(Not At All) Strange Bru

I semi-recently (meaning within calendar year 2022) got a padded envelope full of goodness from Marc Brubaker (Twitter here, blog here) and as it’s been going with too many things in my life, I’m delinquent in properly showing off the cards and expressing my thanks.

I decided a while ago that I’m going to get a factory set of 2022 Topps, so I haven’t seen many of the inserts that come in 2022 Topps packs. This “Stars Of MLB” insert is pretty nice…. too bad Javy Báez has already moved on (and is batting below the Mendoza Line in Detroit, but that ain’t my problem)

The package included a bunch of 1990s Steelers, which were probably laying around waiting for someone like me to gleefully welcome them into his collection.  These two are from 1990 Score Football. Should anyone accuse me of being a bandwagon Steelers fan, I’ll point out that I remained faithful during the Bubby Brister era. The 1988 team with Bubby as the QB went 5-11, the fewest wins of my nearly 40 years as a Steelers fan (Jeez, I wish I hadn’t done the math on how long I’ve been following the Black & Gold)

In talking about Bubby I almost forgot to mention something I noticed while absent-mindedly staring at these cards: The border color fading to white and then doing a hard switch back to that same color is lifted straight from 1987 Fleer Baseball.  The main difference is that 1987 Fleer was just blue & white, while these are somewhat spectrum-y fading to white, and they change depending (I’m guessing) on the printing sheet they came off of.

A couple of 1991 Pro Set cards featuring favorites Rod Woodson and Tunch Ilkin. I have a black Rod Woodson replica jersey in my modest uniform wardrobe, but I’ll admit the main reason I got a Woodson jersey because I found one really cheap (not that I don’t love Woodson).

Gotta love the symmetry of this pair: #26 and #62, black jersey and white jersey, facing left and facing right

Woodson and Ilkin again, this time it’s their Pro Bowl cards from 1990 Pro Set. I haven’t acquired many football cards beyond about 2010, so I don’t know if an offensive tackle like Tunch Ilkin, All-Pro or not, would get a card these days. Maybe they do, I have no idea.  Why did I even bring it up?

There were a bunch of Steelers cards from 1990, 1998 and 1995, which is fine because I have a lot of Steeler needs.

The two on the bottom row are from 1995 Score, and even if I couldn’t tell from the front of the card, they look very much like something that would’ve come out in 1995.

And now we move towards the centerpieces of this package.

The package also included some cards for my Jim Wynn collection.  Wynn was the first Major Leaguer I ever “met”…  I was right next to him, but I was such a painfully shy kid that he handle the bulk of the interaction.  I did get his autograph, though.  Anyway…

Here’s Jim Wynn from 2001 Topps Archives, back when it was essentially a reprint set.  The 1964 card was Wynn’s rookie card, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Archives version is a little harder to find.

Next up is a custom version of Wynn’s 1968 Topps card. The original 1968 is a head shot with the cap blacked out, as was the case for many of the “Houston” cards of the day. This ‘re-do’ is much nicer than the original.

The last card I’ll feature is another custom, this one based on the design from 1962 Topps football.

For anyone who’s not familiar with 1962 Topps Football, here’s an original I’ve featured on the blog before

Unlike the 1968 re-do, this custom has a back! Something I can appreciate because I know that card backs are kind of a pain.

A very sweet pair of customs that I’m pleased to add to my collection!

Thank you so much for the cards, Marc!

Assorted Cards From My Box From COMC

I recently got a shipment from COMC that contained two years worth of my card buying. I’m trying to share them a few cards at a time.

I’ll start off with a 1996 Upper Deck “Olympicard” that I’d been chasing for a few years… it’s not a baseball card, but it’s baseball related. Can you guess why I bought this card of an Olympic synchronized swimmer?

Here’s the back of the card… pay particular attention to this athlete’s name…

If you guessed that Tracie Ruiz-Conforto is the mother of the Mets’ Michael Conforto, then you get an official Shlabotnik No-Prize. She got two Artistic Swimming Gold medals in the 1988 Los Angeles games, one for solo and one for duet. In the 1988 Seoul games, she got a solo Silver medal. Michael was born in 1993.

