Thursday, December 13, 2018

1976 Raiders Finally Taste A Championship

1977 Topps Football cards


After having lost three straight AFC Championship games from 1973-1975, the Raiders put it all together in 1976 with their first NFL championship in Super Bowl XI.  Their 13–1 record was quite a feat after beating arch rival the Pittsburgh Steelers at home in week one with an impressive come from behind victory.  This was followed by a brutal 5-game road trip in which they went 4–1, the only loss coming in a 48–17 drubbing from the New England Patriots.  From that point on, they didn’t lose again, getting revenge on the Patriots in round one of the playoffs, then beating the Steelers again, and culminating with their Victory over the Minnesota Vikings in the Super Bowl.

The 1977 football card set is a collector’s favorite although many of the top Raider stars are included, several top-notch players and secondary players that were important to the team’s success were missed. As per usual, RetroCards fills in those gaps and more.

This set includes: George Atkinson, Pete Banaszak, Rodrigo Barnes, Morris Bradshaw, Willie Brown, Neal Colzie, Carl Garrett, Ted Hendricks, Ted Kwalick, Errol Mann, Charles Phillips, Charles Philyaw, Mike Rae, Dave Rowe, Mike Siani, Jack Tatum, Skip Thomas, John Madden, a Super Bowl highlight of Fred Biletnikoff, and another Super Bowl highlight of Ken Stabler with ultra-fan James Garner on the sideline. Order your set here!

Saturday, December 8, 2018

1969 Jets: Guaranteed To Please

Topps, Super Bowl III, Colts, Jets


The 1968 Jets were the powerhouse of the AFL, beating the Oakland Raiders in the AFL Championship Game. But history was made when Joe Namath, sick of the reporters hounding him, predicted the impossible – that the Jets would beat the Colts of the mighty NFL. 

One of the most colorful sets ever designed, the 1969 football set combined both NFL and AFL teams into one set.  But because of this, there were fewer players per team. The Jets had a mere seven player cards in the regular set, missing several key players and team stars that helped them win Super Bowl III.

RetroCards more than makes up for the paultry seven cards in the original set by adding 25 more cards! Included are: Al Atkinson, Bill Baird, Verlon Biggs, Emerson Boozer, Earl Christy, Paul Crane, John Dockery, John Elliot, Larry Grantham, Dave Herman, Winston Hill, Jim Hudson, Billy Joe, Pete Lammons, Bill Mathis, Carl McAdams, Babe Parilli, Bill Radenmaker, Jeff Richardson, Paul Rochseer, Johnny Sample, John Schmidt, Mark Smolinski, head coach Weeb Ewbanks, and an “Aerial Attack” card featuring Joe Namath, Don Maynard, and George Sauer. Order your set here!

Friday, November 30, 2018

1966 Philadelphia 140-card Update Set


Retrocards introduces our first full custom NFL set. Picking up where the original 1966 Philadelphia set ends, this 140-card set includes eight new players for each of the 15 NFL teams, along with a Team Leaders and four post season Highlight cards. Nearly half (45%) of the cards feature players that either never had a card, or were never issued a card with the team they are pictured with in this set.  

If you prefer to order team sets only, there are some available so click here to order!

ATLANTA FALCONS: 199 Alex Hawkins, 200 Jerry Jones, 201 Frank Marchlewski , 202 Bill Martin, 203 Nick Rassas, 204 Steve Sloan, 205 Don Talbert, 206 Bob Whitlow, 207 Falcons TL

BALTIMORE COLTS: 208 Ordell Brasse, 209 Gary Cuozzo, 210 Jerry Hill, 211 Willie Richardson 
212 Don Shinnick, 213 Billy Ray Smith, 214 Steve Stonebreaker , 215 Butch Wilson, 216 Colts TL

CHICAGO BEARS:  217 Duane Allen , 218 Charlie Bivins, 219 Bob Kilcullen, 220 Joe Marconi, 221 Ed O’Bradovich, 222 Brian Piccolo, 223 Larry Rakestraw, 224 Dave Whitsell, 225 Bears TL

CLEVELAND BROWNS: 226 Galen Fiss, 227 Lou Groza, 228 Clifton McNeil, 229 Jim Ninowski, 230 Frank Parker, 231 Bernie Parrish, 232 Nick Pietrosante, 233 Paul Warfield, 234 Browns TL

DALLAS COWBOYS: 235 Jim Colvin, 236 Mike Gaechter , 237 Walt Garrison , 238 Pete Gent, 239 Jethro Pugh, 240 Jerry Rhome , 241 Les Shy, 242 Willie Townes , 243 Cowboys TL

DETROIT LIONS: 244 Wally Hilgenberg, 245 George Izo, 246 Jim Kearney, 247 Bob Kowalkowski, 248 Ron Kramer, 249 Bill Malinchak, 250 Darris McCord, 251 Bobby Thompson, 252 Lions TL

GREEN BAY PACKERS: 253 Lionel Aldridge, 254 Bill Anderson, 255 Zeke Bratkowski, 256 Paul Hornung, 257 Jerry Kramer, 258 Bob Long, 259 Max McGee, 260 Dave Robinson, 261 Packers TL

