The New York Jets’ New Ring of Honor

July 21st, 2010  |  Published in Halls of Fame

1965 Topps Winston Hill rookie football cardThe New York Jets announced yesterday that their new stadium, New Meadowlands Stadium, will include a Jets Ring of Honor. The Jets chose five former players and a former coach as the first inductees. Here are the inductees, along with information on their cards:

  • Weeb Ewbank – Ewbank coached the Jets from 1963 to 1973; before that he coached the Baltimore Colts from 1954 to 1962. I don’t believe Ewbank appeared by himself on a card in his coaching days, but he did appear on some of the Colts team cards (he’s named on the 1956 Topps card), and probably on the 1964 Topps Jets team card–if Topps didn’t use an old photo. It’s usually hard to pick out coaches on team cards, unfortunately, since the coaches don’t wear numbers. Ewbank did appear on some cards in tribute sets in the 1980s and later, though. You can find a lot of the tribute cards on eBay.
  • Winston HillHill’s rookie card is the 1965 Topps card pictured here, and he also appeared on a bunch of cards after that. You can see most of Hill’s cards in the Vintage Football Card Gallery.
  • Joe Klecko – Klecko’s rookie card is a 1978 Topps, and he appeared on a lot of cards in the 80s. As I wrote in an earlier post, I once bought a bunch of his rookie cards from Teletrade, and I sold them recently for next to nothing. Will they jump in price now that he’s in the Ring of Honor? Probably not. You can find most of Klecko’s cards on eBay.
  • Curtis Martin – Martin appeared on a billion cards between 1995 and 2006. I don’t handle modern cards, so I’m afraid I can’t say much about them. You can find a nice selection on eBay.
  • 1961 Topps Don Maynard rookie football card

  • Don Maynard – Maynard has two rookie cards, a 1961 Topps (pictured here) and a 1961 Fleer, and he appeared on cards every year through his last season, 1973. (His 1973 Topps card has him still with the Jets, but he played for the Cardinals that season.) You can see most of Maynard’s cards in the Vintage Football Card Gallery.
  • Joe NamathNamath’s rookie card, a 1965 Topps, is one of the most familiar cards in the hobby. (See J is for Joe Namath–and the 1965 Topps Tall Boys.) From 1965 to 1973, he appeared on numerous regular issue cards, oddballs, and inserts. Oddly, though he was still playing, he did not appear on any cards from 1974 to 1977. After he retired, he appeared on cards in a lot of tribute sets. You can see most of Namath’s cards from his playing days in the Vintage Football Card Gallery, and a lot of the rest on eBay.
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I’m Stuck on BAND-AID…

April 28th, 2010  |  Published in Silly Stuff

Don’t you hate it when picture day comes around and you’ve got a big ol’ scab? Or maybe these guys were sponsored by Johnson & Johnson?

Here’s John Cappelletti on his 1977 Topps card and Dave Lloyd on a 1970 Topps.

Here are two 1974 Topps cards: Calvin Hill sporting two bandages, and Dan Goich modeling the XL model.

Topps used images from the same photo session for six of Joe Namath’s cards from 1968 to 1970. Unfortunately, he had a bandage on his head. Here are Namath’s 1968 Topps Stand Up and 1970 Topps cards; see his gallery page for the whole array.

Topps used images from the same photo session for a couple of Roger Staubach’s cards, too. Steve Liskey, from, pointed out the bandage on Staubach’s 1975 Topps card. (Thanks, Steve!) I thought the image looked familiar, so I looked through Staubach’s earlier cards and found that the bandage had made its debut on his 1974 Topps card.

Here’s Les Richter with a boo-boo on his forehead on his regular 1961 Fleer card and on his 1961 Fleer Wallet Picture. Fleer used the same images for players who appeared in both sets.
1961 Fleer Les Richter football cardLes Richter 1961 Fleer Wallet Picture
Finally, we have Doug Cunningham on his 1972 Topps card. Remove his bandage, add some eyeliner, and he’s Gomez Addams!

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Merry Christmas!

December 25th, 2009  |  Published in My Collection

Merry Christmas, everyone! So, did anyone give or get cards?

I can remember getting cards as gifts only twice. The first time was in 1972, when my 6-year-old brother gave me a pack of football cards for Christmas. Since it was so late in the season, I had lost interest in collecting for that year, so after opening the pack, I put the cards in the closet with the rest of my collection, and I forgot about them. Years later, when I looked through the box, I found that the cards from my brother were the only one that weren’t beat up.

The cards happened to be 1972 Topps 3rd series cards, and one of them was the Joe Namath Pro Action card. It’s worth $75-100 now, and it’s the only card from my childhood collection worth anything at all. It turned out to be a great gift!

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J is for Joe Namath–and the 1965 Topps Tall Boys

October 9th, 2009  |  Published in ABCs of Vintage Football Cards, General Collecting Info

Joe Namath’s 1965 Topps rookie card is easily the most expensive regular issue football card of the 1960s. Come to think of it, it might also be more expensive than any regular issue 1950s card. Why is it so valuable? Well, just being a rookie card of a Hall of Fame player is enough to make it expensive, since collecting Hall of Fame rookie cards is a popular endeavor. (See H is for Hall of Famers.) The 1965 Topps “tall boy” set is also a classic, and one of the most popular vintage sets. And Namath himself, of course, was a flamboyant personality playing on a large market team. Remember his “guarantee” that the Jets would beat John Unitas and the Colts in Super Bowl III? How about his pantyhose ad, and his Noxema ad, with Farrah Fawcett?