And, of course, Michael is a free agent this winter, which means that after a couple of years of searching for a reasonably-priced copy I could have finally picked up the card just in time for her son to no longer be a Met.

I got an “upgrade” to my 1967 Topps card of Larry Elliot. The original is on the left, the new card is on the right. Can you spot the difference?

A year or so ago I was going through my Mets binder and realized that the one copy of Elliot’s card that I had is one that’s autographed… or at least had been labeled as autographed by the dealer I bought it from. I can’t think of many scenarios which would lead to someone forging Larry Elliot’s signature.  Anyway, I figured I shouldn’t count the autographed card towards my Mets team set, so I bought this “upgrade”.

Another “upgrade” – with question marks definitely intended – is this 1973 Topps card of Bob Didier (with a cameo by the Mets’ Cleon Jones)

The reason I put “upgrade” in question marks is because I can’t find the original card… which is troubling mainly because I’d labeled the 1973 Topps set as complete a couple of years ago. At this point I’m thinking I may have misplaced it when I was re-organizing my binder from being in card # order to being sorted by team (which is always my preferred method).  Over this past weekend I did a quick inventory and all of the other cards are present and accounted for, so I’m not going to worry about it.

Next up is a 1965 Philadelphia Gum card of the Vikings’ Fred Cox. Fred holds the Vikings team records for points scored and field goals and had set a record in 1973 by scoring in 151 straight games, but that’s not why I bought this card. In fact, I had completely forgotten *why* I bought this card, I only remembered that the reason wasn’t related to his pro career.

After a quick web search I remembered that Fred had a tremendous effect on my youth as he is the inventor of the Nerf Football!  ALL HAIL FRED!!!!

I also noticed that COMC has his 1965, 1966 and 1967 Philadelphia Gum cards listed as “Pre-Rookie” and his 1968 Topps listed as his rookie card. I think that’s extremely questionable, as the three Philadelphia sets were nationally issued and licensed by the NFL. There’s no reason not to call his 1965 Philadelphia card as his rookie card, unless I’m missing something.

That’s it for now, as I mentioned there are more COMC acquisitions to come.

Because It Was There: A Pack of 2021 Panini NFL Five

I miss being able to wander into a store and buying packs of cards just to see what they look like. In the grand scheme of things these days, that’s a minor kvetch, but it’s still there. Target, of course, doesn’t carry anything MLB, NFL or NBA, and they never have anything else anyway. The Walmart and Walgreens near my house do carry some cards, but there’ never any when I’m there.

So last week I had a doctor’s appointment in another part of town, and this doctor’s office happens to be near a relatively small Walmart, so I went in to see what they had.

What they had was nearly an entire vending box of “NFL Five”, a name which meant ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to me, but I could tell from the wrapper that it is a collectible card game.

“What the hell”, I said, as I took it and a clearance pack of UD Hockey up to the self checkout.

Now as soon as I picked up the NFL Five pack, I could tell that the cards were on pretty thin cardstock. The wrapper says “9 cards”, but from the way it feels I would’ve guessed 4, maybe 5 cards.

Later that day I did some research on NFL Five and was surprised to find that this is the third season of this product. Shows how much I pay attention to football cards these days.

But the pack was there taunting me by… well, by being an unopened pack of a sports-related product. Maybe I’d pull one of my Steelers or get some trade bait for the couple of trading buddies I have who don’t mind getting cards of their favorite teams.

Of course, I also get a blog post for my $4… which was a bit pricier than I’d expected, but I admit I was basing that largely against Topps Match Attax soccer gaming cards.

OK, so let’s run through the pack quickly for anyone who hasn’t already closed the browser tab.

First card, Alec Ingold of the [pauses to make sure he gets it right] Las Vegas Raiders. It took me over a decade to get used to “St. Louis Rams”, and look where *that* got me.

Not bad looking, especially by collectible card game standards.

Here’s the back, should anyone be interested. All the card backs are the same, as it’s a game.

Baltimore Ravens? BOOOOOOO!  (At least they lost to Vegas last night in OT)

This is some sort of gameplay card. There’s a Panini video on how to play this game, but my eyes glazed over about a third of the way through it. The featured player appears to be Nick Chubb, running back for the Browns.