LOS ANGELES RAMS: 262 Ken Iman, 263 Les Josephson, 264 Chuck Lamson, 265 Tom Moore, 266 Myron Pottios, 267 Jack Snow, 268 Billy Truax, 269 Clancy Williams, 270 Rams TL

MINNESOTA VIKINGS: 271 Karl Kassulke, 272 Phil King, 273 Gary Larsen, 274 Red Phillips, 275 Lance Rentzel, 276 Ron Vander Kelen, 277 Roy Winston, 278 Jim Young, 279 Vikings TL

NEW YORK GIANTS: 280 Bookie Bolin, 281Pete Case, 282 Darrell Dess, 283 Pete Gogolak, 284 Jim Katcavage, 285 Ernie Koy, 286 Earl Morrall, 287 Del Shofner, 288 Giants TL 

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: 289 King Hill, 290 Lane Howell, 291 Don Hultz, 292 Ollie Matson, 293 Mike Morgan, 294 Jim Skaggs, 295 Fred Whittingham, 296 Tom Woodeshick, 297 Eagles TL

PITTSBURGH STEELERS: 298 John Baker, 299 Charlie Bradshaw, 300 John Campbell, 301 Bob Hohn, 302 Brady Keys, 303 Ken Kortas, 304 Ray Mansfield, 305 Bill Saul, 306 Steelers TL

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS: 307 Monk Bailey, 308 Bill Koman, 309 Ernie McMillan, 310 Dave Meggyesy, 311 Terry Nofsinger, 312 Johnny Roland, 313 Larry Stallings, 314 Abe Woodson, 315 Cardinals TL

SAN FRANCISCO 49ers: 316 Bob Harrison, 317 Jim Jackson, 318 Charlie Kreuger, 319 Dave McCormick, 320 George Mira, 321 Len Rhode, 322 Monte Stickles, 323 Dick Witcher, 324 49ers TL

WASHINGTON REDSKINS: 325 Charlie Gogolak, 326 Len Hauss, 327 Pat Hodgson, 328 Sam Huff, 329 Jake Kupp, 330 Joe Don Looney, 331 Dick Shiner, 332 Ron Snidow, 333 Redskins TL

1965 POST SEASON HIGHLIGHTS: 334 1965 Pro Bowl, 335 1965 Playoffs Colts/Cowboys 336, 1965 Playoffs Packers/Colts 337, 1965 NFL Championship Game, 338 Check List #3

Friday, November 23, 2018

Spotlight On: Harthorne Wingo

Topps basketball cards


In my 1970s basketball card collecting days, one player stood out because I thought he had the coolest name – Harthorne Wingo of the New York Knicks. Before making it with the Knicks, Harthorne played in the Harlem Rucker league then the Allentown Jets, a minor league team in the Eastern Professional Basketball League, which later to become the CBA.  The Jets had an arrangement with the Knicks where they sent players to Allentown for playing time and won 2 championships during Wingo’s time there (1970 and 1973).  At a pickup game in Greenwich Village, Wingo was discovered by a show-team called the Harlem Wizards, and toured locally with them until he got his break with the Knicks.

He joined the Knicks as was a valuable role player during his 4 years there, a time when the Knicks won their last championship in 1973.  He built a reputation as a great rebounder and defender at the power forward position.  However, when the Knicks acquired Haywood Spencer, he knew his days with the Knicks were numbered.

After the NBA, he played four years in Italy, then a year each in Switzerland and Argentina.  Though he had success overseas, a period of drug abuse and alcoholism followed his career and he was at loose ends.  "When I got out, I had nowhere to go," Wingo said. "They helped me when I was in there, but after I left, it was like nobody cared."  Teammate Dean Meminger refuted Wingo's charge. "We reached out for Wingy, and we sent him to rehab," he said. "But from there, it was his obligation to reach out and help himself, and to stay in touch with people like me, people who consider themselves his friends." “Wingy,” as he was called, never felt on the same level as his Knick teammates, all who were better players with college educations to fall back on.  Which is why he didn’t call on them when he needed help. 

Still a big Knicks fan, he occasionally sees ex-teammates and keeps a low profile, staying away from his old haunts that were bad influences on him. RetroCards has designed new custom cards to add to Hawthorne Wingo’s lone card of 1975. All are from forthcoming sets except a 1976 card available in a Knicks team set. Check it out here!

Thursday, November 15, 2018

1975 Cowboys: Young Talent Pays Off


After a disappointing 1974 season, where the Cowboys missed the playoffs, rebuilding seemed to be in order. The 1975 rookie class saw 12 hopefuls make the team in what was billed the "dirty dozen." Bob Lilly, Bob Hayes, Walt Garrison, Craig Morton, Cornell Green, and Dave Manders were all gone and new players such as Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Randy White, Thomas Henderson, Pat Donovan arrived. Other key additions were Preston Pearson and Danny White, who battled Jim Zorn and Clint Longley for the back up quarterback position to Roger Staubach.

The 1975 football card designs are the second year in a row to feature the color scheme of pink and avocado green, which matched perfectly with the Cowboys uniforms! But it was the 1970s, so at the time, it looked perfectly normal.

