Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Ice Bowl: Greatest Game Ever?

Topps, Pliladelphia Gum Cards, RetroCards, custom cards that never were

The much fabled Ice Bowl (official name: 1967 NFL Championship Game) has taken on such legendary status that has been called the NFL's greatest game. Two teams battling in the most extreme of elements is what football is supposed to be about – not replay, not "touching" the passer, and not end zone celebrations with or without props.  Not much need be said about the game, but this RetroCard set tells a chronological story in words and pictures.  Featured heavily in this set is the fan's contribution and their resilience in –40˚F wind chills. Few people left and when the gun sounded at the end of regulation, they tore down the goal posts!  That's hard core.

The design of this set is a knock off of the 1964-1967 Philadelphia Gum cards that produced NFL cards for a short time in the 60s.  RetroCards is calling this set "1968 Philly Action," and is part of a series of team sets that will also be released in this design.

Players featured included Bart Starr, Boyd Dowler, Chuck Mercein, Travis Williams, Vince Lombardi, Jerry Kramer, Don Meredith, Danny Villanueva, Lance Rentzel, Dan Reeves, Bob Lilly, Lee Roy Jordan, George Andrie, Tom Landry, and of course, the fans.  Order your set here.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Rhome If You Want To: Jerry Rhome

Topps 1965 1966 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 football cards

Jerry Rhome tore up college football at Tulsa with an offense that had did something no other team – college or pro – had dared to do.  That was pass the ball ALL THE TIME.  If you talk to Jerry Rhome, he has no problem discussing how Tulsa revolutionized the passing game.  He ought to know.  As a senior he passed for 2,870 yards and threw for 32 touchdowns (versus only 4 interceptions), narrowly losing the Heisman Trophy to Notre Dame’s John Huarte.  With numbers like that, he seemed destined for the passing-crazy AFL, but he wound up a Dallas Cowboy.

He was drafted in 1964 as a future pick by both the Cowboys and the AFL’s New York Jets.  Signing with the established league, he backed up Don Meredith with another young quarterback, Craig Morton.  Though he only started one game for the Cowboys during his time there (1965-1968), he felt that coach Tom Landry gave him a legitimate chance at becoming a starter.  Once Roger Staubach arrived permanently in 1969, Rhome asked to be traded. He was dealt to the Cleveland Browns where he backed up Bill Nelsen in 1969.  His time in Cleveland may be most notable for the information he provided the Brown on the Cowboys offensive tendencies, resulting in a whomping 38–14 win in the 1969 Conference Championship game. 

By 1970, the Houston Oilers traded for him but he only played there one year before the Oilers went with a youth movement in rookies Dan Pastorini and Lynn Dickey. He played for the Los Angeles Rams in 1971 and then in the Canadian Football League in 1972 for the Montreal Alouettes before calling it a career.  After retirement, he went back to Tulsa and became an assistant coach before reappearing in the NFL as a coach with the Seattle Seahawks and the Washington Redskins during their Super Bowl XXII win.  He was inducted into the College Football Hall Of Fame in 1988.  RetroCards has designed several cards for this college great.  Coming soon!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

1961 Cowboys: Building Talent, Building Character

Topps Dallas Cowboys football cards 1961

After going winless in their inaugural season, the Cowboys could only go in one direction.  1961 saw them get off to a quick start by going 3-1(beating the new Vikings and the lousy Steelers) before the league caught up with them.  Their 4–9–1 finish was an improvement and some stars began to develop, namely Don Perkins and Frank Clarke on offense and Bob Lilly and Don Bishop on defense.  Tom Landry was installing the flex defense but it would take some time before the players bought into it – let alone understand it!

RetroCards designed 18 new Cowboy cards that supplement the beautiful 1961 Fleer set which featured both NFL and AFL players.  Players include: Tom Landry, Tom Braatz, Jim Doran, Don Healy, Nate Borden, Bill Herchman, Frank Clarke, Ken Frost, Don Bishop, Glynn Gregory, Bob Lilly, Amos Marsh, Dick Bielski, Jack Patera, John Houser, Dick Moegle, Don Perkins, and Gene Babb.  Get yours here.

Friday, December 2, 2016

1978 Cowboys: Super Bowl XII Winners

Topps 1978 Dallas Cowboys fantasy cards

By trading for Seattle's first round pick, the Cowboys added the final piece to their Super Bowl puzzle.  Tony Dorsett easily took the 1977 Rookie of the Year honors as the Cowboys cruised to their second Championship on a finesse offense and the leagues best defense.  Roger Staubach lead an offense that boasted a wealth of riches in Dorsett, All-Pros Drew Pearson and Billy Joe Dupree, plus important role players such as Preston Pearson, Pat Donovan, Golden Richards, and Robert Newhouse.  On defense, they were even better with the most devastating pass rushers in Harvey Martin (Defensive Player Of the Year), Randy White, Thomas Henderson, Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Charlie Waters, and Cliff Harris.

RetroCards 1978 Cowboys set focuses on the more important role players that gave the Cowboys the Championship over the Denver Broncos.  Players added to the 1978 base set are: Tony Hill, Benny Barnes, Bob Breunig, Aaron Kyle, Randy Hughes, Larry Cole, Rayfield Wright, Jethro Pugh, D.D. Lewis, Bruce Huther, Glenn Carano, and Mike Hegman.  Highlight cards feature a Tony Dorsett Rookie of the Year Highlight, Doomsday Defense, 3 Super Bowl Highlights, plus NFL sack leaders card.  Order yours here!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Hall Of Fame Hopeful: Ken Riley

Topps 1972, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1984

At Florida A&M, Ken Riley was a quarterback who was not just a gifted athlete, but an exceptional student, earning his team’s scholastic award and a Rhodes Scholar Candidacy.  After being drafted in 1969 by the one-year old Cincinnati Bengals, coach Paul Brown had Riley switch to cornerback during his first training camp.  Riley became a fixture as the starting cornerback for the next 15 years.

He had a busy rookie year starting at right cornerback, returning kickoffs and even caught two passes on offense.  Nicknamed “the rattler,” Riley quickly became one of the best corners in the NFL but there was someone getting more attention than him – his teammate Lemar Parrish, who played at the left cornerback position. Though Riley was named to various All-Pro teams between 1975 and 1983, to my surprise (and horror) Riley never played in the Pro Bowl.  From 1970 though 1977, Parrish made the Pro Bowl six times though Riley out performed him by a wide margin based on interceptions (36 to 25).  The most glaring Pro Bowl emission was 1976 where Riley led the AFC with nine interceptions while Parrish only had two.  It’s usually a given that the Conference interception leader is named to the Pro Bowl but the AFC sent Parrish over Riley.  Parrish was a fine corner and excellent punt returner and was deserving of Pro Bowl recognition but sending two corners from the same team in the era of the 70s almost never happened.

This Pro Bowl issue seems to be the sticking point with the Pro Football Hall of Fame committee.  Let’s face it, Cincinnati doesn’t get much respect. Bengal quarterback Ken Anderson faces the same problem.

Rick “Goose,” Gossellin of the Dallas Morning News, who is on the committee of Hall of Fame committee, has made an excellent case for Riley’s inclusion in the Hall (read that article here).  He quotes Riley, “Lemar and I were like Willie Mays and Hank Aaron,” Riley said. “Willie Mays was the flashy one. That was Lemar. But I was the one getting all the interceptions.” 