Daniel Jones, NY Giants quarterback. Again, not an exciting photo, but a nice photo… also nicely printed.

So it turns out I did get a Steeler… But it was in this blue shiny card which I *think* is a “Swirl-o-rama” parallel. OK, Panini, whatever you say… The card doesn’t identify the player, but I know it’s linebacker TJ Watt.

It doesn’t show up in the scan, but this is a shiny card. The shiny effect is pretty cool, it’d be nicer if it wasn’t all blue like that… it makes it look like Watt had been attacked by some Apple Bonkers (a quick Yellow Submarine reference for you fans of the movie).

“Today… Pittsburgh turns BLUE” (cue “March of the Meanies” from the Yellow Submarine soundtrack album)

Another gameplay card. I kind of like this one for some odd reason. I have no idea what stadium this is, though. 

Some poor football team collector is going to have to chase this card.

Ooh, another Giant. Don’t know James Bradberry, but I don’t watch a whole lot of the NFC. I’ll freely admit that I’m a fairly devoted Steelers fan, but I’m a sorry-ass NFL fan.

I like how orange this card of Melvin Gordon III is.

And the last card is Derwin James Jr. One of my neighbors likes the Chargers, maybe I’ll see if he’d want this…

And there you go. I wouldn’t buy another pack of this, but that’s mainly because I don’t collect football. It does seem like a nice enough set and if I were thinking of collecting a football set it’s something I’d consider. 326 cards, so it’s not huge… plus there are chase cards and parallels, but nothing crazy like a Patrick Mahomes II auto / relic / DNA sample.

A Different Kind Of “Unlicensed”: Fleer Action Football

So you might know that through the 1970s, Topps had a license with the individual football players but not with the NFL teams, which is why those sets have all of the logos removed via airbrush.


But did you know that in the 1970s and 1980s Fleer made football cards which *were* licensed by the NFL?

Ah, but there’s a catch…  Fleer was licensed by the NFL, but not by the NFL players… So while Topps featured the players but had to gloss over the teams, Fleer featured the teams and had to gloss over the players.

So their general ‘gambit’ was along these lines… They created cards like these, packaged them with team logo stickers and gum, prominently feature the NFL logo on the wrapper, usually include “Action” in the set name somewhere (NFL Action, NFL Teams In Action, NFL Football Action Photos, Live Action Football) and hoped that unsuspecting kids would plop down their allowance and not discover until it was too late that each card featured several players you could only identify if you were up on your uniform numbers.

Sure, there were stats on the back… but they were generally game stats or team stats.

I was reminded of these cards at a recent card show when I bought a few for my Steelers collection, and then later went and updated my football wantlists to include these justly maligned sets.

I mean, it sounds great to say that a card features Rocky Bleier, Terry Bradshaw and Franco Harris, but the reality is a little less than you might expect…

These new cards I got are from 1980 Fleer.  Here’s another one where the most easily identifiable player is #72, right guard Gerry Mullins

They’re kind of fun… and yet they’re not.  I held on to mine, but I can imagine a lot of kids flipping them, putting them in bike spokes and doing other things one does to unwanted trading cards.

As it turns out, I got two different cards of the same Super Bowl… Here’s the 1980 Fleer card for Super Bowl XIII between the Steelers and Cowboys… It appears that Bradshaw is looking for an open receiver.

And here’s the 1979 Fleer card of the same game.  Bradshaw’s still looking.

Just to prove that I did buy a couple of packs of these back in the day, here’s a wrapper from 1981 Fleer Football that I’ve saved for 40 years (damn, that makes me sound ancient… and like a hoarder).  I’ll point out that the left hand side (which would be the back of the pack before it’s opened) features the Eagles and Raiders who had faced off that January in Super Bowl XV.

And here’s another one from 1982 Fleer.  I don’t remember what the deal was with the “Solid Gold” stickers.  I don’t think they featured the Solid Gold Dancers (I think you’d have to be at least 40 years old to get that reference)

Don’t they look enticing?  All bright and colorful and NFL-y, but the pack contained only disappointment.  And gum.

