Jimmy Harris, Eagles, Rams, Texans, and Cowboys Defensive Back

August 10th, 2011  |  Published in Player Deaths

Jimmy Harris 1957 Topps rookie football cardJimmy Harris, a defensive back in the NFL and AFL from 1957 to 1961, passed away on August 8. Harris played one season each for the Philadelphia Eagles, Los Angeles Rams, Dallas Texans, and Dallas Cowboys. He did not play the 1959 season.

Before his pro career, Harris was a star quarterback at Oklahoma. He went 25-0 over three seasons, contributing over half of the wins in the Sooners’ 47-game winning streak. NewsOK.com has an account of Harris’s college career, along with lots of photos.

The card pictured here is Harris’s rookie card, a 1957 Topps. Topps apparently colored a college photo of Harris to put him in Eagles green, because the image closely resembles the photo in the NewsOK.com article, and Harris wore number 20 for the Eagles, not number 15. The image on Harris’s 1960 Fleer card appears to have come from the same photo session, as well.

Harris appeared in a Dallas Texans uniform on a 1961 Fleer card and a 1961 Fleer Wallet Photo, but he played for the Cowboys that season.

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A Modest Start to a 1959 Topps 1st Series Virtual Uncut Sheet

August 8th, 2011  |  Published in New in the Gallery

Over the weekend I picked up a couple of miscut 1959 Topps first series cards. That allowed me to add a 1959 Topps section to my page of partial virtual uncut sheets. The cards are Bill Barnes, with a sliver of Leo Nomellini’s card showing on the right side, and the Colts pennant, with a sliver of Bob St. Clair’s card on the left side.
1959 Topps Bill Barnes football card1959 Topps Baltimore Colts pennant card
A previous blog article, U is for Uncut Sheets, contains a full list of the virtual uncut football card sheets I have completed. As always, if you have miscut cards from sheets I haven’t done yet, I’d love to see them.

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Richard Harris, Winnipeg Blue Bombers Coach

July 26th, 2011  |  Published in Player Deaths

Richard Harris 1974 Topps football cardRichard Harris, the assistant head coach and defensive line coach of the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers, passed away this afternoon. The Winnipeg Free Press web site has a report and a recent photo. Harris was a defensive lineman in the NFL from 1971 to 1977, playing for the Philadelphia Eagles, Chicago Bears, and Seattle Seahawks.

Harris appeared on one football card during his playing days, the 1974 Topps card pictured here. He also appeared on a 1972 Sunoco Stamp.

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Don “The Magnet” Hultz’s Fumble Recovery Record

March 16th, 2011  |  Published in Record Holders

Here’s another old record from the nfl.com individual records page: in the 1963 season, Don Hultz, a rookie for the Minnesota Vikings, recovered nine opponents’ fumbles. That broke Joe Schmidt’s record of eight, set in 1955, and no player has come close since. According to The Vikings Timeline at vikingupdate.com, Hultz’s feat earned him a new nickname, “The Magnet.”

In 1964, the Vikings traded Hultz to the Philadelphia Eagles, and he never again came close to his 1963 record. Hultz’s page at pro-football-reference.com says that in his last eleven seasons, he recovered just three more opponents’ fumbles.

The card pictured here is Hultz’s rookie card, a 1968 Topps. He also appeared on a 1972 Sunoco Stamp and a 1973 Topps card.

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Frank Ziegler, Philadelphia Eagles Halfback

March 7th, 2011  |  Published in Player Deaths

Frank Ziegler 1952 Bowman Small football cardFrank Ziegler, who played halfback for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1949 to 1953, passed away on March 6. According to his page at pro-football-reference.com, Ziegler finished second in the NFL in rushing in 1950. He was a member of the 1949 Eagles team that finished 11-1 and won the NFL Championship.

The card pictured here is Ziegler’s 1952 Bowman Small football card. He also appeared on a 1952 Bowman Large card and a 1953 Bowman card. Bowman used the same image for all three cards.

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Ollie Matson, Hall of Fame Everything

February 20th, 2011  |  Published in Player Deaths

Ollie Matson 1952 Bowman Large rookie football cardWhen I read yesterday that Ollie Matson had passed away, I thought I’d do a quick web search for him. It kept me busy for a couple of hours. A San Francisco Chronicle article provides the best summary I found of Matson’s career. The article includes a recent photo and a few photos from his playing days.

Before reading about Matson yesterday, I didn’t know about his 1951 San Francisco Dons team. The Dons went undefeated in 1951, but, because they refused to play without their two black team members, Matson and Burl Toler, they were not invited to a bowl game. A book about the team, by Dr. Kristine Setting Clark, is available. Two other Pro Football Hall of Famers, Gino Marchetti and Bob St. Clair, were also members of the 1951 Dons team.