Samuel G. Freedman’s New York Times article from August, 2013 quotes the Steelers John Stallworth as in support of Riley’s value and worthiness.  Chris Collinsworth is even a bigger advocate of Riley, who taught Collinsworth more than anyone he ever played against.

In 1983 at the age of 36, Riley intercepted eight passes – two for touchdowns – and was named Sporting News  1st Team All-Pro.  But still no Pro Bowl.  He retired with 65 career interceptions, 4th on the all-time list and is the second place cornerback behind Dick “Night Train” Lane.  There is still time for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Committee to get it right while Mr. Riley is still with us.  I hope they do.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Playoff Bowl: A Post Season Exhibition

Topps, philadelphia gum cards, Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions, St. Louis Cardinals, Cleveland Browns, Minnesota Vikings

If coming in second place makes you the first place loser, what moniker would be given to the team that finishes in third? Well, for ten seasons of NFL football from 1960 to 1969, that moniker was called “the winner of the Playoff Bowl.”

Officially named the Bert Bell Benefit Bowl after a league commissioner who suffered a fatal heart attack in 1959, the Playoff Bowl was played the week after the NFL Championship game (except for the 1969 game, which took place the day before) at the Orange Bowl in Miami. The participants were the second-place teams of the NFL’s Eastern and Western conferences.

The Playoff Bowl gave the fans another dose of playoff action and raised over a million dollars for the Bert Bell players' pension fund.  Another motive for holding this game was to compete for television ratings against the new American Football League.  Having another dose of NFL players on television during playoff time generated revenue and gave a gentle reminder to all football fans that the NFL had established stars with established teams.  The Playoff Bowl, given its meaninglessness, drew several critics.  The most vocal critic was Hall of Fame coach Vince Lombardi, who referred to it as "the Shit Bowl" and called it "a losers' bowl for losers." Lombardi went on to say the Playoff Bowl was “a hinky-dink football game, held in a hinky-dink town, played by hinky-dink players. That's all second place is – hinky dink."  Lombardi forgot to refer to himself as the hinky-dink coach who won the Playoff Bowl over the Browns after the 1963 season.  Lombardi lost the game after the 1964 season giving his Packers sole possession of fourth place. 

Even those who came out on the winning side had their complaints. Roger Brown, who won all five Playoff Bowls he played in, called his participation “pitiful.”   Other players appreciated the opportunity to compete against another solid team and the extra money earned from playing in the game always was welcomed.

In 1970, when the merger with the AFL was complete, the league decided to discontinue the Playoff Bowl. Further distancing itself from the “losers' bowl for losers” (and also the pensions of retired players), the NFL only recognizes the Playoff Bowl as an exhibition game—making the official title of third place nothing more than "best case scenario" for the New York Jets.

All-Pro quarterback Frank Ryan of the Browns was asked if teammates reminisce about it when they get together.  “It never comes up,” said Ryan.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

1968 Packers: Lombardi's Last Hurrah

Topps football cards, custom cards that never were Green Bay Packers Super Bowl II

The Super Bowl victory agains the Raiders in January 1968 marked Vince Lombardi's final game coaching the Packers.  Though he maintain his General Manager role in 1968, he wouldn't coach again until the 1969 season with the Redskins when he took the head coach and GM role.  But that only lasted one season as anaplastic carcinoma became terminal and he died a year later.  Packer fans hold that final Lombardi year close to their hearts.

The 1968 Topps design gave the 1967 Super Bowl participants their own horizontal design with illustrated artwork as the background.  1968 was the first year that the NFL and AFL players were combined in the same Topps set and split 219 between 26 teams.  That left very few players per team and consequently, many popular players didn't make the cut in this set.

RetroCards fills in many Packer gaps with this 22-card set featuring Hall Of Famers Willie Wood, Henry Jordan, Willie Davis, Forrest Gregg, Dave Robinson, coach Vince Lombardi.  Other overlooked players are Travis Williams, Tom Brown, Ron Kostelnik, Bob Long, Jerry Kramer, Don Horn, Fuzzy Thurston, Don Chandler, Lee Roy Caffey, Bucky Pope, Chuck Mercein, Bob Skoronski, Lionel Aldridge, plus three post season cards featuring the 1967 Packer playoff appearances.  Coming Soon!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

1971 Bears: Windy City Blues

Topps football cards 1971, fantasy cards

The Bears improved from their 1969 1-13 season to go 6-8 in 1970 - a record that probably would have been better had Gale Sayers not gone down in the first game with a season ending injury.  The recent death of Brian Piccolo to cancer still loomed over the team and Bobby Douglass' brilliant first game as a starter ended with a broken ankle, ending his season and the Bears hopes at a winning record.

In 1971 the quarterback position was shaky as usual and the Bears rotated Bobby Douglass, Jack Concannon, and Kent Nix who combined for 28 interceptions to only 11 touchdowns. Signing washed up ex-Packers like Elijah Pitts, Lee Roy Caffey, and Jim Grabowski did absolutely nothing and with Sayers still useless, the Bears turned to backs Don Shy and Cyril Pinder who responded with a productive performance. The defense was solid with Dick Butkus leading the way and the offense had its bright moments with young receivers George Farmer and Dick Gordon, the later of which, miraculously made the Pro Bowl.

RetroCards is proud to focus not on just the championship years of certain teams, but also of the lean years when real fans loved still gave their love, support, and cheers.  This 18-card set features: Jim Cadile, Wayne Moss, Randy Jackson, Glen Holloway, Willie Holman, George Seals, Rich Coady, Joe Moore, George Farmer, Jimmy Gunn, Bob Wallace, Garry Lyle, Linzy Cole, Ross Brupbacher, Don Shy, Joe Taylor, Bennie McRae, and Bill Staley.  Get yours here!

Friday, October 28, 2016

Anthony Davis: The Star No One Wanted

Topps 1975, 1976, 1978, 1979, 1983 Southern California Sun, Toronto Argonauts, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Los Angeles Rams, Los Angeles Express

Anthony Davis is remembered for his spectacular college football career at USC and for an unfulfilled pro career that spanned four separate leagues.  He led the USC Trojans in rushing, scoring, and kick returns for three straight seasons (1972-1974) but he is most remembered for scoring 11 touchdowns in 3 games vs. Notre Dame.  He finished off his final season with an outstanding performance vs. Notre Dame where the Trojans were down 24–0 and Davis scored four touchdowns to win 55–24. Unfortunately for him, the Heisman Trophy ballots were due prior to the victory over Notre Dame and he consequently finished second to Archie Griffin in the voting.  After this small injustice, Heisman Trophy balloting would take place after all regular season games had been played.  He was also a key member of the USC’s 1972, 1973 and 1974 College World Series.  With two football championships, he was a part of five college championship teams.

After his senior season, Davis was drafted by both the New York Jets and by the Minnesota Twins.  Wanting to play for the Rams, Davis and the Jets could not agree on a contract.  The rap on Davis was that he was too small to play in the NFL, which was why he slipped to the second round in the NFL draft.  He also rejected the Twins, not believing they could come close to his salary demands. The WFL made a strong run for him and offered him a $1.7 million contract with a $200,000 bonus.  He couldn’t turn it down and he delivered the goods.

Davis had a huge season with the Southern California Sun rushing for 1,200 yards and scoring 16 touchdowns in only 12 games.  The Sun, with the surging play of Davis and veteran leadership of Daryl Lamonica, Don Shy, Bill Kramer, and Dave Roller looked like one of the toughest team in the league when the WFL folded midway through the 1975 season.