Still, I have a hard time justifying the price of the Namath card, and it might be another card whose price is inflated by the price guides. (See the Jim Lansford discussion in B is for Bowman.) Just compare Namath’s rookie card to Bart Starr’s 1957 Topps rookie card: the Starr card is only slightly easier to find in high grade than the Namath, 1957 Topps is also a classic set, the Packers won a lot more championships, and most people think Starr was a better quarterback. Yet the Namath sells for two or three times more than the Starr? It seems that either the Namath is overvalued or the Starr is undervalued.

Might the Namath be more valuable because it is a short print? Well, it’s possible that the price guides added a premium for that, but I am not convinced that it even is a short print. The guides say that there are 132 short prints in the set (or 44 double prints, depending on how you look at it), but that sounds fishy to me. Assuming that the 176 cards were released in a single series–and I haven’t read anything to the contrary–my guess is that they were printed on a 198-card sheet, with 22 double prints. I don’t know why Topps would have used more than one sheet if the cards all fit on one. My Beckett catalog isn’t much help; it says merely that “Since this set was not printed in the standard fashion, many of the cards were printed in lesser quantities than the others.” Well, gee, Dr. Beckett, what fashion was it printed in?

To see what I’m talking about, you can look at a half-sheet of 1969 Topps basketball cards on the web site. The basketball cards are also tall boys, and the half-sheet of tall boys holds 9 rows of 11 cards, or 99 in total. A full sheet of tall boys would thus hold 198 cards.

Ben Davidson 1965 Topps rookie football cardAn article on the PSA web site sings the praises of the 1965 Topps set and describes the challenges in finding high-grade cards: poor centering, print marks, etc. Since that article covers the basics, I won’t repeat them here. One point in the article is inaccurate, though, or at least outdated: it says that the set’s two checklists are scarce, and that one of the checklists is the second-most valuable card in the set. PSA’s own population report, however, shows that many of the other cards in the set are scarcer than the checklists in high grades, and some of them sell for more than the checklists. (The last PSA 8 Jim Colclough to sell on eBay, for example, went for $909.) If what I have observed in other sets holds true, the cards most difficult to find in high grades are the ones that were on the corners and edges of the sheets.

The PSA article doesn’t mention that there were only eight AFL teams in 1965, so the 1965 Topps set has over 20 cards for each team. That is far more cards per team than most vintage sets provided, and it allowed Topps to print cards for players who typically would not have appeared on a card. In particular, the set contains an unusual number of cards of linemen and defensive players, and many of those are the players’ rookie cards. Pictured here is one example: the only card of defensive back Gerry Bussell. (Thanks to Pastor Scott for this observation–see his comment on D is for Defensive Players.)

Gerry Bussell 1965 Topps football cardAs they did every year from 1960 to 1967, in 1965 Topps grouped the cards by team. I like this feature: first in the set come all of the Patriots, then come all of the Bills, and so on. Also, if I know a player’s team, I can locate his card quickly, even if I don’t know his card number. This is because the teams are in alphabetical order by city, and the players are in alphabetical order within each team. I wonder if it is coincidence that 1960 through 1967 were also the years that Topps had competition in the football card market, and, except in 1960, their competitors grouped the cards by team, as well. In 1968, when Topps again had no competition, they reverted to the random ordering they had last used in 1959.

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Collecting Players’ Last Cards

September 23rd, 2009  |  Published in General Collecting Info

I read an article a long time ago–perhaps in Sports Collectors Digest?–written by someone who collected players’ last cards. A player’s last card has advantages over his rookie card, the collector said: It describes the highlights of the player’s nearly finished career, and it includes his nearly complete lifetime stats. It is likely to be from the player’s actual last year, whereas his rookie card is probably not from his rookie year at all. And, of course, it’s probably much cheaper than the player’s rookie card. Cool idea, I thought, and it stuck with me until now.

Here’s a nice example: a 1971 Topps Bart Starr card. Starr played in only four games in 1971, his last year, so the stats on the back of the card are close to his lifetime stats. The text lists the numerous Packer records he set in his career. And the price is 5-10% of what you’d pay for his rookie card.

Not all last cards are as nice as Starr’s, of course. Some don’t list all of the player’s stats, just his previous year and lifetime stats. Some, like John Unitas’s 1974 Topps card, show the player with an unfamiliar team. And some, like Joe Namath’s 1973 Topps card, are from well before the player’s last year. (Namath played until 1977.) But you can have all of these problems with rookie cards, as well.

All this considered, I still think it’s a cool idea.

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Sports Card Deja Vu

July 21st, 2009  |  Published in Adventures in Card Dealing, General Collecting Info

A customer once bought a Lions team card from me because his friend played for the Lions the year the card was printed. Unfortunately, his friend wasn’t in the picture, and the customer got upset. What he didn’t realize is that the card companies would use the same photos year after year, and the photo on his team card was an old one. I explained and offered a refund, but I didn’t hear back from him.

Here are the cards I used to demonstrate to him that I wasn’t making it up. The Philadelphia Gum Company used the same image of Mick Tingelhoff in 1964, 1965, and 1967. (They used a different image in 1966, but it wasn’t as good as this one.) If you browse through the Football Card Gallery, you can find many more instances where the card companies reused photos. Joe Namath is another good example: look for the Band-Aid on his head in cards from 1968 through 1970.

Sometimes the companies would even recolor the player’s uniform if he happened to change teams. John Henry Johnson’s 1957 Topps card, which I showed in an earlier post, is a great example–though in this case, Topps got John Henry’s new team wrong.

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