New in the Gallery: 1974 Colorado Playing Cards

April 2nd, 2011  |  Published in New in the Gallery, Oddball

Emery Moorehead 1974 University of Colorado Playing CardThis week I added 1974 University of Colorado Playing Cards to the Vintage Football Card Gallery. The cards came in a bridge set: one deck with black backs, and one with gold backs. Each 54-card deck contains cards of 40 players, 11 coaches, the athletic director, and 2 team logos.

By my count, 15 of the 40 players in the deck saw playing time in the NFL–a bit surprising, since the Buffs finished just 5-6 in 1974. Four players had NFL careers of ten or more seasons: Pete Brock and Emery Moorehead, with 12; Whitney Paul, with 11; and Rod Perry, with 10. At the other extreme, one player, Steve Haggerty, had an NFL career of exactly one game. For this distinction I added Haggerty to my blog article, “A Cup of Coffee–and a Card.”

Another player in the deck, Jim Kelleher, was the last player chosen in the 1977 NFL draft. For this he was dubbed “Mr. Irrelevant.” You can also read about Kelleher and other Misters Irrelevant in my blog.

1974 University of Colorado Football Playing Card back - gold1974 University of Colorado football playing card back - blackSeveral of the players who made the NFL appeared on Topps cards in the late 70s and early 80s. I don’t have cards that recent in the Gallery yet, but you can usually find them on eBay. The players whose cards I found were Emery Moorehead, Rod Perry, Dave Logan, Don Hasselbeck, and Bill Waddy.

For more decks of playing cards that picture football players, see the Oddball page of the Vintage Football Card Gallery.

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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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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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