Out of a job and the failed Jets negotiation fresh in his mind, Davis avoided the NFL and began to talk to the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL.  He signed with the Argos, becoming the CFL’s first “million dollar man.”  The CFL was not a good fit as Davis’ ego clashed with coach Russ Jackson.  After rushing 104 times for 408 yards and scoring four touchdowns, he left the CFL to try out the NFL.  Having selected him in the expansion draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had one thing go their way when Dave became available.  Unfortunately, his time there was not productive as he lasted only one season, rushing for a measly 297 yards with one touchdown.  Short stints with the Oilers and Rams put a temporary cap on his pro career. 

In 1983, he signed with the new United States Football League with the LA Express and somewhat of a player-coach, and helped to promote the new league.  Though he made little impact, his time in the USFL made him the only player to have played professionally in four football leagues. He wound up as a real estate developer after acting in several films including Two Minute Warning with Charlton Heston, Loose Shoes with Bill Murray plus TV programs Roots, Buck Rogers In the 25th Century, and Hotel, among others.  RetroCards honors Anthony Davis with several custom cards that never were.  Get yours here!

Friday, October 21, 2016

1965 Cowboys Become Tallboys

Topps, Dallas Cowboys, NFL design, Tallboys

A great football card design from the sixties is the 1965 Tallboy design made only for AFL players.  In this RetroCards set, the NFL is represented by the Dallas Cowboys in the sharp set which has been newly updated to 20 cards!

The term "tallboys" refers to the size of this design, which was the standard sportscard width at 2.5 inches, but they are 4.75 inches tall, making this a formidable design that gives collectors a good look at their favorite players.

This set includes: Frank Clarke, Mike Gaechter, Tommy McDonald, Cornell Green, Pete Gent, George Andrie, Bob Hayes, Chuck Howley, Lee Roy Jordan, Bob Lilly, Dave Manders, Don Meredith, Ralph Neely, Pettis Norman, Don Perkins, Jethro Pugh, Dan Reeves, Mel Renfro, Jerry Rhome, and J.D. Smith.  Order yours here.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

1975 Dolphins: The End Of A Dynasty

1974 was the end of an era for the Miami Dolphins.  Three straight Super Bowls (1971-1973) two resulting in victories qualified them as a bonafide dynasty.  The 1972 season gets the most attention because of their unprecedented 17-0 season, the only team to go undefeated in the modern era.  But they had arguably a better team in 1973, when they repeated as champions against the Minnesota Vikings.  Though they remained a power house through the rest of the decade, the 1974 season marked a turing point in team personnel which saw the defection of three of their stars to the new WFL league in 1975.  The loss to the Oakland Raiders in the Playoffs signified the end of the Dynasty.

This 1975-styled RetroCards set features that 1974 team and includes new cards of the 3 Dolphin defectors and a host of other key players and fan-favorites: Larry Csonka, Jim Kiick, Paul Warfield, Marlin Briscoe, Wayne Moore, Earl Morrall, Bob Heinz, Lloyd Mumphord, Don Strock, Benny Malone, Mike Kolen, Curtis Johnson, Marv Fleming, Donny Anderson, Nat Moore, a team card featuring Don Shula, and two '74 Highlight cards featuring the "Sea Of Hands" playoff game and WFL card showing Kiick, Warfield, and Csonka in their new Memphis Southmen uniforms.  Get yours now!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

The Lost Namath Cards

Topps football cards, RetroCards custom cards that never were

A recent post showed another batch of Joe Namath cards in different designs during his early playing days.  This is a reminder post of the "lost Joe Namath cards" RetroCards created covering the 1974-1978 years.  Get your set here!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Cowboys Of '81: Danny Takes Over

Topps Bruce Thornton, Tim Newsome, Larry Bethea, John Fitzgerald, Robert Shaw, Doug Cosbie, Steve Wilson, Dennis Thurman, Gary Hogeboom, Tom Rafferty, Aaron Mitchell, Glenn Carano, Wade Manning, Ed “too Tall” Jones, Harvey Martin, Tom Landry, Danny White

The Danny White era had officially begun in 1980 after the somewhat unexpected retirement of Roger Staubach after the 1979 season.  With a balanced roster of talent, seasoned veterans, and young and rising stars, the Cowboys had every reason to feel they were a Super Bowl contender.  White led a potent offense, directing the Cowboys to a 12–4 record, good for second place in the Eastern Division.  Although they were number one in the NFL on offense and number 13 on defense, the Cowboys could not overcome the superior defense of the Philadelphia Eagles, losing 20–7 on the road in the NFC Championship Game.

This 18-card RetroCards set features players that did not appear on a regular card in 1981. The set includes: Bruce Thornton, Tim Newsome, Larry Bethea, John Fitzgerald, Robert Shaw, Doug Cosbie, Steve Wilson, Dennis Thurman, Gary Hogeboom, Tom Rafferty, Aaron Mitchell, Glenn Carano, Wade Manning, a team card featuring Tom Landry, an In-Action card of Danny White, and a “teammates” card featuring Harvey Martin and Ed “Too Tall” Jones. Also included are playoff cards of the NFC Wild Card vs. Rams and the NFC Divisional Game vs. Falcons.  Coming Soon!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

More Fun With Broadway Joe

Topps, Philadelphia Gum Cards, Brady Bunch, Bobby meets Broadway Joe

In an earlier post, RetroCards featured the “lost Joe Namath cards.”  From 1974-1978 there were no Joe Namath cards, presumably due to a lack of an agreement with the NFL Players Association (a similar predicament both Lynn Swann and Earl Campbell had).  So RetroCards filled in those missing years by doing what we do best: making custom sports cards.  But why stop there? 

Namath was such a popular player that RetroCards created another cache of cards that feature Namath cards in all four Philadelphia Gum card designs.  Although Joe’s first season was in 1965, the NFL and AFL drafts were held in November 1964 so RetroCards took the creative license and designed two 1964 cards: one in the Topps design, and a Philadelphia Gum Card design as a St. Louis Cardinal, the NFL team that drafted him.

The other oddball card is a 1968 Philadelphia Action card, which is a RetroCards original design, creating what may have been the fifth Philadelphia Gum card design had there been one in 1968. This original design is unique in that it focuses on “action” or “sideline” shots in a time when only posed player shots were used.  RetroCards will be elaborating on this design with some sets in the coming months.

RetroCards followers know that few subjects are off limits so Joe Namath gets a special card with Bobby Brady of the Brady Bunch TV show (I don’t think I have to explain the episode where Broadway Joe appears).  Look for more 70s TV cards as well as your favorite sports heroes here on this blog. 

Sunday, September 11, 2016

1970 Chicago Bears: A Decade Of Futility

Topps football cards Brian Piccolo, Craig Baynham, Dan Hale, Mike Hull, Major Hazelton, Harry Gunner, Bob Hyland, Dan Pride, Ross Montgomery, Bobby Joe Green, Bobby Douglass, Linzy Cole, Wayne Mass, Joe Taylor, Ronnie Bull,  Ed Obradovich, Ray Ogden, Jeff Churchin, Gale Sayers/Dick Butkus

After coming off a horrible 1–13 season in 1969, the Chicago Bears could only go in one direction. Gale Sayers was the only bright spot in 1969, leading the league in rushing, but he was not the same as his pre-surgery self, having lost his break away speed.  On top of the dismal record, running back Brian Piccolo was diagnosed with cancer and died in June of 1970.  Luckily, the Bears improved to a 6–8 record in 1970 and played their last game at Wrigley field before moving over to Soldier Field in 1971.  The 6–8 showing would be the Bears 3rd best record of the decade where they had only one winning season.