Included in this 18-card set are: Jim Arenson, Jean Fugett, Efren Hererra, Calvin Hill, Mitch Hoopes, Bill Houston, Ron Howard, Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Clint Longley, Harvey Martin, Dennis Morgan, Robert Newhouse, Preston Pearson, Jethro Pugh, Pat Toomay, Danny White, Jim Zorn, and a highlight card of Clint Longley's dramatic comeback performance over the Redskins on Thanksgiving. Get your set here!

Saturday, November 3, 2018

The Waltons: No Longer Playing “Hard To Get”

Topps 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. Fiscally challenged 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, the Baldwin Sisters, Ike Godsey, a young John Ritter as the Reverand, a wrapper card (from the original test set) and more! Get yours here!

Friday, October 26, 2018

Cowboys Get A "Hockey Makeover"

Topps 1971-72 hockey, NHL

From the mid 1960s through 1970, the Dallas Cowboys were the team that couldn’t win the big one. They finally did it following the 1971 season with Roger Staubach leading them to victory in Super Bowl VI. In a recent NFL Films episode from The Timeline, Staubach referred to this team as “Don Meredith’s team,” owing to the long journey of building the Cowboys into a winner from their humble beginnings as a 0–11–1 expansion team in 1960.

Key veterans were added for the Super Bowl run like Mike Ditka, Herb Adderley, Lance Alworth, Forrest Gregg, Gloster Richardson, and Lee Roy Caffey. The veterans added to a team of stars and strong role players that put the team over the top.

This special RetroCards design utilizes the 1971-72 Hockey design which has always been one of the more attractive and colorful designs of that decade. The bubble-like lettering and bright colors were designed to appeal to kids and all these years later they are reminders of a more innocent time. This Cowboys RetroCards 24-card set features: Herb Adderley, Lance Alworth, George Andrie, Mike Clark, Larry Cole, Mike Ditka, Walt Garrison, Cornell Green, Bob Hayes, Calvin Hill, Chuck Howley, Lee Roy Jordan, Bob Lilly, Dave Manders, Craig Morton, Ralph Neely, John Niland, Blaine Nye, Jethro Pugh, Mel Renfro, Roger Staubach, Duane Thomas, Ron Widby, and Rayfield Wright. Order here!

Friday, October 19, 2018

Kolchak: RetroCards Adds Series II



RetroCards revels in giving a little cardboard love to some of our most beloved sports stars and tv personalities. Kolchak: The Night Stalker, the obscure 1970s precursor to the X-Files, is one that we got several requests for and so RetroCards has obliged with a second series of 18 night stalking cards!

Darrin McGavin stars as Carl Kolchak, reporter for the INS (Independent News Service of Chicago) who has the uncanny knack for discovering paranormal phenomenon that is wreaking havoc on Chicago. Though the show only lasted one season (1974-75) it left a lasting impression on fans and aspiring filmmakers, as it is often cited as having been influential.

Series two picks up where series one left off: adding more episodes, more monsters, and popular guest stars. In this series you find Antonio Fargas, Erik Estrada, Barbara Rhodes, Joann Pflug, Larry Linville, Keenan Wynn, Jamie Farr, Tom Skerrit and more. This series offers an orange border that is in clear contrast to the green boarder of series one. Get your set here!

Check out series one.


Sunday, October 14, 2018

Spotlight On: Vince Papale

Topps, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1975
One of the fun things about being a sports fan is rooting for the underdog and one of the most famous underdogs was Philadelphia Eagle wide receiver Vince Papale. He was a 30-year-old rookie in 1976 with no college football experience. He made the team under coach Dick Vermeil and earned the nickname "Rocky" paralleling the Sylvester Stallone film character Rocky Balboa, which became a hit the same year.

Though much has been made by the fact he didn't play football in college (St. Joseph's University in the Philadelphia area) he was a superb athlete who attended St. Joseph's on a track scholarship where he had considerable success in the long jump, triple jump, and in pole vaulting.  In high school he lettered in football, basketball, and track and field.  After college Vince taught middle school for 6 years at his High School alma mater while working on his masters degree.  He also found time to be the track head coach, was an assistant high school football coach, AND was trying to qualify for the Olympics in the decathlon. Though he didn't qualify, he was goaded by his buddies into trying semi-pro football. He made the squad of the Aston Knights of the Seaboard League in 1973 and lead the league in touchdown receptions.

The newly formed World Football League put several semi-pro leagues out of business but that didn't stop Papale. Hugh Wyatt, the Player Personnel Director of the Philadelphia Bell, brought Vince in for a free-agent tryout with 1,000 other hopefuls. Only Vince and Dennis Lozzi of Notre Dame (who Vince referred to as "the original Rudy" in a radio interview) were signed from that tryout.

Though the WFL only lasted a year and half, Vince was a serviceable receiver mainly in a backup roll.  After the WFL folded Vince spent time as a substitute teacher and bar tender, while he prepared to go back and resume his teaching position at his alma mater Interboro High School in suburban Philadelphia. At this juncture he was invited to a free agent try out with the Eagles. The talk of his all-out hustle was not just talk and he made cut after cut, eventually co-leading the Eagles in pre-season receptions in 1976.

