Happy Birthday, Jim Kearney and Tony Davis!

January 21st, 2013  |  Published in Milestone Birthdays, Record Holders

Jim Kearney 1973 Topps rookie football cardToday is a milestone birthday for two players in the Vintage Football Card Gallery: Jim Kearney is 70 years old, and Tony Davis is 60.

Kearney played defensive back from 1965 to 1976 for the Detroit Lions, Kansas City Chiefs, and New Orleans Saints. He was a member of the Chiefs team that won Super Bowl IV against the Vikings. In 1972, Kearney returned four interceptions for touchdowns, tying an NFL record. He still shares that record with Ken Houston and Eric Allen.

Tony Davis 1973 University of Nebraska Football Playing CardKearney is pictured here on his rookie card, a 1973 Topps. He also appeared on a few other cards and stamps.

Tony Davis was a running back from 1976 to 1981 for the Cincinnati Bengals and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He also returned punts for two seasons with the Bengals. As far as I know, Davis did not appear on any regular issue football cards, but he did appear on University of Nebraska Playing Cards in 1973 and 1974. His 1973 card is pictured here, and you can see his 1974 card in the Gallery.

Happy birthday, Messrs. Kearney and Davis!

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The Wonderful Monds Family

March 6th, 2011  |  Published in Fathers and Sons

Wonder Monds 1973 Nebraska Cornhuskers playing cardIn yesterday’s article about 1974 Nebraska Cornhusker Playing Cards, I included an image of the Wonder Monds card. Von Spalding, of Von’s Card Blog, saw the article and pointed out that a player named Wonder Monds had also appeared on an Atlanta Braves baseball card. Von guessed that Wonder Monds the Brave was the son of Wonder Monds the ‘Husker, and, as it turns out, he guessed correctly. An article at bleacherreport.com says that Wonder Monds the Brave is actually the third Wonder, and his full name is Wonderful Terrific Monds III.

After Nebraska, Wonder II played three seasons for the CFL’s Ottawa Rough Riders and one season for the San Francisco 49ers. Wonder III played several years of minor league baseball in the Braves, Rockies, and Reds farm systems. And Wonder III’s brother, Mario, spent two seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals and Miami Dolphins.

The card pictured here is Wonder Monds II’s 1973 Nebraska Cornhuskers Playing Card. Son Mario appeared on a 2001 Bowman Chrome football card, which I know nothing about, but I did see a couple on eBay. Wonder III appeared on a handful of baseball cards, and you can find those on eBay, as well.

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Mr. Irrelevant

August 13th, 2010  |  Published in Silly Stuff

Since 1976, the last player selected in the NFL draft has been dubbed Mr. Irrelevant and invited to a celebration called Irrelevant Week. The event, which was started by Paul Salata, a former receiver for the San Francisco 49ers and original Baltimore Colts, raises money for Orange County charities. You can read about the this year’s Mr. Irrelevant and the 2010 festivities at IrrelevantWeek.com.

The Vintage Football Card Gallery has pictures of cards only up to 1976, so it includes only one card of an official Mister Irrelevant. It also, however, includes a few cards of players who would have been named Mr. Irrelevant if the title had been awarded earlier. Most of these players turned out to be relevant, after all, or they would not have made it onto football cards. Here are all of players in the Gallery who were chosen last in the NFL draft:

Bill Fischer, 1948

1950 Bowman Bill Fischer rookie football cardBill Fischer was the final player chosen in the 1948 draft; the Chicago Cardinals picked him in the 32nd round. Unfortunately, according to an article on buzzle.com, Fischer was ineligible for the NFL in 1948–perhaps because he was only a junior? So the Cardinals drafted him again in 1949, this time in the first round. Fischer played five seasons for the Cardinals and went to three Pro Bowls.

This is his rookie card, a 1950 Bowman. He also appeared on Bowman cards in 1951 and 1952.

John Schweder, 1949

1952 Bowman Small John Schweder rookie football cardJohn “Bull” Schweder was the 251st and last player chosen in the 1949 draft. The Philadelphia Eagles picked him, but he apparently did not make their roster in 1949. In 1950 he joined the Baltimore Colts, but the Colts folded after the season, and the team’s players were made available in the 1951 draft. In 1951, Schweder was again drafted, this time at pick number 103, by the Pittsburgh Steelers. He played for the Steelers from 1951 to 1955.

