Saturday, January 28, 2017

1963 49ers: No Where To Go But Up

Topps, San Francisco 49ers, football cards

The 1962 season began with high hopes with coach Red Hickey calling the team the best he has ever coached.  But once the season began, injuries took an immediate toll.  Star lineman Bob St. Claire went down with an achilles tendon and star halfback Bill Kilmer broke his leg in a car accident when driving into the San Francisco Bay.  Their 6-8 record in 1962 dropped to 2-12 in 1963 as more injuries piled up, with Kilmer missing the whole year, starting QB John Brodie breaking is arm, and several defensive starters going down with knee injuries. As dissension seeped into the lock room,  coach Hickey was fired.  

It would be a long climb back but this team was not without some interesting players and future stars and RetroCards has an 18-card set to add to our expansive 1963 set.  This set includes: Kermit Alexander, Clyde Conner, Bill Cooper, Leon Donohue, Eddie Dove, Jimmy Johnson, Carl Kammerer, Roland Lakes, Kay McFarland, Jerry Mertens, Clark Miller, Walt Rock, Len Rohde, Karl Rubke, Monte Stickles, John Thomas, Jim VollenWeider, and Bob Waters.  Coming soon.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

1972 Series II: Super Bowl Winners

Topps 1972 RetroCards, custom cards that never were, Super Bowl VI


If you enjoyed the first RetroCard series on the 72 Cowboys, there is more where that came from.  In honor of the Cowboys 1971 Super Bowl victory,  RetroCards releases the 1972 Series II set.  Series II leaves few stones unturned with more key players, unsung heroes, and Hall of Famers.  The set includes: Gloster Richardson, Blaine Nye, Forrest Gregg, Rodney Wallace, Cliff Harris, Billy Truax, Charlie Waters, Billy Parks, Jack Concannon, D.D. Lewis, Tody Smith, Tony Liscio, Don Talbert, plus a Roger Staubach All-Pro card, a team champions card, and "In Action" cards of Lance Alworth and Chuck Howley.  Order here!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

1972 Dallas Cowboys Series I

Topps football, RetroCards, custom cards that never were

The Cowboys had finally won the big one in 1971 after five straight disappointing post season losses.  Tex Schramm put the crowbar in the old wallet and put together a team that couldn’t possibly lose.  Yet had it not been for Roger Staubach, they probably would have lost.  Coach Landry made the decision to start Staubach over Craig Morton and the Cowboys never looked back.

Every starter on offense consisted of and All-Pro, a Pro Bowler (at one time or another), and/or a future Hall of Famer.  Even late insurance pick up Forrest Gregg, was a shoe-in Hall of Fame player.  Backups Calvin Hill and Dan Reeves plus special teamers Ron Widby and Mike Clark even were Pro Bowlers in their respective careers. Defensively they were just as strong with two of the best linebackers in the game: Chuck Howley and Lee Roy Jordan.  Hall of Famers Mel Renfro, Herb Adderley, Bob Lilly led other stars like Cornell Green and Jethro Pugh.  New and up-and-coming players like D.D. Lewis, Cliff Harris, and Charlie waters also were big contributors.

Consequently, the original football set of 1972, though large, couldn’t possibly include all the greats so RetroCards addresses this with an 18-card set full of Cowboy stars you’ll love: Mike Ditka, Ralph Neely, Ron Widby, Dan Reeves, Dave Manders, Craig Morton, Mel Renfro, Cornell Green, George Andrie, Larry Cole, Jethro Pugh, Dave Edwards, Lee Roy Jordan, Chuck Howley, Ike Thomas, Tom Stincic, Tom Landry, plus an In Action card of Ike Thomas. Get series one here.

Watch for series II coming soon!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Reggie Harding: Baddest Of The Bad Boys

Fleer, Topps, NBA, American Basketball Association

The history of 1960s pro basketball shows a sport at the beginning of a big rise.  The pro game began to develop as more athletic and physical players arrived on the scene.  The new American Basketball Association challenged the old guard NBA and a flood of new players that never would have had a chance in pro ball, found spots on rosters.

History has shown that any 7-foot basketball player – no matter what their skill level is – is always in demand.  “Maybe we can hone his skills.  Maybe we can control him.  Maybe we can design a role for him that helps our team.”  That makes three “maybes.”  Maybe that’s what the Detroit Pistons were thinking when they drafted the first non-college-playing player in Reggie Harding in 1962. 

A Detroit native, Harding was selected in the 4th round of the 1962 draft from Eastern High School.  He was drafted a second time in 1963 (6th round) and made the Pistons roster, beginning a turbulent 6-year career that culminated with him being shot dead in the streets of Detroit at the age of 30 in 1972.

Not age-eligible out of high school, Harding played for a Nashville prep school for two seasons and then in the professional Midwest league in Toledo and Holland, MI. When he joined the Pistons, he was considered a project.  However he became a quick and solid contributor averaging 27 minutes in 191 games, and averaging 9.3 points and 9.3 rebounds per game in his tenure with the Pistons.  He was fun-loving but loved street life and surrounded himself with the sketchiest of characters – none of whom helped keep him on the straight and narrow. Clubs, drugs, crime, guns, and alcohol became his focus as he became increasingly undependable as his career progressed. He was suspended for the entire 1965-1966 season for what is believe to be a weapons charge and promptly wore out his welcome the following season.

Nonetheless, a big man is always in demand and the struggling Chicago Bulls (whose fan support rivaled many ABA teams with one reported home attendance figure in 1967-68 as a measly 891 fans) took a gamble on him.  The Bulls traded for him prior to the 1967-68 season and he lasted a mere 14 games.  After a brief stop to play for the CBA’s  Trenton Colonials, he wound up in the ABA with the Indiana Pacers, who were desperate for a big man.  By this time Harding was at his most maniacal,  waking up roommate Jim Rayl at gunpoint and threatening to kill Pacer GM Mike Storen in a TV interview!  He lasted with the Pacers only 25 games and tt the end of the season he owed the Pacers $00 for being fined so much.

By 1968, his reputation and antics had caught up with him and he never played pro ball again.  Perhaps most disturbing were stories of him holding up the same gas station 3 times and raping a pre-Supremes Florence Ballard in 1960.  “A lot of people were very emotional about Reggie,” Piston forward Ray Scott says. “Some people viewed his story as a fault of society. Society did fail him, but we were never able to get him off the street. In my opinion, Reggie was where he wanted to be.”  For a more comprehensive account of Reggie Harding’s plight, check out this SlamOnline article written by Michael Bradley.

Watch for the RetroCards 1968 Indiana Pacers set coming soon!