He played mainly on special teams where he became Special Teams Captain, and became a role model for other players as well as fans.  The inspiring coach Dick Vermeil made the Eagles winners after years of futility and Vince became a life-long friend of Vermeil. A separated shoulder at the end of pre-season in 1979 saw him spend the first half of that season on the injured reserve after which he retired. 
   
The 2006 film Invincible starring Mark Wahlberg depicts the uplifting story of Vince Papale and he continues to motivate and inspire with speaking engagements and personal appearances.RetroCards is proud to offer 5 Eagles cards featuring Vince Papale. The sixth card is a WFL card of him which is yet to be produced - but will be! Get your Invincible cards here!

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Spotlight On: Rocky Bleier

Topps football, baseball cards


Few players have overcome the obstacles that Rocky Bleier did to make it in the NFL. Born in Appleton, Wisconsin, and a member of the 1966 University of Notre Dame Championship team, Rocky was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1968. After his rookie season, he was drafted by the U.S. Army.


He volunteered for duty in South Vietnam and arrived in early 1969. Wounded by a bullet to the thigh and grenade shrapnel in his right leg (causing him to lose a part of his foot), he was told he would never play football again. While rehabbing in Tokyo from shrapnel and bullet wounds, Steelers founder Art Rooney sent him a letter . “Rock- the team’s not doing well. We need you. Art Rooney.” 


After several surgeries, he went back to the Steelers in 1970 to workout. He couldn’t walk without being in pain, and weighed only 180 pounds. He was put on injured reserve for the 1970 season, but returned in 1971 and played on special teams. He spent several seasons trying to get increased playing time, and was waived on two occasions. But Bleier never gave up. By the summer of 1974 he was in shape and earned a starting position. Though Franco Harris was the featured back, Bleier still contributed to Pittsburgh’s powerful running game and gained 1,036 yards in 1976. His inspirational story, work ethic, and role playing were keys to the four Pittsburgh Steeler Super Bowl victories during his time there.


RetroCards has a couple of new cards featuring Rocky: two from 1979 (a Super Bowl XIII Highlight and a Unsung Heroes card, plus some other customs that never existed. Look for those in forthcoming Pittsburgh Steeler Retrocard team sets!


Friday, September 28, 2018

Frank Clarke: Original Cowboy


The passing of NFL receiver Frank Clarke called to mind some of the old players who have graciously autographed RetroCards or have asked for a stack of RetroCards because no cards had never been made of them.  One of the reasons RetroCards came to be is to create cards for some of the forgotten players or players that had fans but no cards for the fans to collect. 

Frank Clarke was in correspondence with RetroCards after we sent a few cards for him to sign. Any good autograph seeker always slips the athlete a few bucks if one is asking for an autograph by mail and that’s what we did when sending Mr. Clarke some of our original cards to sign. Here is his reply.

Dear RetroCards,
Thank you for the honor of signing these cards....and for the check. With all due respect I am returning your check. Pretty good lookin' dude on that card, huh? No wonder he ran so fast....didn't want anybody to mar that handsome face with an opponents helmet or fist to the face. I'm sure you [at RetroCards] are wonderful people. I'm inspired to be also.  Take care,
Frank.

Originally from Wisconsin, Frank went to the University of Colorado and was the first black varsity player and his play there got him inducted into the Colorado Athletic Hall of Fame.  Drafted by the Cleveland Browns in 1957 and only caught 10 passes in three seasons before being left unprotected in the 1960 expansion draft.  The Cowboys snagged him and he soon became the team’s deep threat. In eight seasons he caught 281 passes for 5,214 yards and 51 touchdowns and held the team record for most touchdowns in a season (14) until it was broken by Terrell Owens 45 years later in 2007. He became a sportscaster after his career and eventually went into childcare fulltime.

Frank died July 25, 2018 and it struck a chord with many Cowboy fans.  As one of the old gentlemen of the 1960s Dallas Cowboys, he will be remembered as one of the first Cowboys stars. Check RetroCards.net for many Frank Clarke cards.

Friday, September 21, 2018

1961 Fleer: AFL Series 3

Topps

RetroCards' special attention to the 1961 Fleer football set continues with another 24 cards, this time featuring AFL players. The set starts off with an 1960 AFL Championship card and continues with a few cards from each AFL team (with the exception of the Dallas Texans who have a RetroCards 18 card team set).

Player in this set include: Houston Antwine, Charley Hennigan, Ernie Ladd, Wahoo McDaniel, Charley Powell, Dave Kokourec, Art Powell, Gino Cappelletti, Earl Faison, Harold Olson, Tal Niko, Dick Harris, Dick Guesman, Bob Talimani, John Harris, Richie McCabe, Claude King, Babe Parilli, Fred "the hammer" Williamson, Gene Mingo, Chuck McMurtry, and Laverne "tarzan" Torczon.  Order here!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Burt Reynolds: American Good Ol' Boy

Topps 1974, 1977, 1983, 1970

In what Rolling Stone magazine called “the last good ol’ boy movie star, Burt Reynolds not only had mega-star quality, but a varied film career that was a roller coaster of goods, bads, and what might have beens. Punctuated by high profile romances and investments in football teams and race cars, Reynolds was one of America's most recognized celebrities.