Did anybody collect these back then?  Does anybody actively collect them now?

Living In A Land Of Make Believe

I was thinking about what I’ve been posting lately and how I wish I had some new cards to show off here… when it occurred to me that there are plenty of cards I’ve gotten at shows that I’ve never posted here… and if I really wanted to, I could say that they were new acquisitions and you wouldn’t have any way of knowing otherwise.

But I wouldn’t do that to you!  I’ll admit that they’re not new but show them anyway.

Would you believe I got this 2017 Topps Pro Debut Pete Alonso card for just 20 cents?

Of course, it helped that I acquired it in 2018.  It’s all in the timing, don’tcha know.  BTW, Alonso played 30 games for the Brooklyn Cyclones in 2016 after being drafted out of the University of Florida in the 2nd round.

Because of a childhood exposure to “The Great American Baseball Card Flipping, Trading and Bubble Gum Book”, I’ve long had an appreciation for Don Mossi cards.

1957 Topps and the original Yankee Stadium are among the things I gained an appreciation for later in life.  I’m not exactly collecting Don Mossi, but I’m also not not collecting Don Mossi.

So here’s a bit of trivia I learned yesterday… The first shutouts in Blue Jays and Mariners history were both thrown by pitchers who worked primarily as relievers and who already had earned a Save before throwing their shutout.  For the Blue Jays it was Pete Vukovich, and for the Mariners it was Dave Pagan.

The Jays and the M’s were the first baseball expansion teams I was exposed to, so I have this weird fondness for 1977 cards of those teams.  I can’t believe it took me until the 21st century to realize that 1977 Hostess cards also had those airbrushed caps.  In the defense of the airbrush artists, there’s no telling what they had to work off when trying to duplicate a cap that nobody had worn on the field.

This 1984 Donruss card of Steve Garvey came out of a dime box. It doesn’t fit in any defined part of my collection, but…. it’s an 84D Garvey for 10 cents!!!  I just couldn’t leave it behind.

My first year of collecting was 1974 and Danny Murtaugh was the first Pittsburgh Pirates manager I was aware of.  I didn’t know at the time that he was in his fourth stint managing the team and in his first season as a manager his Pirates would play against those long, long lost teams I heard about from my parents’ generation, the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants.

Even now that I know better, it still seems terribly odd to see Danny Murtaugh on a 1960 Topps card.  Murtaugh was in his early 40s in this shot.

At one point… back when I had goals that I tried to achieve… I had an idea of getting one card from each vintage Topps basketball set. Like much of my collecting ideas, this is on hold while I reorganize and reassess, but I do have this 1969-70 Topps “tall-boy” card of Dick Barnett with his jersey on backwards, as was often done when being photographed for Topps sets.

Dick Barnett won two championships with the Knicks.  Me, I’m old enough to remember when the Knicks won championships.

Here’s the back, for anyone who isn’t familiar with this set…

I became a Steelers fan in college in the early 1980s and all I knew about the team’s history prior to the dynasty of the 1970s was that they generally sucked… an opinion that wasn’t entirely true or fair.  They were doormats for much of their history, but they had their seasons and their players.  John Henry Johnson played six years with the Black and Gold, was the first Steeler to rush for 1,000 yards in a season, and is in the Pro Football HOF.

Here’s something I didn’t know… There are three Steelers who wore #35 and are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame… but the Steelers have not retired #35.  Aside from John Henry Johnson there’s also “Bullet Bill” Dudley (who played for the Steelers in 1942, 1945 and 1946) and Walt Kiesling (1937-38).

OK, I guess I’ve shown you enough from my card show in the Land of Make Believe…

George Blanda Was SOOOOOOOOO Old…

GENE RAYBURN: George Blanda was SOOOOOO old…

MATCH GAME STUDIO AUDIENCE: HOW OLD WAS HE?

GENE RAYBURN:  …He was so old, that when he first played football, the cheerleaders were [blank] !

When I was a kid back in 1975, nobody on my baseball and football cards seemed older to me than George Blanda… who, somehow, was an active quarterback and kicker at the same time he was terribly old.

