I added the ability to search the Vintage Football Card Gallery for members of the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor. Just go to the Advanced Search page, choose Cowboys Ring of Honor in one of the “Honor” menus, and hit the Search button.

Pictured here is one member of the Ring, Don Perkins, on his 1962 Topps rookie card. He’s wearing the Cowboys’ first home jersey, my all-time favorite over all the NFL teams. He doesn’t appear to be wearing it in the black-and-white inset photo, though, so I wonder if that is a college photo. Or maybe it’s not even him: on some 1962 cards, Topps pictured a different player in the inset photo, sometimes altering the image to look like the player on the card. For examples of that, see my earlier blog article on the subject.

Looking through the cards I have of members of the Cowboys Ring of Honor, it’s striking that there are no cards of players who had moved on to different teams. It is possible that I don’t have all of the players’ cards, but the impression I get is that the Cowboys’ best players stayed with the Cowboys.

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Olympic Medalists on Football Cards

June 11th, 2010  |  Published in Football Card Trivia

1968 Topps Homer Jones football card backOne day, while scanning cards, I noticed that the cartoon on the back of Homer Jones’s 1968 Topps card said that “Homer defeated the Russians in the 1960 Olympics.” Hmm, I thought, that’s a good idea for a blog article. There was a problem, though: I couldn’t find a reference saying that Jones had ever competed in the Olympics. He was a star sprinter at Texas Southern, and he might have defeated the Russians in some competition, but it doesn’t appear to have been in the Olympic Games. (According to his Wikipedia page, however, Jones did invent the touchdown spike, which is “said to be the origin of post-touchdown celebrations.” While not quite beating the Russians, that’s still quite a legacy.)

In my research for Jones, I found a list of other pro football players who had competed in the Olympics. It’s a long list, so I narrowed it down to those who had won medals, and then to those who appeared on vintage football cards. That left six players, a number suitable for a blog article. I also added one more I knew of, Brick Muller.

Jim Thorpe

1933 Sport Kings Jim Thorpe rookie cardJim Thorpe won gold medals in the pentathlon and decathlon in the Stockholm Olympics in 1912. In 1913, the International Olympic Committee took the medals away when they learned that Thorpe had played minor league baseball (and thus had been a professional athlete) before participating in the Olympics. In 1982, Thorpe’s family succeeded in having his medals restored.

Thorpe played professional football from 1915 to 1928, for six different teams. He was a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s inaugural class in 1963. Thorpe also played professional baseball–including seven seasons in the major leagues–from 1909 to 1922. Pictured here is his rookie card, from the 1933 Sport Kings multi-sport set.

Harold “Brick” Muller

Brick Muller 1926 Spalding Champions football cardBrick Muller took a silver medal in the high jump at the 1920 Olympics in Antwerp. He played and coached one season in the NFL, 1926, for the Los Angeles Buccaneers. (The Buccaneers lasted just one season in the NFL.) Like Jim Thorpe, in 1951 he was among the inaugural class of players elected to College Football Hall of Fame. Muller is shown here on his 1926 Spalding Champions card. He also appeared on a 1955 Topps All-American football card.

Clyde Scott

1950 Bowman Clyde Scott rookie football cardClyde Scott won a silver medal in the 110 meter hurdles in the 1948 Olympics in London. He played four seasons in the NFL, as a running back and defensive back for the Eagles and Lions. He appeared on the 1950 Bowman card pictured here, and on a 1951 Bowman card. According to Scott’s profile on the Encyclopedia of Arkansas web site, the readers of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette named Scott the state’s Athlete of the Century in 2000.

Ollie Matson

1962 Topps Ollie Matson football cardOllie Matson won a bronze medal in the 400 meters and a silver in the 1600 meter relay in the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki. He then had a fourteen-year, Hall of Fame career in the NFL. Matson appeared on a lot of cards. Pictured here is his 1962 Topps card.

Bo Roberson

1966 Topps Bo Roberson football cardBo Roberson took silver in the long jump in the 1960 Olympics in Rome, missing the gold medal by a centimeter. He then played six seasons in the AFL, for four different teams. His 1966 Topps card is pictured here. According to a his profile at ivy50.com, after football, Roberson attended law school, earned a master’s degree at Whitworth College, and earned his doctorate degree at age 58. Wow.