Pictured here is one of Schweder’s rookie cards, a 1952 Bowman Small. He also appeared on several other 1950s Bowman cards.

Sisto Averno, 1951

1953 Bowman Sisto Averno football cardSisto Averno was another member of the 1950 Baltimore Colts team who ended up in the draft when the team disbanded. Averno was the last player chosen in 1951, by the Cleveland Browns in the 30th round. He played for the New York Yanks in 1951, and the Yanks folded at the end of that season. The NFL gave the remnants of the Yanks to a new franchise in Dallas in 1952, and–guess what?–that franchise also folded at the end of the season. In 1953, the league awarded the remains of the Dallas team to another Baltimore Colts franchise, and Averno spent two years with the new Baltimore team before calling it a career. (See Bob Carroll’s article at profootballresearchers.com for a detailed description of the churn in the NFL in the early 1950s.)

Averno appeared on one card, this 1953 Bowman.

Jacque MacKinnon, 1961

1964 Topps Jacque MacKinnon rookie football cardJacque MacKinnon was the last player chosen in the 1961 NFL draft. The Philadelphia Eagles chose him with the 280th overall pick. He instead went to the AFL’s San Diego Chargers, and in nine years with the Chargers, he made the Pro Bowl twice.

The card pictured here is MacKinnon’s rookie card, a short print in the 1964 Topps set. He also appeared on several other Topps cards in the late 1960s. (On his 1969 Topps card, he looks like Emilio Estevez!)

Stan Hegener, 1975

1973 Nebraska Playing Card of Stan HegenerStan Hegener was the last player chosen in the 1975 NFL draft. The Pittsburgh Steelers chose him with the 442nd overall pick, but he apparently did not make the team. The card pictured here is a 1973 Nebraska playing card, from his college days. He also appeared on a 1974 Nebraska playing card.

Jim Kelleher, 1977

Jim Kelleher 1974 Colorado Playing CardJim Kelleher is the only official Mr. Irrelevant in the Gallery. The Mr. Irrelevant title was first awarded in 1976, and Kelleher was the last player chosen in the 1977 NFL draft. The Minnesota Vikings chose Kelleher with the 335th overall pick, but he did not see playing time in the NFL. The card here pictures Kelleher on his 1974 University of Colorado playing card.

The Mr. Irrelevant page on Wikipedia lists all of the players chosen last in the NFL draft, before and after 1976.

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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!

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New in the Gallery: 1973 Nebraska Playing Cards

May 29th, 2010  |  Published in Football Card Trivia, New in the Gallery, Oddball, Sites I Like

Tom Osborne 1973 Nebraska Cornhuskers Playing CardYesterday I added 1973 Nebraska Playing Cards to the Vintage Football Card Gallery. This standard deck of cards includes fifty-one cards of players, two cards (the jokers) showing a packed Memorial Stadium, and one card picturing coach Tom Osborne. Osborne coached the Cornhuskers for twenty-five years, and 1973 happened to be his first season.

A page on Wikipedia summarizes the 1973 Cornhusker season in detail. According to that page, twenty-four members of the 1973 Nebraska team went on to play professionally: fourteen in the NFL, three in the CFL, and seven in the World Football League. Nineteen of those players are included in my deck of playing cards. Coach Osborne had also spent some time in the NFL: he was a receiver for the Washington Redskins for two seasons in the early 1960s.

John Dutton 1973 Nebraska Cornhuskers playing cardOf the 1973 Huskers who made the NFL, John Dutton, a defensive end, was the most successful. Dutton played fourteen seasons for the Baltimore Colts and Dallas Cowboys, and he went to the Pro Bowl three times. He appeared on a lot of football cards as a professional, too. I don’t have any of them, since they are newer, but a lot of them are listed on eBay.

As far as I know, Bob Martin is the only other player in the 1973 playing card set who also appeared on a card as a professional. Martin played linebacker for four years for the Jets and 49ers, and he appeared on a 1980 Topps football card. You can find that card on eBay, too.