Before the acting bug hit, he attended Florida State University on a football scholarship and had visions of playing professionally. But after injuring his knee in the first game of his sophomore season, having his spleen removed, and injuring the other knee in a car accident, he decided to give up the game - on the field that is. In front of the camera was another story.

Known first to mainstream audiences as Quint Asper on the popular TV show Gunsmoke in 1962. He soon got other roles, the most significant being the lead on the TV show Hawk (1966-67). After appearing in several films he landed the lead role in the TV show Dan August, a Quinn Martin Production.  After that was cancelled, he got his lucky break appearing in the film Deliverance, which made him a star.  During this time he posed semi-nude for a 1972 issue of Cosmopolitan and started a relationship with older actress Dinah Shore. 

He then did a series of hits including the football movies The Longest Yard (1974) and Semi-Tough (1977), in-between which he scored with Smokey and the Bandit (1977) and directed Gator (1976).  Other car chase films followed like Smokey and the Bandit II, The Cannonball Run, and Stroker Ace, while The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas and Best Friends kept him as one of the top grossing stars annually. 

After a long-term relationship with Sally Field he became a minority owner of the USFL’s Tampa Bay Bandits and co-owned a NASCAR Winston Cup team, Mach 1 Racing.  His courting, marriage, and subsequent divorce of Loni Anderson kept him in the headlines when his film career was in decline.

Reynolds left behind a formidable portfolio of work that still entertains. RetroCards offers up some cards that never were of this good ol’ boy. Rest in peace, Burt.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

1961 Fleer: Series Two!

Topps, NFL 1961 AFL

The 1961 Fleer RetroCards series continues with s second set of NFL players. This set features 24 more NFL players who didn't have cards in the 1961 Fleer set: John Wooten, King Hill, Joe Perry, Vince Promuto, John Gonzaga, Jim Marshall, Dick Nolan, Dave "Deacon" Jones, Norm Snead, J.D. Smith, Billy Ray Smith, Ernie McMillan, Red Mack, Lenny Lyles, John Baker, Len Dawson, Pat Summerall, Mel Triplett, Alex Karras, Billy Kilmer, Palmer Pyle, Danny Villanueva, and Lou "the Toe" Groza.

This set will be out soon so check back for availability and for the preview of the RetroCards 1961 Fleer series three featuring 24 new cards of AFL players. Order here!

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Charley Powell: The Best Athlete You've Never Heard Of

Topps, Fleer, football cards, Jerry Powell, Art Powell, Harlem Globetrotters,


One of the greatest unknown athletes of the 20th century is a guy almost no one has ever heard of. Name one athlete who played professional football, baseball, and boxed professionally. This person also turned down an offer to play with the Harlem Globetrotters as well as offers from UCLA and Notre Dame. His name is Charley Powell.

RetroCards is featuring this somewhat obscure athlete with the intent of showcase his amazing highlight of being a multi-sport athlete. First of all, he may be best known as the older brother of American Football League star Art Powell, who was one of the AFL’s top receivers in the 1960s (his other brother Jerry played in the WFL for the Hawaiians). Charley’s career, however, was far more diverse. Here is a quick timeline of his achievements.

1940s  Boxed as a teen to help support his family.
1947-1950  Won 12 varsity letters. Ran the 100-yard dash in 9.6 seconds, high jumped 6 feet, and put the shot 57 feet 9–1/4 inches.
1950  Named Southern California Prep Player of the Year.
1950  Turned down football scholarship offers from UCLA and Notre Dame.
1951  Turned down an offer to play with the Harlem Globetrotters.
1951  Signed with Cleveland Indians minor league team the Stockton Ports.
1952  Signed with the San Francisco 49ers as the youngest player to ever play in the NFL at the age of 19.
1952  In his 1st game (vs. the Champion Detroit Lions) he sacked quarterback Bobby Layne 10 times.
1950s He and Hall of Famer Joe Perry were the only black players on the 49ers and sometimes had to stay in different hotels than their white teammates.
1954  Took a year off from the 49ers to box full time. 
1955  Rejoined 49ers and played through the 1957 season.
1958  Beat Charlie Norkus in a boxing rematch.
1959  Knocked out the #2 ranked heavyweight boxer in the world, Cuban Nino Valdes Nino.
1960  Signed by the San Diego Chargers and traded to the Raiders.
1960  Joined Oakland Raiders, playing defensive end, playing 2 seasons.
1963  Lost to Cassius Clay (later called Muhammad Ali) in Pittsburgh before 17,000 fans.
1964  Was paid $10,000 to fight Floyd Patterson, to whom he lost in six.
1965  Finished with a boxing record of 25-11-3 (19 KOs).

It’s been discussed that his full potential in any one sport may have been marred by spreading his talents over several sports; a jack of all trades, master of none. Had he focused on one sport, he may be a well-known name today. RetroCards honors this great athlete with a new 1961 Fleer card from the forth coming 1961series three set. Look for it soon!