Matson’s two rookie cards–1952 Bowman Large and 1952 Bowman Small–picture him in his Dons uniform. His 1952 Bowman Large card, pictured on the right, is one of my all-time favorite football cards. The back of the card shows that Matson was drafted by the Chicago Cardinals in 1952. He shared NFL Rookie of the Year honors that season with Hugh McElhenny.

Ollie Matson 1959 Topps football cardBefore joining the Cardinals, Matson ran track in the 1952 Helsinki Summer Olympics. He won two medals: a bronze in the 400-meter dash and a silver in the 1600-meter relay. (For other pro football players who won Olympic medals, see my blog article on the subject.)

According to Matson’s page on the Pro Football Hall of Fame web site, he spent the 1953 season in the military, and he returned to the Cardinals in 1954. In total, he played 14 seasons for the Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, Detroit Lions, and Philadelphia Eagles. According to his page at pro-football-reference.com, he was a fullback, halfback, flanker, defensive back, and kick returner at various times during his NFL career. He is a member of the Cardinals Ring of Honor and the Philadelphia Eagles Honor Roll.

During his long NFL career, Matson appeared on at least 16 football cards. My favorite, after his 1952 Bowman cards, is his 1959 Topps card, pictured on the left.

You can see all of Ollie Matson’s football cards in the Vintage Football Card Gallery.

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Gerry Huth, Giants, Eagles, and Vikings Guard

February 15th, 2011  |  Published in Player Deaths

Gerry Huth 1963 Topps football cardGerry Huth, a guard for six seasons with the New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, and Minnesota Vikings, passed away on February 11. Huth was a member of the 1956 Giants and 1960 Eagles NFL Championship teams. His obituary at newcomerlouisville.com includes a summary of his football career.

Huth’s only football card, the 1963 Topps card pictured here, was issued in his last NFL season. This is the “blue sky” variation of the card; there is also a “purple sky” variation. You can see the variations side-by-side in the PSA Set Registry.

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He Ain’t Whitey, He’s His Brother

November 13th, 2010  |  Published in Brothers, Football Card Trivia

1951 Bowman Al Wistert football cardYesterday, while I was adding the Eagles Honor Roll to the Vintage Football Card Gallery, I did a web search for “Whitey Wistert.” Al Wistert is a member of the Eagles Honor Roll, and some of his cards say “Al ‘Whitey’ Wistert.”

My search results were interesting: they included a lot of references to Al’s football cards and a lot of references to Al’s older brother, Francis “Whitey” Wistert. Only a couple of non-football-card references, which appeared way down in my search results, referred to Al as “Whitey.” Most references to Al said his nickname was “Ox.”

According to an article on profootballresearchers.org, both Francis and Al were called “Whitey.” I’m guessing, though, that if people called Al “Whitey,” they did so out either out of confusion or as a tribute to Francis. Francis was a football and baseball star at Michigan, and he played major league baseball for Cincinnati.

Anyway, since Al’s brother Francis was well-known as “Whitey,” since Al was more often called “Ox,” and since mistakes are far from unusual on old football cards, I would say that calling Al “Whitey” was just another card company mistake. I suspect that some writers referred to Al as “Whitey” because that’s what it said on his cards.

Pictured here is one of Al’s error cards, a 1951 Bowman. His 1948 Leaf and 1949 Leaf cards also say “Whitey.”

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The Philadelphia Eagles Honor Roll

November 12th, 2010  |  Published in Halls of Fame, New in the Gallery

1974 Topps Harold Carmichael rookie football cardToday I added the ability to search the Vintage Football Card Gallery for members of the Philadelphia Eagles Honor Roll. I found the list of Honor Roll inductees, along with summaries of their careers, in the Eagles media guide. As I have written in earlier posts, I like looking at team halls of fame because they include the second tier of stars, the ones who have not made it into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

One name on the Eagles Honor Roll surprised me: Ollie Matson. I didn’t know that he had been an Eagle! So I looked up his stats and found that he had played for Philadelphia from 1964 to 1966, his last three seasons before retiring. He didn’t appear on a football card during those years, I suppose because his production had waned by then. According to Wikipedia, when the Eagles introduced their Honor Roll in 1987, they inducted all former Eagles who were members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. So they included Matson, though his best years had been with the Cardinals and Rams.

Another member of the Eagles Honor Roll inaugural class, Harold Carmichael, is pictured above. This is Carmichael’s rookie card, a 1974 Topps.

You can use the Gallery’s Advanced Search page to find cards of members of the Eagles Honor Roll or other team halls of fame.

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Woody Peoples, 49ers and Eagles Guard

October 15th, 2010  |  Published in Player Deaths

1970 Topps Woody Peoples rookie football cardWoody Peoples, a guard for thirteen seasons with the San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles, passed away on Tuesday. Peoples made the Pro Bowl twice for the 49ers, in 1972 and 1973, and he was a member of the Eagles’ 1980 NFC Championship team. A tribute to Peoples at lehighvalleylive.com includes a nice photo of him warming up for Super Bowl XV.