Bob Hayes

Bob Hayes 1971 Topps Game Card“Bullet” Bob Hayes won two gold medals in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, in the 100 meter sprint and 400 meter relay. Hayes then played wide receiver for eleven years for the Cowboys and 49ers, and he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009. Hayes appeared on many football cards; the one pictured here is a 1971 Topps Game card.

Henry Carr

1966 Philadelphia Henry Carr rookie football cardHenry Carr also won two gold medals in the 1964 Tokyo Games, in the 200 meter sprint and 1600 meter relay. The New York Giants, according to an article at pe.com, then signed Carr primarily to cover Bob Hayes. Carr spent three years with the Giants, the highlight of his career being a 101-yard interception return for a touchdown in 1966. His 1966 Philadelphia card is pictured here.

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Traded Players on 1962 Post Cereal Cards

April 20th, 2010  |  Published in Football Card Trivia

A few weeks ago, when I reported that Cliff Livingston had passed away, Pastor Scott pointed out that Livingston’s 1962 Post Cereal card showed him with the Giants, and his 1962 Topps card showed him with the Vikings. Scott also named four other players who appeared on different teams on their 1962 Post and 1962 Topps cards. In all five cases, the player had been traded in the off-season, Post listed him with his old team, and Topps listed him with his new one. Post apparently was aware of the trades, because on four of the five cards, they added a footnote showing the player’s new team. Perhaps the cards were already close to production, and it was easier to add footnotes to the cards, rather than change their text.

Here are the cards that Pastor Scott pointed out:

The Browns traded Bobby Mitchell along with Leroy Jackson to the Redskins for Heisman winner Ernie Davis. (Davis contracted leukemia and never played.) Mitchell’s 1962 Post Cereal card shows him with the Browns; his 1962 Topps card shows him with the Redskins.

The Browns traded Milt Plum, Tom Watkins, and Dave Lloyd to the Lions for Howard Cassady, Bill Glass, and Jim Ninowski. Post had both Plum and Cassady with their old teams.

The Eagles traded Bill Barnes to the Redskins with Bob Freeman for Jim Schrader and Ben Scotti. Barnes’s Post Cereal card shows him still with the Eagles; his Topps card shows him with the Redskins.

Finally, the Giants traded Cliff Livingston to the Vikings for Dick Pesonen and a draft pick. Here are Livingston’s two 1962 cards:

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Cliff Livingston, Giants, Vikings, and Rams Linebacker

March 22nd, 2010  |  Published in Brothers, Player Deaths

Cliff Livingston, who played linebacker twelve years for the Giants, Vikings, and Rams, died on March 13. He played in four NFL championship games with the Giants, and they won one of them, in 1956. Livingston was an All-Pro in one season, 1961.

Though he had a long, successful career, Livingston appeared on only one regular issue card, the 1962 Topps card shown here. He also appeared on a 1962 Post Cereal card.

Livingston’s brother, Howie Livingston, also played in the NFL.

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T is for Topps, Part 2: 1960-1963

February 5th, 2010  |  Published in ABCs of Vintage Football Cards

Topps produced a great variety of football cards in the 1960s: AFL cards and NFL cards, cards with natural backgrounds and cards with colored ones, cards oriented horizontally and cards oriented vertically, cards bordered by stars and cards that looked like little TVs, standard-sized cards and “tall boys.” A collector who focused on just 1960s Topps football cards could build a large, attractive, and interesting collection.

Topps had competition in the 1960s, and I attribute some of their creativity to that. The competition coincided with the emergence of the AFL: while the AFL and NFL competed for fans, the card companies aligned with the leagues and competed as well.

Fleer was the card company of the early AFL. From 1960 to 1963, Fleer produced three AFL-only sets and one AFL/NFL set. In the same time period, Topps produced three NFL sets and one AFL/NFL set. Both companies produced their combined AFL/NFL sets in 1961.

In 1964, Philadelphia Gum Company obtained the rights to print cards of NFL players, and they did so until 1967. Topps countered with AFL-only sets from 1964 to 1967.

In 1968, after the NFL and AFL agreed to merge, Topps obtained the rights to both leagues. By the early 1970s, without competition, Topps’s creativity began to wane. That rant is for a later post, though. This week we’ll look at Topps’s offerings from 1960 to 1963, the years they competed with Fleer.