Thursday, August 23, 2018

1961 Dallas Cowboys: How Could They Get Worse?


After their inaugural 1960 season where the Dallas Cowboys posted a 0–11–1 record, expectation were not high. Of course it would be hard do to worse than their first season, but Tom Landry had much work to do. Though he installed a defense (the flex) the team had a hard time adopting and even understanding, the Cowboys pressed on winning three of their first four games in 1961. The league quickly caught up with them but some stars were starting to shine.

Don Perkins, who missed all of 1960 with a broken ankle rushed for 815 yards.  Eddie LeBaron made a Pro Bowler out of Billy Howton and young receiver developed into a deep threat. On the defensive side, Chuck Howley regained his speed after an injury that forced him to retire after 1959 and rookie Bob Lilly showed signs of stardom. Quarterback Don Meredith was still developing and helped the Cowboys to at 4–9–1 season.

This 18-card set includes: Gene Babb, Dick Bielski, Frank Clarke, Mike Connelly, Jim Harris, Don Healy, Bill Herchman, John Houser, Chuck Howley, Bill Howton, Eddie LeBaron, Bob Lilly, Warren Livingston, Amos Marsh, Don Meredith, Dick Moegle, Don Perkins, and Jerry Tubbs. Get it here!

Friday, August 17, 2018

Pete Gent: Author, Cynic, and All-Around Good Receiver

Topps, New York Giants, Don Meredith

Pete Gent is rightly remembered for his hard-edge novel North Dallas Forty, a book about how pro football teams exploited their players, which is based on his experiences with the Cowboys. His colorful demeanor clashed with head coach Tom Landry's and GM Tex Schramm's old-school ways but he managed to be a productive member on the team from 1964-1968 in spite of that.

Credit the Cowboys for asking Big Ten basketball coaches for players that might make it in the NFL. At the bottom of the list was Gent who Cowboy's scout Gil Brandt went to visit at Michigan State. Brandt saw him as a defensive back and signed him. The only trouble was Gent had no talent for playing defense. He was able to catch passes however, and the Cowboys kept him as the sixth receiver, cutting quarterback Sonny Gibbs to make room for him.

Gent came to the Cowboys as a fairly mild-mannered non-drinker and non-smoker. He hung with Dave Manders and Frank Clarke and their families and attended SMU Law School at night.  But by the second training camp in 1965, he roomed with Don Talbert, one of the four "Varmint Brothers," and his life was never the same afterward (that story is for a different blog post). In spite of his cynicism and non-conformity, Gent was a solid contributor for five years though injuries often slowed him down. Through his friendship with Frank Gifford, he got a tryout with the New York Giants but Gent, who by this time was insufferable and uncoachable, wore his welcome out quickly in New York and found himself a civilian in 1969.

His first novel North Dallas Forty came out in 1973 and the film of the same name in 1979.  The two main characters were based largely on himself and Don Meredith. He died from a pulmonary disease in 2011. Surprisingly, Gent never had a card so RetroCards has righted that wrong with new custom cards of old number 35. You'll find them in several Cowboys teams sets at RetroCards.net.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Jerry Kramer: You Can If You Will


I'm not sure how many more old school players will make it into the Hall of Fame while they are still with us, but football fans were treated to a beautiful acceptance speech by Jerry Kramer at the August 2018 Hall of Fame Induction.

He summed up by saying, "The only thing left at this time is for you to lead a life of quality and excellence and make this old world a little better place because you were in it.  You Can If You Will."  Watch the whole speech here..

Thursday, July 26, 2018

1961: Expanding Fleer's Only NFL Set

Topps

In 1961 Fleer issued a football set including both NFL and AFL players.  This was the only year that both Topps and Fleer released a set with players from both leagues.  In 1962 and 1963 Fleer would focus their sets on AFL players before getting the NFL contract for 1964-1967.  The original 1961 Fleer set is a lovely looking set that is clean and backed with minimal bio information on the backs.  At 220 cards covering both leagues, several key players didn’t have a card issued in this set which is where RetroCards comes in.

In the first of several series, this set adds 24 more cards featuring NFL players.  RetroCards has already produced team sets of the Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears, and Dallas Texas.  As per usual, these team sets feature players who didn’t have cards in the regular 1961 Fleer set and the new series, which covers the rest of the teams in the NFL and AFL, follow suit.

Players in series one include: Timmy Brown, Buddy Dial, Fran Tarkenton, Lamar Lundy, John Morrow, George Izo, Johnny Sample, Karl Rubke, Don Chandler, R.C. Owens, Pat Studstill, Jimmy Hill, Sonny Jurgensen, Mike McCormack, Joe Lewis, Dan Colchico, Dick James, Zeke Bratkowski, Terry Nosfinger, and Frank Gifford. Additional cards feature the NFL Championship, NFL Pro Bowl, NFL Playoff Bowl, and a wrapper card. Order here!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

1963 Steelers: Not Pretty, But Respectable

1963 Topps football cards

The Steelers surprised many fans by posting a 9-5 record in 1962.  Bobby Layne ended his career as the NFL all-time leader in touchdowns as he led the Steelers to three straight wins at the end of the season to take second place in the Eastern Conference.  John Henry Johnson, Ernie Stautner, and Big Daddy Lipscomb, though aging, came through with tough performances and Buddy Dial was now a top receiver

By 1963, the Steelers were still holding steady thanks to a league-leading three tie games to give them a 7-4-3 record.  RetroCards offers custom collectors an additional 18 cards of players that did not appear on a card back in 1963.  Players include: John Baker, George Tarasovic, John Reger, Ron Stenhouwer, Gary Ballman, Jim Bradshaw, Mike Sandusky, Joe Krupa, Clendon Thomas, Brady Keys, Bob Schmitz, Charlie Bradshaw, Harlon Hill, Myron Pottios, Terry Nofsinger, Dan James, John Powers, and Tom Tracy.  Coming soon!