…Except maybe Reds manager Sparky Anderson, who was also terribly, terribly old in my preteen eyes.

I can’t remember what it was that got me wondering this, but I recently pondered the age-old old-age question… Just who was older, Blanda or Anderson?

Towards the end of 1975, as baseball season transitioned to football season…

Sparky Anderson was 41 years old (born February 22, 1934)

…while George Blanda was 48 years old (born September 17, 1927).

And there you have it, the grey-haired active NFL player was older than the white-haired MLB manager.

Full disclosure… right now, in 2020, I am older than either of these “very old” gentlemen were in 1975.  Furthermore, someone who remembers what it’s like to be 48 years old, I think of George Blanda playing in the NFL and I say “DAAAAAAAYAMN!!!!”

(For anyone who is wondering about the Gene Rayburn custom, that one dates back to 2013 when I was actively poking fun at A&G with my “Simon & Gintfunkel” customs.)

Before we leave off, I invite everyone to leave your answer to the “Match Game question” in the comments.  I have one in mind, but I’ll hold off for now to let you think up your own.

Once again… George Blanda was so old, that when he first played football, the cheerleaders were [blank] !

First Custom Cards In A While

After an unintentional break, I’ve been back to doing customs, and I’ve shared a couple of them out on Twitter (@Shlabotnik_Rpt) but it’s been a while since I shared them on the blog… and so…

First, let’s roll through a few “Hot Stove” customs based on the mid-1960’s Bazooka design.

First off, here’s the Diamondbacks’ new ace Madison Bumgarner.  I borrowed the photo from the D-Backs’ social media, but swapped out the background.

It looks weird to see MadBum in a different uniform, but that’s true of certain players every spring.

Recently the Red Sox said “Oh, hey, pitchers and catchers are getting ready to report to Spring Training… maybe we should get a manager?”

Dellin Betances signed with the Mets a while ago, but I like this picture too much not to use it.

Back when Joe Girardi was introduced in a press conference, he put on a Phillies jersey but never put on a cap… much to my dismay and annoyance, so I went and photoshopped an older photo.

A little over a week ago, Twitter account @TheOldTowneTeam tweeted an image of the bottom of a 1974 Topps Traded card and said “Someone needs to come up with a Mookie Traded card.

I don’t need much of an excuse to make 1974 customs, so I hauled out my template, updated it for Traded cards, and came up with this:

Pretty simple stuff, all I needed to do to the photo was change the color of Mookie’s undershirt.

That left me somewhat unfulfilled… I wanted to do something with fake airbrushing and I was someone intrigued by the Twins getting starting pitcher Kenta Maeda, so a week later I did the following:

I’m not sure I’ll do more of these… but I’m not sure I won’t.

I’m going to wrap up today with something that, a few months ago, I never thought I’d do… I’ve made an XFL custom card.  Y’see, I like Dallas Renegades’ quarterback Landry Jones from his time with the Steelers, and when I heard that he was the first player signed for the new version of the XFL, well it most definitely caught my attention.

I don’t know why Spring football draws so many haters.  Yes, history is littered with failed Spring leagues (although one could argue that the USFL was murdered… or maybe it was criminally-negligent homicide), and we had a league that failed just last Spring… but is it such a bad thing to give overlooked players a venue to prove their abilities?  I don’t know, I don’t expect to watch a whole lot of the XFL, but I don’t get the venom…

…Except that there are a lot of people out there who are just looking for people, places and things to spit venom at.

110 Yard Line: Vintage Topps Canadian Football League Cards

I was at this show a few weeks ago, and one dealer blew me away by having Canadian Football League cards from the 1960’s. Although I don’t follow the CFL, I’ve had a soft spot for the league since the NFL strike of 1982, when American TV networks showed CFL games to fill the time slots. With the 110-yard field and only 3 downs, the league sucked me in after a short time. I’m still kind of disappointed that the mid-1990’s CFL expansion into the US didn’t work out…. and by the way, the Baltimore Stallions got a raw deal.

We’ll start with this 1960 Topps CFL card of the Montreal Allouettes’ Ed Learn.  According to Wikipedia, Learn was a defensive back/punt returner who played 12 years in the CFL.