This 20-card set features a special "In Memoriam" card for Brian Piccolo, Craig Baynham, Dan Hale, Mike Hull, Major Hazelton, Harry Gunner, Bob Hyland, Dan Pride, Ross Montgomery, Bobby Joe Green, Bobby Douglass, Linzy Cole, Wayne Mass, Joe Taylor, Ronnie Bull,  Ed Obradovich, Ray Ogden, Jeff Churchin, and a Gale Sayers/Dick Butkus card.  Get your set here!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Ron Vander Kelen: Wisconsin Great

Topps, Philadelphia gum cards, NFL

Badger legend Ron Vander Kelen passed away at age 76, on August 14, 2016. He was the Co-MVP (with Trojan QB Pete Beathard) in the 1963 Rose Bowl where the University of Wisconsin was defeated by USC 42–37.  Down 42–14 in the fourth quarter, Vander Kelen orchestrate a comeback with 23 unanswered points but fell short in what is considered one of the greatest Bowl games of all-time.

He had one more MVP performance as starter in the College All-Star Game where the College All-Stars defeated the Packers 20–17 which included Vander Kelen completing a pass to Badger teammate Pat Richter.  This 1963 game was the last time the College team beat an NFL team.

Growing up in Preble, Wisconsin (soon to be annexed by Green Bay) he went undrafted by the NFL, probably because the Rose Bowl was played after the NFL draft. Vander Kelen signed as a free agent to play for the Minnesota Vikings and played backup to starting quarterback Fran Tarkenton. During his five years with the Vikings, he never attempted more than 58 passes in any one season. Vander Kelen ended up appearing in 29 games and had five starts, three coming in 1967, his final NFL season.  He was traded to the Falcons in 1968 but couldn't unseat Randy Johnson as the starter and was released.  He played briefly in the Canadian Football league before retiring.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

QBs Of 1973: Can't Get Enough

Topps Roman Gabriel , Jack Concannon, Dan Fouts, Jerry Tagge, Sam Wyche, Joe Ferguson, Wayne Clark, Bob Lee, Jim Del Gaizo, Tony Adams, Al Woodall, Dick Shiner, Randy Johnson, Sonny Jurgenson, Bill Munson, Bobby Scott, Bill Demory, Bill Cappleman, Charlie Napper, Lynn Dickey, Sonny Sixkiller, Joe Gilliam, Joe Reed, Tim Van Galder, Daryle Lamonica, Edd Hargett, Mike Livingston, Terry Hanratty, Pete Beathard, Gary Huff, Don Horn, Bert Jones, James Harris, Bill Nelson, Greg Cook, John Huarte

The quarterbacking landscape in the 1973 professional football world was much like it is today: only a handful of great ones, several midrange QBs that move around a lot, some up-and comers, and some down-and-outers.  1973 had a glut of athletes trying to claw their way to the top and RetroCards focuses on the quarterback position for this special set.

So many quarterbacks were floating around, there were enough RetroCards for two 20-card series!  Several high profile players like Dan Fouts, Bert Jones, Roman Gabriel, Sonny Jurgenson, and Joe Ferguson are featured (Gabriel gets a Ram card AND an Eagle card) and grace this series while some “never-would-be’s” also get their due in this set.  Coming soon!

Series one includes: Lynn Dickey, Sonny Sixkiller, Joe Gilliam, Jim Del Gaizo (Dolphins), Joe Reed, Tim Van Galder, Daryle Lamonica, Roman Gabriel (Rams), Edd Hargett, Mike Livingston, Terry Hanratty, Pete Beathard, Gary Huff, Don Horn, Bert Jones, James Harris, Bill Nelson, Greg Cook, John Huarte and a checklist card.

Series two includes: Roman Gabriel (Eagles), Jack Concannon, Dan Fouts, Jerry Tagge, Sam Wyche, Joe Ferguson, Wayne Clark, Bob Lee, Jim Del Gaizo (Packers), Tony Adams, Al Woodall, Dick Shiner, Randy Johnson, Sonny Jurgenson, Bill Munson, Bobby Scott, Bill Demory, Bill Cappleman, and Charlie Napper plus a checklist card.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

1962 Dallas Cowboys - A Flair For Fleer

Topps Fleer Mike Connelly, Lorenzo Stanford, Jim Doran, Don Bishop, Glynn Gregory, Eddie LeBaron, Bob Lilly, John Meyers, Andy Cvercko, Cornell Green, Ken Frost, Mike Dowdle, Tom Franckhauser, Bob Fry, Dale Memmelaar, Don Healy, Amos Bullocks, Warren Livingston

The Cowboys made big strides in 1961 after a winless inaugural season in 1960.  After starting 3–1, tied for first place in the Eastern Conference, the league caught up with the Cowboys as they settled into a 4-9-1 record.  Offensively the Cowboys had plenty of fire power with budding star Frank Clarke as one of the league’s top deep threats and the running tandem of Don Perkins and Amos Marsh helped the Cowboys finish 10th in rushing yards.  Rotating quarterbacks Eddie LeBaron and Don Meredith combined veteran leadership and youthful exuberance which saw the Cowboys 6th in passing.  Defensively, the Cowboys struggled, but defensive back Don Bishop was playing at an All-Pro level, and youngsters Chuck Howley and Bob Lilly showed signs of what was to come.

This RetroCards set is based off the 1962 Fleer AFL football card set but is freshened up with NFL players, namely the Dallas Cowboys.  Players in Series One include: Mike Connelly, Lorenzo Stanford, Jim Doran, Don Bishop, Glynn Gregory, Eddie LeBaron, Bob Lilly, John Meyers, Andy Cvercko, Cornell Green, Ken Frost, Mike Dowdle, Tom Franckhauser, Bob Fry, Dale Memmelaar, Don Healy, Amos Bullocks, & Warren Livingston.  Get yours here!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

1964 Cowboys: An Alternate Design

In 1964, NFL and AFL football cards were manufactured by two separate companies:  Topps got the AFL while the Philadelphia Gum Company obtained the license for the NFL.  What if those were swapped?  Wonder no more because RetroCards has made a 1964 Dallas Cowboys set in the Topps design.  For the the Cowboys collector who has everything, this is something to add to their collection.

The 18-card set includes:  Harold Hays, Bob Lilly, Amos Bullocks, George Andrie, Ray Schoenke, Lee Roy Jordan, Don Meredith,  Frank Clarke, Tommy McDonald, Don Perkins, Tom Landry, Roger Staubach, Pettis Norman, Jerry Tubbs, Larry Stephens, Chuck Howley, Buddy Dial, and Joe Bob Isbell.  Get your set here.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Cowboys On Ice In 1976

Topps Hockey 1975 1976 Roger Staubach, Preston Pearson, Harvey Martin, Butch Johnson, John Fitzgerald, Blaine Nye, Drew Pearson, Golden Richards, Too Tall Jones, Cliff Harris, Rayfield Wright, Charlie Waters, Billy Joe Dupree, Robert Newhouse, Thomas Henderson, Efren Herrera, Tom Landry
One of the fun parts of creating custom cards is you can utilize all sorts of different designs.  The 1976 Hockey set was a very attractive design that works perfectly for another Cowboys set.  America’s Team, love ‘em or hate ‘em, were really getting exposure by this time and their Super Bowl appearance that January did little to slow down their popularity. 