1960 Topps

1960 Topps is my least favorite 60s Topps set, probably because it is less colorful than their later sets. I am not fond of the big footballs with the players’ names in them, either: they remind me of the big white footballs on 1953 Bowman cards. Though Topps evidently had the rights to use the teams’ logos, they put them only on the team cards, which is unfortunate. I do like that the images of the players cover most of the cards, unlike the peephole views on 1958 Topps cards.

The 1960 Topps set was printed on a single 132-card sheet. There is a virtual 1960 Topps sheet, and a few notes about the set, in the Vintage Football Card Gallery. One bit of trivia about the set is that three of the cards–Bill Wade, Doug Atkins, and Frank Varrichione–have reversed images. Another is that, to my knowledge, this was the first Topps set to contain inserts in the packs. The inserts were metallic stickers: novel, but homely.

1960 Topps was the first major set in which all cards from a given team were grouped together numerically. I always liked this feature. Topps continued the practice until 1968, then abandoned it. Coincidentally–or was it?–1968 was the year they no longer had competition.

Finally, the 1960 Topps set was the first in which the Dallas Cowboys appeared. The Cowboys joined the NFL in 1960. Doyle Nix is the only Cowboy in the 1960 Topps set who did not appear on an earlier card for a different team.

1961 Topps

The 1961 Topps set was released in two series, the first containing NFL players, and the second containing AFL players. This is how Fleer released their 1961 set, as well. Though the price guides give higher values to the second series cards in both sets, the second series cards are in fact more plentiful than the first series cards. Be skeptical of your price guides.

1961 Topps was the first set to contain action cards, like the Eddie LeBaron card shown here. Each action card was framed by a woodgrain TV, a precursor to the 1966 Topps cards. The 1961 Topps and Fleer sets were the first to contain Minnesota Vikings cards. The Vikings were an expansion team in 1961.

Oddly, most of the Houston Oilers in the 1961 Topps set are shown in pink jerseys, though their team color was powder blue. Only George Blanda was spared the pink treatment.

1962 Topps

I love the design of the 1962 Topps set. Each player card shows two images of the player: an above-the-waist still image, and a black-and-white inset photo of the player in action. Some of the inset photos show the wrong players, however. It turns out that Topps even altered some of the photos to give the impostors different numbers.

The 1962 Topps set is tough to assemble in high grade, because the black borders show wear easily. I think high grade is the only way to go, though, since even a little wear can make the cards look bad.

I have seen a few recolored cards from this set, where someone tried to touch up a corner or an edge with a black marker. You can often detect recoloring by looking at the edges of a card, because the ink from a black marker will bleed onto the edge.

Other than the unique design, I can’t think of any remarkable features of this set. The unique design is enough for me, though.

1963 Topps

The 1963 Topps set is another tough one. Its colored borders are slightly more forgiving of wear than 1962’s black borders, but this is another set I would try to get in high grade.

There are a lot of short prints in the 1963 Topps set; they are marked in the Vintage Football Card Gallery. That tells only part of the story, though. Many of the short prints–in particular some of the Steelers and Redskins–are practically impossible to find well-centered. Most of the problem cards were on the edges of the sheets. You can see what the sheets looked like on my 1963 Topps virtual uncut sheet page.

There is one bit of innovation in the 1963 Topps set. The backs have questions with hidden answers, like some scratch-off cards. (See S is for Scratch-Offs.) You don’t scratch them to see the answers, though. Instead, you hold a piece of red cellophane over them. I used to have a bit of the red cellophane, which I assume came in a pack with the cards, but I can’t locate it now. I might never know the answers to these questions.

One last thing worth mentioning is that the backgrounds of many 1963 Topps cards vary in color: you can find them with either a blue sky or a purple one. There used to be a good article on geocities about the variations, but the article is no longer there. Someday maybe I’ll write about the variations myself. Until then, you can see the purple and blue variations of Willie Wood’s rookie card in one of my previous blog articles.

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A Fun Message Board Thread: “Customized” Sports Cards

November 30th, 2009  |  Published in Interesting Message Board Threads

I found this “customized” 1962 Topps Jim Ringo card buried in my junk card drawer today. The Packers traded Ringo to the Eagles after the 1963 season (because he asked for a raise, according to a Packers legend), and whoever owned this card adjusted it for the trade. It reminded me of a thread in the Collectors Universe forums about cards that kids had “improved.” A couple are pretty funny–check them out!

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