When I was going through the cards at the show, I picked out these cards based solely on visual appeal, since I didn’t know any of the players and have no real team loyalty.  This is a nice design, and the halftone action shot is like a precursor to 1968-69 Topps Hockey.  I love the old school helmet that Ed is wearing.

Here’s the back, with a drawing added by some long-forgotten artist. I’ve seen some interesting things added to cards with a ballpoint pen, but this is one of the more intriguing additions.

Next up, 1961 Topps CFL; I really like this look, it reminds me of the Beatles cards which would come a couple of years later. If you can’t read the script at the bottom, it says “Tobin Rote, Argonauts”.  Tobin Rote, cousin of Kyle Rote, was a quarterback for the Packers and Lions in the 1950’s, with the Toronto Argonauts for 3 seasons, and then would move to the AFL with the Chargers and Broncos.

The card back is pretty basic and has one of those “rub a coin over the blank space” magic photo thingies.

Jumping ahead to 1963, here’s John Barrow of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.  John Barrow was an offensive and defensive lineman, played in nine Grey Cup games (the CFL championship) and won four of those.  He’s in the CFL Hall Of Fame and in 2006 was named one of the 50 top CFL players of all time.

Man, I just love that staged running shot.  “We can rebuild him… make him better, faster, stronger…”

This card back has one of those things where you hold red cellophane over the image to get your answer to the question “Who is the new coach of the Tiger-Cats?”… the question on everybody’s lips.

Finally, here’s a card from 1964 Topps CFL.  Joe Poirier won three Grey Cups and was a regular all-star in his twelve seasons in the CFL.

My eye was drawn to that Ottawa Rough Riders logo, although it frankly looks more like it could be the logo for a brand a regional bakery.  I imagine that “OFC” stands for Ottawa Football Club, but I wasn’t able to verify.

Another secret message back, only I have no idea how this one works.

Since I’m sharing CFL cards, I may as well reflect back on some of the ones I’d featured here before.

First off, there’s the 1965 Topps CFL set; this was the first CFL card that swept me off my feet, I really like this design; it’s so colorful and 1960’s without being a riff on anything else from that time.

I liked the set so much that four years ago I used the design for some customs

This 1972 O-Pee-Chee set is just another version of the 1972 Topps NFL set, but 1972 Topps didn’t have a player named Basil who looks like he could be playing with the Moody Blues when he wasn’t playing with the Calgary Stampeders.

Last up is this 1963 Post Cereal CFL card, which I just wanted to get because it’s an oddball card from our neighbors to the North, and what’s not to like about that?

Canadian Football League cards are never going to be a major part of my collection, but at some point I would like to fill in some of the gaps in my type collection.

Dipping Into My Backlog

I had a post planned for today, but while giving it what I thought was a last-minute review I realized that there was a significant section where the text was literally “blah blah blah”… that’s my typical placeholder for text, my Lorem Ipsum.

I knew that if I pushed that post back to tomorrow I’d be in the same situation because I have too much going on after work tonight to sit down and finish a post. And so, I’m pulling from a series of “mini-posts” that I keep on hand for emergencies… Like this one.


I recently stumbled across a mildly interesting bit of information, and hopefully you’ll find it mildly interesting as well… There have been three players with the surname of “Nettles” in Major League Baseball. Your first thought is probably of 6-time All-Star Graig Nettles, or maybe his brother Jim who played in the Majors, AAA, Japan and Mexico from the late 1960’s to the early 1980’s.

And then there’s Morris Nettles, who played two years for the Angels before being included in a trade to the White Sox, which resulted in this 1976 Topps Traded card.

Interestingly enough, Nettles never actually played for the White Sox or any other Major League team after 1975. He would spend 1976 in AAA with the Iowa Oaks and the Toledo Mud Hens, and then would spend several more years in the Mexican League. Although Nettles had several cards in 1976 (including O-Pee-Chee and SSPC), this would be his last.