This set includes: Roger Staubach, Preston Pearson, Harvey Martin, Butch Johnson, John Fitzgerald, Blaine Nye, Drew Pearson, Golden Richards, Too Tall Jones, Cliff Harris, Rayfield Wright, Charlie Waters, Billy Joe Dupree, Robert Newhouse, Thomas Henderson, Efren Herrera, Tom Landry, and a team card. Order yours here!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Spotlight On: Nate Thurmond, A Center's Center

Topps Fleer RetroCards custom cards that never were

The passing of Nate Thurmond on July 16, 2016 made me think of some of the important NBA players I grew up watching and admiring.  Nate Thurmond was the player that made me realize what the center position was all about.  Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was on my home town team but it was watching Thurmond that help me understand what the role of a center was.  Some of today’s NBA centers could learn a thing or two from watching old Nate.

A Hall of Famer and one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History, Nate Thurmond played 14 seasons starting with the San Francisco Warriors in 1963.  He played in the shadow of teammate Wilt Chamberlain but blossomed into an NBA star after Chamberlain was traded to Philadelphia.  Thurmond became a regular All-Star and member of the NBA All-Defensive Team, averaging over 20 rebounds per game from 1967-68 season through the 1971-72 season.  Despite teaming with star Rick Barry, the Warriors were unable to defeat Chamberlain’s mighty 76ers in the 1967 NBA Championship.

A trade to the Bulls in 1974 saw the NBA’s first official quadruple double recorded by Thurmond on October 18, 1974.  However, he was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers the following season where he played out his career in his home state.  He helped the Cavs reach the NBA Eastern Conference Finals in 1976 and played a final season in Cleveland before retiring in 1977.  His number 42 is retired by both the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers. RetroCards honors one of the true NBA gentlemen with several new Nate Thurmond cards that never were.

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Waltons: No Longer Playing “Hard To Get”

Topps test set waltons, retrocards custom cards that never were 1972 1973 1974
Looking back on the 1970s, it amazes me how many different TV shows and TV personalities had board games, record albums, lunch boxes, and bubblegum cards.  Wasn’t our economy a bit shaky then?  If so, you would never know it judging on the consumption of the aforementioned pop cultures artifacts.  Charlie’s Angels, The Partridge Family, Welcome Back, Kotter, The Bionic Woman, Good Times and many other shows are well-represented on bubblegum cards but other shows didn’t get that privilege.

One of the decade’s bigger TV drama hits was the Waltons, a depression-era and World War II family that lived in rural Virginia on Walton’s Mountain.  A top-20 show in its first six seasons,  The Waltons got the usual 1970s pop culture treatment with a lunchbox, board game, record album, and was the subject of a Norman Rockwell painting. A bubblegum card set was piloted and proofs of the 55-card set were released but it never got past that stage.  Those cards today cost in the hundreds of dollars per card and are highly sought after.  The attractive pink-bordered cards are reminiscent of the designs of the time and features the Walton’s large cast.

RetroCards has created their own set based on the original design, changing the hot pink borders to light blue.  This 18-card set features characters and episodes from the first two seasons as well as a wrapper card of the original test set.  Poor collectors will now be able to afford to get the John-Boy rookie card in this attractive new set. Familiar faces include the Walton family, Baldwin Sisters, Ike Godsey, a young John Ritter as the Reverand, a wrapper card (from the original test set) and more! Coming soon!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

1963 Redskins: Hard Times, Hard Knocks

Topps 1963 Washington Redskins, RetroCards, custom cards that never were

A colorful franchise, with a rich history in professional football that goes back to the 1930’s, the Washington Redskins are one of the most popular teams in pro sports. The 1960’s, however, were not so colorful, except for their uniforms, as the franchise languished at the bottom of the NFL. Coming off a 5-7-2 season in 1962, the “Skins”, under Head Coach Bill McPeak, would sink deeper into the doldrums in 1963, winning only 3 games against 11 losses.

Although the team would have to wait nearly a decade for their next winning season and post-season appearance, the Redskins had their loyal fans. They played a rough style of football, and their burgundy and gold uniforms, with the iconic spear on the helmet, drew crowds on cold autumn days. RetroCards, always expanding the equally colorful 1963 football card style, now brings more of the ‘Skins history to life with this 18-card set.  Figures of the franchise from the early ‘60’s include Vince Promuto, Joe Rutgens, Bob Pellegrini, Andy Stynchula, John Paluck, Jim Steffen, and the Khayat brothers, Ed and Bob.  Players that would achieve fame later with other teams include Johnny Sample, Bill Anderson, and Ron Snidow. Unsung contributors, especially those mudders in the trenches, get their due, such as Fran O’Brien, Fred Hageman, Gorden Kelley, Harry Butsko and others.

The glamour of pro football didn’t only reside with the championship teams.  Sometimes it lay dormant with the franchises in their hard times.  So, if you are a hardcore ‘Skins fan through it all, a fan of the style and color of the 1963 cards, or a discriminating collector of pro football history, here’s your chance to awaken more of the hidden glory that is the Washington Redskins. Coming Soon!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

1974 Cowboys: A Basketball Design

Topps RetroCards custom cards that never were Dallas Cowboys

The mid 70’s was a great era for sport card designs; lots of wild colors, big afros, and  over-the-top fads.  That’s why RetroCards has created a new Dallas Cowboys set utilizing a 1974-75 basketball card design.  This was always a favorite design of mine and takes me back to my childhood when I would buy bubble gum cards at my local hobby shop.  This set features game action or sideline shots of some of the Cowboys biggest stars of the time and some that many probably have forgotten. 

The 1974 Cowboys were transitioning away from the old-timers that finally won a Super Bowl in 1971 into a more finesse team centered around Roger Staubach.  This season was the start of the second half of Staubach’s career where the Cowboys went to three Super Bowls in four years with relatively the same team of players. This set includes some obscure players such as Gene Killian, Duane Carrell, Calvin Peterson, Ken Hutcherson, Les Strayhorn, Bill Houston, Bruce Walton, Dennis Morgan, Louis Walker, and Jim Arneson.  Stars and familiar faces include: Roger Staubach, Lee Roy Jordan, Drew Pearson, Rayfield Wright, Cliff Harris, Jethro Pugh, Pat Toomay, and Jean Fugett. Get yours here.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Spotlight On: Mike Gaechter - Unheralded Hitting Machine

Topps, Fleer, Philadelphia cards, 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 football cards

The 1960s Dallas Cowboys had many stars and up-and-coming players that are well known to fans and football lovers.  However one player that has escaped attention is Mike Gaechter, who had a solid 9-year career starting in the Cowboys defensive secondary. Only four other Cowboys were fixtures on that defense over that same span: George Andrie, Chuck Howley, Cronell Green, and Bob Lilly. Gaechter (pronounced: `Gek-ter) was a play maker and punishing hitter, who played at a Pro Bowl level, yet never was elected. Eagle star receiver Pete Retzlaff said of him, "If I had him on me every Sunday, I would have gotten out of this business a long while ago."