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Super Gnat: NFL's Reggie Smith

Topps, football cards, baseball cards, Smallest player, shortest player

Small athletes in professional sports always seem to grab attention.  Tyrone “Muggsy” Bougues and Spud Webb were regularly featured in magazines and articles due to being very short basketball players.  Both had long careers and the novelty of a short basketball player always drew laughs.  The most famous short athlete has to be Eddie Gaedel of the St. Louis Browns who at 3’ 7” was the subject of one of the strangest stunts in professional sports.

Though he would probably prefer to be remembered more for his playing than his height, wide receiver and kick returner Reggie Smith played parts of three seasons in the NFL and one more in the USFL.  He also made a name for himself in the Arena Football League, for which he was ultimately inducted into the Arena Football Hall of Fame for his considerable efforts.

At 5’4” Smith has been the shortest player to appear in an NFL game.  A kick returner for the Falcons in 1980-1981, he was one of the league leaders in yardage (1,143 in 1981), he made a big impact with the Washington Federals in 1983, taking the leagues first kickoff and returning it 30 yards.  He had a big first game against the Chicago Blitz (5 kick returns for 81 yards, 6 catches for 87 yards) but went down with an injury and was lost for the season.

He was known as “super gnat” as he explains, “My sister’s boyfriend gave me that name when I was in high school, I wasn’t the first to have it, though. I got if from Nolan [sic] (Super Gnat) Smith, who ran back kicks for the Chiefs about 10 years ago. He was my hero for a while”  (Dave Remnick, The Washington Post, February 4, 1983).

Noland Smith, a similar type player from the era before Reggie Smith came to the NFL,  was 5’5” and did have a brief but productive career with the Chiefs in 1967-1969.  He led the AFL in kick return average, yardage, and touchdowns in 1967.  The diminutive Chief was also unique for wearing the number 1 on his jersey.  Lifetime, his 10.1 yards per punt return and 26.1 yards per kick return are impressive but he could extend his career past three years.

RetroCards adds some stature to these pint-sized players.  Look for these custom cards in future RetroCard sets!

Thursday, July 5, 2018

1957 Braves: Milwaukee's Only Championship

Topps baseball vintage cards  1957
Books have been written about Milwaukee’s love affair with the Braves and the heartbreak the city went through when they left for Atlanta in 1966.  The arrival of the Milwaukee Brewers in 1970 quelled the pain but there is still a very special spot in the hearts of many Wisconsinites for their Braves.  Milwaukee’s only World Series Victory came in 1957, when they toppled the mighty New York Yankees and RetroCards fittingly has chosen the ’57 Braves as their first Baseball set with a special 20-card collection.

New cards in the 1957 baseball style include Jack Dittmer, Red Schoendienst, Nippy Jones, Bob “Hurricane” Hazle, Joey Jay, Mel Roach, Hawk Taylor, Toby Atwell, Harry Hanebrink, Carl Sawatski, Bob Trowbridge, and Fred Haney.  There is also a special card for radio announcer Earl Gillespie sporting a Braves uniform!  Other highlight cards feature World Series moments including Hank Aaron’s home run that clinched the pennant, The Shoe Polish Incident, Lew Burdette MVP, Bushville Wins, 1957 Champions Team Card, Braves Celebrate, and a special “wax pack wrapper” card with checklist.  Get your set here!

Friday, June 29, 2018

1963 Packers: At Their Peak

Topps football cards 1963 nil

Coming off the greatest season Vince Lombardi would every coach, the Packers found going for the 3rd straight title difficult.  The eventual champion Chicago Bears handed the Packers their only loses of the season and one tie versus the lowly Detroit Lions gave them a final record of 11-2-1.  The loss of Paul Hornung for the entire season due to gambling issues certainly took away one of the Packers most potent offensive weapons.  As a matter of fact, because of the suspension Hornung was not issued a card for that year, nor was Alex Karras of the Lions, who was also suspended for the entire season.

This custom 1963 Packer set reinstates the "Golden Boy" and offers 17 other Packer RetroCards who were absent from the regular set that year.  Zeke Bratkowski, Jerry Kramer, Hank Gremminger, Tom Moore, Ron Kostelnik, Bobby Jeter, Dan Currie, Willie Davis, Dave Robinson, Bob Skoronski, Jess Whittenton, Dave Hanner, Ken Iman, Norm Masters, Elijah Pitts, Marv Fleming, and Earl Gros are the subject of this attractive set.  Get it here!