Peoples appeared on a few cards during his long career. The card pictured here is his rookie card, a 1970 Topps. He also appeared on a 1973 Topps card, a 1981 Topps card, and a 1972 Sunoco stamp. His 1981 Topps card, his only card with the Eagles, was actually issued the year after he retired.

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New in the Gallery: 1960 Eagles Team Issue Photos

August 29th, 2010  |  Published in Football Card Oddities, New in the Gallery, Team Issue Photos

Today I added 1960 Eagles Team Issue Photos to the Vintage Football Card Gallery. There are eleven 5-by-7 prints in the set, and the prints have blank backs.

Jimmy Carr 1960 Philadelphia Eagles Team Issue PhotoThe composition of the set is easily the oddest I’ve seen. First, Nick Skorich, an assistant coach in 1960, appears in the set, but Buck Shaw, the head coach, doesn’t. (Skorich took over as head coach in 1961.) Second, there are no quarterbacks, running backs, or receivers in the set! Hall of Famers Norm Van Brocklin and Tommy McDonald were both established starters in 1960, but neither is included. Finally, the Eagles had six Pro Bowlers in 1959 (Van Brocklin, McDonald, Jess Richardson, Marion Campbell, Bill Barnes, and Tom Brookshier), they were all still with the team in 1960, and not one of them appears in the set! It’s like the photographer was in a hurry, and he just grabbed the first eleven guys who showed up for practice.

(Speaking of Van Brocklin, this wasn’t the only set from which he was conspicuously absent. In 1958, after nine seasons and six Pro Bowls with the Rams, Van Brocklin was traded to the Eagles. He played three seasons for the Eagles, making the Pro Bowl in each of them, but he did not appear in any of the 1958-1960 Topps football sets. The only card I know of that shows him as an Eagle is his 1963 Stancraft playing card.)

As I’ve said in previous articles, one reason I like team sets is that they usually include players who never appeared on cards in mainstream issues. In this set, those players are Howard Keys and John Wittenborn, both offensive linemen. Keys was a rookie in 1960, and he played for the Eagles for four seasons. Wittenborn spent ten years in the NFL and AFL, with the 49ers, Eagles, and Oilers.

My favorite photo in the set is the one shown here, Jimmy Carr. Carr was a defensive back, but he could have been the drum major!

Oh, and incidentally, the Eagles won the NFL championship in 1960.

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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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Tom Brookshier, Eagles Defensive Back

January 31st, 2010  |  Published in Player Deaths

Tom Brookshier, defensive back for the Eagles in 1953 and from 1956 to 1961, died on January 29. Brookshier had 8 interceptions in his rookie season, and a total of 20 in his career. He made the Pro Bowl in 1959 and 1960, and he was a member of the Eagles’ 1960 championship team. The Eagles later retired his number. (The two-year gap in his career was time that he spent in the Air Force.)

After his playing career, Brookshier became a TV broadcaster. In the 1970s, he and Pat Summerall were CBS’s top broadcasting team, and they announced three Super Bowls together. This is how I remember Brookshier and Summerall, from watching lots of football on Sundays. I didn’t know that they had been players until I started collecting vintage cards.

Shown here is Brookshier’s rookie card, from the 1960 Topps set. He also appeared on a 1961 Topps card and on a 1962 Post Cereal card, though he did not play in 1962.

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Jack Zilly, Rams and Eagles End

December 20th, 2009  |  Published in Player Deaths

Jack Zilly, who played offensive end and defensive end for the Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles, died on December 18. In college, Zilly played on Notre Dame’s national championship teams of 1943 and 1946. In the intervening two years, he served in World War II. Before his rookie season with the Rams, Zilly played in the 1947 College All-Star game, scoring a touchdown in the All-Stars’ win over the Chicago Bears. He played for the Rams from 1947 to 1951, finished his career with the Eagles in 1952, and went on to coach at Montana State and Notre Dame.

Zilly is pictured here on his 1951 Bowman football card. I always liked this action shot, with the grass flying up behind him and the ball entering the picture in the upper right. Zilly also appeared on a 1950 Bowman card, and his obituary in the Los Angeles Times has a nice action photo of him with the Rams.

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Al Dorow, NFL, CFL, and AFL Quarterback

December 8th, 2009  |  Published in Player Deaths

Al Dorow, who played quarterback for the Washington Redskins, Philadelphia Eagles, New York Titans, Buffalo Bills, and three CFL teams, died on December 7. Dorow was the New York Titans’ starting quarterback when the AFL started play in 1960. (The Titans became the Jets in 1963.) There is a detailed article about Dorow’s career on the profootballresearchers.com web site.

Pictured here is Dorow’s rookie card, a 1955 Bowman. Over his career, he appeared on five NFL and AFL cards. He also appeared on one CFL card, in 1959. I don’t have Dorow’s CFL card, but there are a lot of them on eBay.

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