A former track star at Oregon, the Cowboys signed him as a free agent for his speed. Gaechter was a member University of Oregon’s world record setting team in the 4 x 110 relay, a team that also included future teammate Mel Renfro. Football was his second sport and did not start on the football squad until his senior year, while he was cultivating his track career.  He started his Cowboy career as a cornerback but was switched to strong safety in 1963. His interception totals are 21 for 420 yards (a 20 yard per return average) and he was a terror at pressuring place kickers.

His ball hawking skills were evident with his 5 interceptions during his rookie season and on his record setting 101-yard interception return, a team record that stood for 48 years. That return set another record for two 100 yard plays in the same game (the other was a kick-off return by Amos Marsh).

His career took a bad turn when he tore his achilles tendon in the meaningless Playoff Bowl vs. the Rams in January of 1970.  He spent the entire 1970 season on injured reserve and was traded in 1971 to the Redskins where he was cut at the end of training camp, ending his career. In his retirement, he sued the Cowboys for medical malpractice for the mishandling of his injury. He passed away in August of 2015 of heart failure after suffering from alzheimer’s disease.

Despite a long career with the Cowboys, Mike Gaechter never had a card. This has been remedied as Gaecther now graces several Cowboys RetroCard team sets along with many other players that were overlooked in the sport card world. Check them out here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

1958 Packers: Lombardi's Inheritance

Topps 1958 Green Bay Packers "pre-lombardi"

The 1958 season was definitely a low point in the storied history of the Green Bay Packers.   After a disappointing 3-9 season, and a sixth place finish in the NFL’s Western Division in 1957, head coach Lisle Blackbourn resigned after four seasons.   Enter Raymond “Scooter” McLean, who had been a Packers interim coach for two games in 1953, to take over the mantle of command for the 1958 season.   Although hope springs eternal, the Packers would sink even deeper with a 1-10-1 record and a last place finish.

As the saying goes, “it is always darkest before the dawn.”   Despite the dismal season of 1958, a look at the roster would reveal a number of highly recognizable names.   In fact, it included those of six future Hall-of-Famers, and numerous other future All-Pros and gridiron greats of Packers lore.   The seeds of a championship franchise were waiting for the coming of a great leader who would arrive the following year.

RetroCards presents a new 18-card set featuring many of those “recognizable names.”  Would-be rookie cards, and second year cards of Packers superstars include Forrest Gregg, Jim Taylor, Paul Hornung, Jerry Kramer, Max McGee, Ray Nitschke, and Ron Kramer. Other stars and notable names “before Vince” include Tom Bettis, Bob Skoronski, Dave Hanner, Norm Masters, John Symank, and Fred Cone.  Lesser known players like John Petibone, Sam Palumbo, Fred Cone, Jim Temp, and Even Scooter himself gets his due in this set.  Order here!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Spotlight On: Dick Allen, Hall Of Fame Hopeful

Topps 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1978, football-style

Perhaps the most deserving of any former professional athlete who has not been inducted to the Hall Of Fame is Major League Baseball star Dick Allen.  Websites, blogs, and many an article have devoted time and space to this topic and RetroCards is weighing in on Dick Allen.  Here's some background on Mr. Allen:


Allen has impressive career numbers: .292 lifetime batting average, .534 slugging percentage, and an on base percentage of .378.  He was known for his amazing power (351 home runs) and ability for tape measure home runs that are calculated as some of the longest ever hit.  He won Rookie Of The Year honors in 1964 and an MVP award in 1972 and has the distinction of hitting two inside the park home runs in the same game.

The Detractors

Although his lifetime averages are impressive, the fact he only played 15 seasons and therefore his totals aren't on par with other Hall Of Famers, has hurt him.  If one looks at other Hall Of Famers with long careers you’ll find multiple seasons where those players were past their prime and were able to pad their number in their twilight years. Allen also had some minor controversies surrounding him during his career

Despite being Rookie Of The Year in 1964 and making the All-Star team from 1965-1967 as Philadelphia Phillie, he was often booed by the hometown crowd.  A locker room fight with teammate Frank Thomas ended with Thomas being cut from the team.  Fans sided with the popular Thomas, leaving Allen as somewhat of a scapegoat.  It has been suggested that Philly fans and writers, long known for being tough on home town players, were upset because a white player got cut in favor of a black player. 

Philadelphia fans showed their lack of support to Allen by throwing objects at him regularly along with abusing him with racial slurs and obscenities. He started wearing his batting helmet in the field after being showered with food, ice, garbage, and batteries!  This is reportedly were his nickname “Crash” came from.

There was also controversy over his first name.  Known as "Dick" since childhood, upon arriving in the majors, he was referred to as “Ritchie” for unknown reasons.  This was a source of distain for Allen as he felt the name Ritchie was a “little boys name.”  When he arrived in St. Louis in 1970 the team acknowledged his name as “Dick” for the first time in his career.

After one year in Los Angeles, he was traded to the Chicago White Sox in 1972 where he proceeded to have his finest season. Which was the first of three straight All-Star seasons (1972-1974).  His time in Chicago ended in controversy when he left the team with two weeks left in the 1974 season.  According to his autobiography, Allen blamed his feud with hometown favorite Ron Santo, who was riding out his career as a reason for leaving.  The White Sox sold his contract to the Braves.  Instead of reporting to the Braves, Allen retired. 

His retirement was short-lived as the Phillies convinced him to play in 1975.  His numbers were down but he was still hitting with respectable power.  His career petered out with a final season in Oakland (1977) in which he left the team with more than half the season left to play.

• Despite rumors to the contrary, several players and managers including Willie Stargell, Orlando Cepeda, Rich Gossage, Mike Schmidt, Gene Mauch, and Chuck Tanner are some of the supporters of Allen’s positive clubhouse attitude, willingness to help mold young players, and ability to come through in clutch situations.

• During Allen's time with the Sixties-era Phillies, he sang lead with a doo-wop group called the Ebonistics.  Dick Allen and The Ebonistics sang professionally at Philadelphia night clubs. He once entertained during halftime of a Philadelphia 76ers game.

RetroCards has created several custom cards to fill in some gaps in Dick Allen’s card career and to call attention to a great player who deserves special recognition whether you believe he is Hall Of Fame worthy or not.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

1966 Dallas Cowboys: America's Team On The Rise

Topps Don Meredith, Bob Lilly, Bob Hayes, Chuck Howley, Don Perkins, Frank Clarke, Mel Renfro, Buddy Dial, Mike Gaechter, Don Bishop, Pete Gent, Jerry Rhome, Pettis Norman, Dan Reeves, Tom Landry, the Cotton Bowl, 1965 Playoff Bowl.

The Cowboys had come within one victory of being NFL champions in 1966 and thus began a dynasty that lasted arguable until the early 1980s.  The original Topps set from 1966 showcased only AFL players in an attractive horizontal TV screen design that has timeless appeal.  An earlier RetroCards set featuring NFL All-Pros in this style has prompted the first team set – the Dallas Cowboys.

This set reflects the accomplishments of the 1965 season and most of the player pictures feature game or sideline shots giving the TV design an added touch of reality.  This Cowboys set includes all the stars: Don Meredith, Bob Lilly, Bob Hayes, Chuck Howley, Don Perkins, Frank Clarke, and Mel Renfro.  Other notable players include Buddy Dial, Mike Gaechter, Don Bishop, Pete Gent, Jerry Rhome, Pettis Norman, and Dan Reeves.  Other cards feature Coach Tom Landry, the Dallas defense, the Cotton Bowl, and the Playoff Bowl.

This set is coming soon!