While some of the Topps online exclusive cards are pretty hideous – especially when they sweat and strain and grunt and groan to shoehorn a baseball theme into a completely unrelated vintage non-sport design – they do come up with some nice designs that seem to just be burned off online. This card is from 2017 On Demand, and I’m telling you now I’d rather see this come out of a wax pack than most of what’s been previewed for 2020.


Not long ago I was at a semi-local shop that, these days, specializes in gaming cards, but they still have plenty of sports cards. The owner is a nice guy, so when I go in there for supplies (because they carry plastic sheets beyond the usual 9 pockets), I try to buy something else. In my last trip, part of “something else” was this 1973 Topps Fran Tarkenton card.

I’d recently decided that I should make at least a minor effort to collect Tarkenton, given how he was one of my favorite football players (relatively speaking, anyway) when I was a kid. Truth be told, I can’t remember exactly why he was a favorite; it could have something to do with the fact that I owned his 1974 card that listed him as “ALL-PRO” and that made some sort of impact on me.

This card gives me a run from 1973 to 1975, with a few scattered cards before and after.


And that’s all I’ve got for today. The next post, which should be out here in two days, will more than make up for it in the amount of content.

PHIL! A! DELPHIA! FOOTBALL! I Lo-ho-ho-o-o-o-ove You!

Yes, I do!

So there’s this local card show I bend over backwards to support. This is because, for over a decade, we in Shlabotsylvania didn’t have a show within a 90 minute drive… So now that we’ve got a show that actually *comes back* on a regular basis, I get a little free with my spending…  Relatively speaking, of course, I’m still a cheapskate. I’ve been thinking of somewhat changing my cheapskate tendencies but that’s a topic for an upcoming post.

So anyway, while going through a box at this show I ran across a team bag of eight well-loved cards from 1964 Philadelphia Gum Football. The 1960’s Philadelphia sets have become a recent source of fascination for me, both for their simple but colorful designs and for the non-Topps-ness of the cards. Even though I have no illusions of collecting the sets, I couldn’t resist dropping a couple of bucks on this group.

Of the cards I was looking for from this set, one target had nothing to do with whose card it was, but rather whether there was a Cadillac in the background…

Most of the Cleveland Browns photos in this set have this Cadillac in the background, and the common wisdom is that it’s HOF running back Jim Brown’s Caddy. This background is so much a part of this set’s character that I felt like I had to have one represented in my Football binder.

1964 Philadelphia cards are like 1965 Topps baseball cards in that they the card backs are blue with a prominently-featured cartoon which makes up a visual clue for a trivia question.

Since I don’t want you to strain yourselves in trying to read the upside-down answer, here, as a public service, is the answer to the question “What is John Morrow’s hobby?”

John Morrow was a 2-time Pro Bowler and won a championship with those 1964 Cleveland Browns.

My second-favorite card from the pack is this card of L.A. Rams tackle Frank Varrichione.  These Rams cards are visually appealing with the abundance of primary colors

But I also like the cartoon:

So why was Frank Varrichione called “Faintin’ Frank” at college?

…Is this implying that Frank faked an injury to get a timeout?  Seems like an odd thing to promote on a card.

Frank Varrichione played for the Rams and Steelers, went to Notre Dame, and played in five Pro Bowls.

Final card, this one isn’t visually stimulating on the front…

…But I liked the cartoon…

Gosh, I can’t even guess at the answer to the question of the other sport Lonnie Sanders played in college… if only I had some sort of hint…

Oh, Basketball!!!!  Gosh, I should’ve known that.

The card lists Sanders as a halfback, but Pro Football Reference has him as a cornerback.  In 1965 he had four interceptions which he re turned for a combined 121 yards… but none for a touchdown.

One more thing about the cartoons… I find it interesting that the cartoon version of most players features their actual uniform number, and that the Lonnie Sanders cartoon character has dark skin.  Of course, it helps that the cartoons are large enough that the cartoonist could work in some shading.


When this set came out in the United States, a 17-year-old English musician called Reg Dwight was playing in a band called Bluesology.  Ten years later he would go on to have a bit of success, and would write a song about Billie Jean King’s team in the fledgling World Team Tennis league, the Philadelphia Freedoms.  According to Wikipedia, the song didn’t get released until 1975, after the WTT franchise had moved to Boston.