Friday, June 22, 2018

Chuck Howley: Right Place, Right Time

Topps, Philadelphia cards, 1965 tallboys
Great defensive players seem to know how to be in the right place at the right time on the football field.  Chuck Howley had that special intuition and his knack for anticipation mixed with his speed made him indispensable on the Cowboys first Doomsday Defense.  One of the great play makers of his day, Chuck Howley played in 191 games over 15 seasons.  He was a seven-time All-Pro, a six-time Pro Bowler and has the dubious distinction of being the only Super Bowl MVP chosen from a losing team. Strangely, he is not in the NFL Hall Of Fame and is on a short list of players from his era who should be in the Hall.

A five-sport athlete at West Virginia, he was the 7th player taken in the 1958 draft by the Chicago Bears.  In 1959 he badly hurt his knee and retired.  By 1961, Cowboy coach Tom Landry caught wind of Howley’s recovery and took a gamble, trading a 2nd and 9th pick to obtain him. The gamble quickly paid off and Howley was an instant starter in 1961, missing only 4 games in the next 12 seasons. His speed was ideal for the weak side linebacker position but he was so athletic, he could play the strong side, cover speedy receivers, and rush the quarterback.

The Cowboys finally made it to the Super Bowl after the 1970 season and although the Cowboys lost a game they should have won, Howley managed to win the MVP award in what was labelled as the “Blunder Bowl.” Howley explained, “It was one of those kind of games when I was in the right place at the right time, all the time.  Even when I made mistakes and was out of position, I was in the right place.” He was in consideration for a consecutive MVP for Super Bowl VI but that prize went to the venerable Roger Staubach.

As his career wound down, so did the old Cowboy regime.  He retired after the 1972 season but Tom Landry convinced him to join the taxi squad in 1973 to mentor some of the young linebackers and retired for the third time at the end of the 1973 season.

His exclusion in the Pro Football Hall of Fame is troubling but he is one of several fine players from the 1960s and 1970s that RetroCards will be featuring over time.  Check out Chuck Howley RetroCards that can be found in many Dallas Cowboys team sets.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

1963 Eagles: No Escaping The Cellar

Topps 1963 football cards

The 10-4 record of 1961 showed that their 1960 Championship was no fluke.  But by 1962, the franchise had dipped to last place in the Eastern Conference with a 3-10 record.  Injuries decimated the offense as Sonny Jurgensen struggled with the separated shoulder he suffered in the prior season's Playoff Bowl.  Receivers Pete Retzlaff, Bobby Walston , and Dick Lucas all sustained broken arms and Howard "Hopalong" Cassidy, acquired to bolster the receiving corps, when down with a broken leg. Ted Dean's broken foot crippled the offense further.  Timmy Brown and Tommy McDonald continued to thrill, but the Eagles still lost the final nine games.  1963 started with QBs Jurgensen and King Hill staging a joint holdout for more money leaving the team in a state of low morale as they stumbled to a 2-10-2 record in 1963.

This RetroCard set is expanded to include some key players on this underachieving team: Don Burroughs, Ted Dean, Howard Keys, Dick Lucas, Ray Mansfield, Jerry Mazzanti, Mike McClellan, George McKinney, Bill Quinlan, Nate Ramsey, Bobby Richards, Theron Sapp, Ben Scotti, Jim Schrader, Jim Skaggs, J.D. Smith, and John Wittenborn.  Coming Soon!

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Tribute To Al McGuire: Series Two

Topps basketball

Part two of the spotlight on Al McGuire focuses on some of his contributions as an announcer and his knack for inventing new words and phrases for the sport of basketball.  His teams compiled an 295-80 record during his tenure at Marquette but many remember him for his back and forth banter with Billy Packer and Dick Enberg.  Some of his most memorable “McGuire-isms” are:

• air craft carrier – big man in the middle
• congratulate the temporary – live for the moment
• carnival gates are closed – the game is over
• white knuckled – close game
• french pastry – a showy move
• tailenders – walk on players
• cracked sidewalks – bad side of town
• dance hall player – short on talent, big on effort
• seashells and balloons – victory and happiness
• cloud piercer – a good jumping player

‘’I enjoyed only the game. I hated practice, recruiting, administration. Too many memos.’’  This was one of his quotes explaining the surprising retirement.  He announced the retirement in December of 1976 and Marquette struggled to make it into the tournament.  Once there, they played some of their best ball and completed a season only Hollywood could have written.  

A short list of Coach McGuires accomplishments:

• AP Coach of the Year 1971
• UPI Coach of the Year 1971
• USBWA Coach of the Year 1971
• NABC Coach of the Year 1974
• NCAA Champion 1977
• Regional Championships – Final Four 1974, 1977
• Pro basketball Hall of Fame

Series one focused on the earlier part of McGuires years at Marquette, while series two focuses on the glory days of 1973-1977.  Players in series tow include: Jim Boylan, Earl Tatum, Bo Ellis, Jerome Whitehead, Butch Lee, Lloyd Walton, Bernard Toone, Gary Rosenberger, and Ulice Payne.  Five more cards depict the Championship run of 1977 plus a coaching card featuring McGuire and assistant coaches Hank Raymonds and Rick Majerus. Coming soon!