Monday, May 30, 2016

1963 Lions: So Close And Yet So Far

Topps Bob Scholtz, Dan LaRose, Bob Whitlow, John Gonzaga, John Lomakoski, Darris McCord, Jim Martin, Sam Williams, Gary Lowe, Ken Webb, Paul Ward, Wayne Walker, Dick Compton, Terry Barr, Pat Studstill, Tom Watkins, Bruce Maher, Tom Hall, Dick LeBeau, Alex Karras

In 1962, the Detroit Lions had their best season since winning the NFL Championship in 1957.  Coming within a hair of winning the NFL Western Division, with an 11-3 record and a second place finish, they were known for handing the champion Green Bay Packers their only loss, a 26-14 shellacking on Thanksgiving Day (Lions fans STILL talk about that game).  Moreover, they lost in a heartbreaker to the same Packers team earlier in the season (9-7), a game which, had they won, would have given them the division. That game was the subject of Vince Lombardi’s well-known autobiography Run to Daylight.

RetroCards now presents our supplement to the 1963 set which reviews this memorable Lions season.  Superstars and holdovers from the 1957 Championship team include Darris McCord, Jim Martin, Sam Williams, Wayne Walker, Terry Barr and Gary Lowe.  Bright young newcomers who would help shape the future of the Lions franchise include Pat Studstill, Tom Watkins, Bruce Maher, Tom Hall and future Hall-of-Famers Dick LeBeau and Alex Karras, who like Paul Hornung, was suspended for the 1963 season for gambling and hence, did not have a card.  Even little known linemen, but known to Lions historians, are included such as Bob Scholtz, Dan LaRose, Bob Whitlow, John Gonzaga and John Lomakoski.

This set is an attractive and informative commemoration of one of the truly bright spots in the history of the Detroit Lions.  So, whether you are a die-hard fan of the silver and blue, an aficionado of the Lombardi tome that recalls that 9-7 game in 1962, or a true historian of the classic NFL, this set if for you!

20-card set: Bob Scholtz, Dan LaRose, Bob Whitlow, John Gonzaga, John Lomakoski, Darris McCord, Jim Martin, Sam Williams, Gary Lowe, Ken Webb, Paul Ward, Wayne Walker, Dick Compton, Terry Barr, Pat Studstill, Tom Watkins, Bruce Maher, Tom Hall, Dick LeBeau, and Alex Karras.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

1967 Green Bay Packers: 1st Super Bowl Champs

Topps, Carroll Dale, Boyd Dowler, Bob Jeter, Marv Fleming, Don Chandler, Elijah Pitts, Jerry Kramer, Fuzzy Thurston, Gale Gillingham, Donny Anderson, Jim Grabowski, Ben Wilson, Ken Bowman, Bob Hyland, Don Horn, Allen Brown, Chuck Mercein, John Rowser

In 1967, the Green Bay Packers represented the NFL as the first ever defending Super Bowl Champions. After defeating the Kansas City Chiefs 35-10 in the first AFL-NFL Championship Game, as it was initially called, they embarked on a quest to win that game a second time. As the team was rapidly aging at the time, few believed that they would. However, as history knows it, they did, defeating the Oakland Raiders 33-14 in January of 1968. That would give the franchise five pro football championships in seven years.

The solid yellow-bordered 1967 football cards featured superstars of the NFL, including future Hall-of-Famers for the Packers. Always pursuing new Packers sets, RetroCards has come up with a 20-card set to accompany the regular issue cards. Old pros, well-known to the “Frozen Tundra”, include Carroll Dale, Boyd Dowler, Bob Jeter, Marv Fleming, Don Chandler, Elijah Pitts, and the ever-popular and iconic guards Jerry Kramer and Fuzzy Thurston. Younger contributors to the Packer dynasty, coming into their own in 1967, include Gale Gillingham, Donny Anderson, Jim Grabowski and Ken Bowman.

Many collectors will actually find the highlights of this set to be the several players shown in Packer uniforms for the first time on a card. They are Bob Hyland, Don Horn, Allen Brown, Chuck Mercein, John Rowser, and the leading ground gainer in Super Bowl II, Ben Wilson. We here at RetroCards are truly proud of this set, commemorating the once and again Super Bowl champion Packers.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Spotlight On Dock Ellis: Psychedelics, Amphetamine, & Attitude

Topps, texas rangers, new york mets, new york yankees, oakland a's, No hitter, 1968, 1971, 1974, 1977, 1979, 1980, baseball cards
RetroCards prides itself on recognizing special players that were big contributors that didn’t receive much recognition, players that had unique moments in the sports arena, and characters of the game.  Dock Ellis qualifies in all three categories and is often overlooked because of the high numbers of ace pitchers during his time.  Dock Ellis was a loose cannon who played the game tough, without compromising his style on the field or off.  He was one of the most intimidating pitchers of his day and didn’t hesitate to hit a star player in the face if he felt he was ever shown up.  Just ask Reggie Jackson.

In a league that was fraught with substances used to enhance play during the 1970s, Ellis was one of the first to speak openly about this and his own substance abuse after retiring in 1980.  His greatest claim to fame is perhaps having pitched a no-hitter under the influence of LSD in 1970.  Unable to pitch without substances and burnt out at the end of his career, Ellis check himself into rehab shortly after retirement.  He remained clean for the remainder of his life and worked as a drug counselor, teacher, and mentor for MLB players struggling with addiction. 

The Dock Ellis Timeline:

• Ellis refused to play for the Gardena High School baseball team, because a baseball player referred to him as a spearchucker.
• When Ellis was caught drinking and smoking marijuana in a high school bathroom during his senior year, the school agreed not to expel him if he agreed to play for the school’s baseball team.
• He appeared in four games and was named all-league.
• At the age of 17, Ellis was diagnosed with sickle cell anemia.

• Various Major League Baseball teams attempted to sign him to a professional contract, but as he heard the Pittsburgh Pirates gave out signing bonuses of $60,000, he held out until the Pirates made him an offer.
• He was arrested for grand theft auto, and given probation. As a result of the arrest, the Pirates offered Ellis $500 a month and a $2,500 signing bonus.
• Was sent down to the Macon Peaches which Ellis believed was due to the length of his hair.
• Ellis said that he was promoted back to Columbus after shaving his head.
• During his minor league career, Ellis once chased a heckler in the stands with a baseball bat.
• He also used pills when he pitched, specifically the amphetamines Benzedrine and Dexamyl.
• Ellis later said that he never pitched a game without using amphetamines.
• Ellis acknowledged that he began to use cocaine in the late 1960s.
• Made his MLB debut that June (1968), beginning as a relief pitcher.
• In 1969 he made the team’s starting rotation for Opening Day.

1970 The LSD No-Hitter
• Under the influence of LSD, Ellis pitched a no-hitter against the Padres on Friday, June 12, 1970.   The Pirates flew to San Diego on Thursday, June 11 for a series against the San Diego Padres. Ellis reported that he visited a friend in Los Angeles and used LSD “two or three times.” Thinking it was still Thursday, he took a hit of LSD on Friday at noon, and his friend’s girlfriend reminded him at 2:00 PM that he was scheduled to pitch that night. Ellis flew from Los Angeles to San Diego at 3:00 PM and arrived at San Diego Stadium at 4:30 PM; the game started at 6:05 PM.  Ellis threw a no-hitter despite being unable to feel the ball or see the batter or catcher clearly. Ellis said his catcher Jerry May wore reflective tape on his fingers which helped him to see May’s signals. Ellis walked eight batters and struck out six, and he was aided by excellent fielding plays from second baseman Bill Mazeroski and center fielder Matty Alou.