Two more players, Bob Nelson and Dave Humm, had ten-year NFL careers, and Nelson was a member of two Raiders teams that won the Super Bowl. Both played in reserve roles, though, and they did not make it onto cards as pros. They and several other 1973 Huskers later appeared in the 1989 Leesley set, however. I am not familiar with the Leesley cards, but they appear to be a Nebraska all-time star set. You guessed it: you can find them on eBay.

1973 Nebraska Playing Card backIn my research for this set, I also turned up a site called HuskerJ’s Collectibles. HuskerJ has pictures of a few more decks of Nebraska playing cards–as well as many more Cornhusker toys. The other decks of playing cards don’t appear to feature individual players, but they’re worth a peek.

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O is for Oddball

November 21st, 2009  |  Published in ABCs of Vintage Football Cards, Oddball

To a card collector, “oddballs” are collectible items that have some characteristics of cards–small size, two dimensions, pictures of players, team logos, and so on–but are not traditional trading cards. Some examples are coins, bottle caps, cap liners, discs, stamps, stickers, patches, pins, and playing cards. Many of them came on or in packages of food. Some were regional and featured a particular team.

I distinguish oddball items from inserts (see I is for Inserts), though some inserts also fit the description above. Why? Well, since inserts came in packs of cards, most of them are familiar to collectors, and there are enough of them to group them into a category of their own. Oddball items are the unfamiliar, the hard to categorize, the things that go under “miscellaneous.” They have brand names you might never have heard of, like Glendale and Drenks and Salada.

Any number of items can be considered oddball, and I’ll list just a few here. I don’t collect many of them–you have to draw a line somewhere–so I’ll mostly provide links to other places. The only oddballs I have in my collection are playing cards and stamps, which aren’t too far removed from trading cards.

Stamps

Raymond Berry 1964 Wheaties StampI am familiar four sets of vintage football stamps that were not inserts, and there are probably more. You can see 1964 Wheaties Stamps, 1969 Glendale Stamps, and 1972 Sunoco Stamps in the Vintage Football Card Gallery, and there is also a set of 1972 NFLPA Wonderful World Stamps, which I don’t yet have. Each of the sets had an accompanying album into which you could stick the stamps. A 1964 Wheaties stamp of Raymond Berry is pictured here.

Discs

1976 was the year of the disc. Five sets of football discs were printed that year: Coke Bears Discs, Crane (potato chip) Discs, Buckman Discs, Saga Discs, and Pepsi Discs.

1976 is newer than I typically deal with, and I have never had much interest in the discs, so I don’t know a lot about them. I assume that the same company printed all of them, since I don’t know of any others printed before or since 1976. A friend sent me a couple of Crane Discs once; they’re about the size of a beer coaster. Pictured here is one of them, Charley Taylor.

The PSA registry shows all of the players in the disc sets, and you can see lots of examples on eBay.

Playing Cards

I initially included playing cards under Oddball items, but there are enough of them that I thought they deserved their own category. See P is also for Playing Cards for a list of vintage playing cards that picture NFL and college football players.

Other Oddballs

As I said at the top, I don’t own many oddball items, and my knowledge of them is limited. Here are a few more, along with links to the set compositions and some examples. As I learn more about them, I’ll give these oddballs sections of their own. If I am missing your favorite, let me know and I’ll add it here.

Oddball Set Set Composition Examples Notes
1962-63 Salada Coins PSA Set Registry eBay Attractive plastic coins, came with Salada Tea.
1963 Nalley’s Coins (CFL) ? eBay Cool plastic coins of CFL players, distributed in Nalley’s Potato Chips.
1964 Nalley’s Coins (CFL) PSA Set Registry eBay Mo’ Nalley’s
1963 Rich Dairy Cap Liners (Bills) PSA Set Registry PSA Set Registry Creepy, floating Bills’ heads.
1965 Coke Caps ? eBay More floating heads.
1966 Coke Caps ? eBay Still more floating heads.
1969 Drenks Pins (Packers) PSA Set Registry eBay Distributed in Drenk’s Potato Chips
1972 NFLPA Iron Ons SGC Set Registry eBay Sometimes called “fabric cards.” To card collectors, everything’s a card.
1972 NFLPA Vinyl Stickers SGC Set Registry eBay I never much liked the big heads on little cartoon bodies concept. See the George Blanda sticker above.
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