Four Steelers From 1964 Philadelphia Football

In observance of the start of the NFL season, I decided to share four recently-acquired Steelers cards from the 1964 Philadelphia Gum NFL set. I can’t tell you much about the four-year run of Philadelphia as the official trading card of the NFL, other than that I really like the “less is more” design used for each of the four years, and I particularly like the large cartoons on the back of the 1964 cards… so I’m featuring the fronts and the backs of today’s cards.

One thing I find interesting about the cartoons is that even though the drawings are not true caricatures, the “cartoon players” are in Steelers uniforms and wearing the number worn by the featured player.

Lou Michaels was a kicker AND a defensive lineman for the Steelers.  Gotta love that.  CommishBob might not love Lou Michaels because he – Lou, not Bob – missed two field goals in the Colts’ loss to the Jets in Super Bowl III.

Myron Pottios played for the Steelers, Rams & Redskins and was named to three Pro Bowls.

Gary Ballman’s 2949 receiving yards as a Steeler still ranks 17th on the all-time Steeler list (above Dwight Stone, Franco Harris and Antwaan Randle El, among others)

Mike Sandusky was an All-American in both Football and Wrestling.  He played 9 years for the Steelers and made one Pro Bowl.

I”m not really sure what’s going on in this cartoon…  Is that supposed to be a military draft physical? What’s with the woman? Is she a nurse? I feel like I’m missing some sort of cultural shorthand here… or that they changed the trivia question after the cartoonist was done.


Too Late For The Super Bowl: Cool Vintage Football Cards

Being on time for the Super Bowl would’ve required planning and forethought. I’m sure somebody, at some point, has made a comment about how I will be late to my own funeral. Right now, I’m amusing myself with the thought of one of my friends receiving a text from me at my wake:   “Sorry, got caught at work, be there in 10”.

Anyway, I’ve picked up some really nice vintage football cards over the past year or so, and I never get around to sharing them. Now’s as good a time as any to start.

OK, maybe  *before* the Super Bowl would’ve been as good a time as any.

…Or maybe I’m easing football fans into a long offseason. I’ll go with that one.

One of the things I love about 1960’s football is that it’s generally not Topps, which means they have a certain cachet to them, a slightly-exotic je ne sais quoi.

I first saw this card just over a year ago over at The Five Tool Collector. I still love this card, and this is my first 1961 Fleer Football card.
1961 Fleer Football John Olszewski
One tiny little detail I find fascinating is that the top third of the Redskins logo is… “transparent” for lack of a better word. Inside the gold circle at the top of the logo, instead of white background you can see a little glimpse of the photo “underneath”. The custom nerd in me finds that really interesting.

Because I scanned it, here’s the back which is not Topps:
1961 Fleer Football John Olszewski back

When I bought this next card, which is from the 1964 Philadelphia set, the Rams moving back to L.A. was just a rumor.  I don’t really care much about the Rams and I’d never heard of Danny Villanueva before, but this card just has such a fantastic combinations of colors that I couldn’t walk away from it.
1964 Philadelphia Danny Villanueva
Primary Colors ‘R’ Us.  Just fantastic stuff.

…but just because I hadn’t heard of Danny Villanueva before doesn’t mean his story isn’t interesting.  During his football career, he started to work as a sportscaster at a small TV station.  That lead to being the news director at the station, then president, then he bought a stake in other TV stations and that was the start of a network that would become Univision.

…You never know what you’re going to learn when you research these cards…

Once upon a time the New York Giants played football at Yankee Stadium.  This is going back so far that this card-carrying AARP member — I’m just barely eligible, but I value the discounts more than my pride… umm…Where was I?  Oh, yeah, my point was that this 50-year-old guy doesn’t remember the Giants playing in the Bronx.  I didn’t really take much notice of football until 1975, and the Giants moved out of original Yankee stadium after 1973.  Even though I regard the Yankees with the utmost of disdain, I love cards that feature the original House That Ruth Built… even – and sometimes especially – when they’re football cards.
1965 Philadelphia Ernie Wheelwright
Aww, man I love this card!  Judging by the “301 FT” on the wall, I *think* Ernie is standing in left field;  I’m sure Commish Bob or someone else who’s been there could set me straight.

BTW, that card is from 1965 Philadelphia.

I mentioned before that 1960’s football is often not Topps… but the 1960’s were not exclusively un-Topps-ical. Here’s an addition to my football “type collection”, a 1961 Topps card of Tom “The Bomb” Tracy.
1961 Topps Football Tom Tracy
The Steelers of 1961 were perennial doormats and had been to the playoffs just once in their 27-years-at-the-time history. They wore gold helmets which did not yet have the famous logo (that would come in 1962). Oh, and the one playoff game? It came in 1947 when they tied with the Eagles for first place in the East. In the playoff to decide who got to play the Chicago Cardinals, the Eagles won 21-0. The Steelers’ second playoff game would come in 1972, the franchise’s 40th season. The Steelers beat the Raiders and then lost to eventual-champions Miami.

I like my vintage football cards like I like my hamburgers:  Cheap and Griese!
1972 Topps Bob Griese
I liked Bob Griese when I was a kid, and while I’m not a Griese collector I’ll pick up cheap cards when I run across them.

I really like the 1972 Topps Football design, and since there’s nothing uniquely football-y about it, I might have to adapt it for custom baseball use.

OK, that’s it for now.  I know not everybody is interested in football cards, so I’ll be back with more vintage football after you’ve had time to decompress.