As Ellis recounted the LSD No-Hitter:
"I can only remember bits and pieces of the game. I was psyched. I had a feeling of euphoria. I was zeroed in on the [catcher’s] glove, but I didn’t hit the glove too much. I remember hitting a couple of batters, and the bases were loaded two or three times. The ball was small sometimes, the ball was large sometimes, sometimes I saw the catcher, sometimes I didn’t. Sometimes, I tried to stare the hitter down and throw while I was looking at him. I chewed my gum until it turned to powder. I started having a crazy idea in the fourth inning that Richard Nixon was the home plate umpire, and once I thought I was pitching a baseball to Jimi Hendrix, who to me was holding a guitar and swinging it over the plate. They say I had about three to four fielding chances. I remember diving out of the way of a ball I thought was a line drive. I jumped, but the ball wasn’t hit hard and never reached me."

• Ellis worked on his changeup for the 1971 season. He was rewarded by being named the Pirates’ Opening Day starting pitcher; he defeated the Philadelphia Phillies by a score of 4-2.
• Ellis was named to appear in the 1971 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, held at Tiger Stadium in Detroit. The AL selected Vida Blue of the Oakland Athletics as their starter, and Ellis publicly stated that National League All-Star Team manager Sparky Anderson would “never start two brothers against each other”. Anderson surprised Ellis by naming him the starting pitcher of the All-Star Game. Ellis was the losing pitcher in the game.  During the game, Reggie Jackson hit a towering home run off of Ellis. The home run, estimated to have traveled 600 feet (180 m), tied a 1926 home run hit by Babe Ruth for the longest measured home run on record. The next time the two opposed each other, Ellis beaned Jackson in the face in retaliation for his earlier home run.
• Ellis started Game 2 of the 1971 NLCS, earning the victory over the San Francisco Giants. During the series, Ellis created a stir by complaining about the Pirates’ lodgings, saying that the organization was “cheap.”

• On May 5, 1972, Ellis, Willie Stargell, and Rennie Stennett missed the team bus to Riverfront Stadium. A security guard asked the three for identification; Stargell and Stennett complied and were allowed in, but Ellis did not have identification with him. The guard said that Ellis did not identify himself, appeared drunk, and “made threatening gestures with a closed fist.” Ellis countered that he was showing his World Series ring as evidence of his affiliation with the Pirates. In response, the guard maced Ellis. Ellis was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.  The Reds sued Ellis for assault and Ellis countersued. Before going to trial, the Reds dropped the suit and wrote Ellis a letter of apology. The municipal court dropped the charges against Ellis, though Ellis stated that this incident made him “hate better.”

• Ellis said that the scariest moment of his career was when he attempted to pitch while sober in a 1973 game. During pre-game warmups, he couldn’t recreate his pitching mechanics. Ellis went to his locker, took some amphetamines with coffee, and returned to pitch.
• In August 1973, pictures circulated of Ellis wearing hair curlers in the bullpen during pre-game warmups. The Pirates told him not to wear curlers on the field again. Ellis agreed, but charged that the Pirates were displaying racism. Ebony devoted a spread to Ellis about his hairstyles, which was inspired by the hair curlers.  After Ellis defeated the Reds by a score of 1-0 in a 1973 game, Joe Morgan claimed that Ellis threw a spitball. Anderson had the umpire check Ellis, but found no evidence. In his 1980 book, Ellis admitted that wearing hair curlers produced sweat on his hair, which he used to throw a modified version of a spitball.

• Ellis attempted to hit every batter in the Cincinnati Reds lineup on May 1, 1974, as he was angry that the Pirates were intimidated by the Big Red Machine.  Ellis admired Pete Rose and was concerned about how he would respond, but Ellis decided to do it regardless. Ellis hit Rose, Joe Morgan, and Dan Driessen in the top of the first inning. Cleanup batter Tony PĂ©rez avoided Ellis’s attempts and drew a walk; the first pitch to Perez was thrown behind him and over his head. Ellis threw two pitches that he aimed at the head of Johnny Bench, at which point Ellis was removed from the game by manager Danny Murtaugh.
• 1975 In August, the Pirates asked Ellis to pitch in the bullpen; he refused on consecutive nights.The Pirates suspended him for one day. Ellis called for a team meeting the next day, where he was expected to apologize. Instead, he berated Murtaugh, who responded by cursing at Ellis, ordering the pitcher out of the clubhouse and attempting to fight him.  The Pirates suspended Ellis for thirty days and fined him $2,000. The suspension was lifted on August 30 when Ellis apologized to Murtaugh.

• On December 11, Ellis was traded to the New York Yankees of the American League  along with pitcher Ken Brett and top infield prospect Willie Randolph, in exchange for pitcher Doc Medich. Tired of Ellis’ behavior, Pittsburgh general manager Joe L. Brown insisted that the Yankees take Ellis as part of the deal.
• With the Yankees, Ellis pitched to a 17–8 win-loss record with a 3.15 ERA during the 1976 regular season. After the season, he was voted the AL Comeback Player of the Year by the United Press International.
• Before the 1977 season, Ellis publicly criticized Yankees owner George Steinbrenner for giving him a raise that was inadequate given his 1976 performance and for interfering with manager Billy Martin. As Ellis refused to sign his contract, and the Yankees traded Ellis to the Oakland A’s.
• While pitching for Oakland, the team asked him to keep charts. Defiant, Ellis set the charts on fire in the clubhouse, setting off sprinklers. Ellis ranked this as the “craziest” thing he did during his career.
• The Texas Rangers purchased his contract from Oakland.

• Ellis complained about Ranger’s manager Billy Hunter’s liquor policy in 1978. Hunter, responding to a raucous team flight, banned liquor on team flights; Ellis vowed that he would bring liquor on the plane to Toronto anyway.  Ellis led a player insurrection against manager Billy Hunter’s authoritarian style, declaring that Hunter “may be Hitler, but he ain’t making no lampshade out of me.”
• Ellis was traded to the Mets where he pitched poorly.
• Ellis requested a move back to the Pirates who purchased him for the waiver price of $20,000.
• Ellis made 3 relief appearances for the Pirates in 1979 and retired in the spring of 1980.
• Ellis kept a notebook, called “The Book,” with detailed information about each hitter’s strengths and weaknesses. He often asked teammates and members of other teams, including pitchers Bob Gibson and Juan Marichal, for advice on how to pitch opposing batters.
• Ellis threw five distinct pitches: a fastball, a curveball, a changeup, a palmball, and what Ellis called a “sliding fastball”. The latter pitch was distinct from a slider.  Ellis trusted his catcher to call pitches, and he rarely asked for a new sign.

Post Playing Career:
• Ellis entered a drug treatment facility for 40 days.  After treatment Ellis remained sober and devoted the remainder of his life to counseling drug addicts in treatment centers and prisons.
• He appeared in the 1986 Ron Howard film Gung Ho.
• Ellis was player/coach for the St. Petersburg Pelicans fo the Senior Professional Baseball Association and went 0-2 with a 1.76 ERA and 7 saves.  He continued to play in the LA veterans League.
• Ellis was diagnosed with cirrhosis in 2007 and was placed on the liver transplant list.
• He died in 2008 due to a liver ailment.

Check out the excellent 2014 documentary on him, No No: A Dockumentary