Thursday, January 31, 2019

Spotlight On: Johnny Robinson

Topps, Philadelphi football cards

Kansas City Chiefs great Johnny Robinson has been selected as a Senior Finalist in the 2019 Pro Football Hall Of Fame class. Thought by many to be long over due, the former AFL star may be joining other Chiefs from that era that include linebackers Bobby Bell and Willie Lanier, defensive tackles Buck Buchanan and Curley Culp and cornerback Emmitt Thomas. Quarterback Len Dawson, kicker Jan Stenerud, coach Hank Stram and founder Lamar Hunt are the other Chiefs figures already enshrined.

His talents may have gone to waste early in his career as a Dallas Texan where he was originally used on offense running and catching the ball. On offense he tallied 1886 yards total yards and 15 touchdowns. Thankfully, he was moved to defensive back where he racked up seven All-Star game trips and 57 interceptions between 1962 and 1971.

The fact that Robinson was jilted six times as a finalist in the 1980s, is a “disgrace,” as former head coach Hank Stram once put it. Back then, though, there remained some conflict about how to process the AFL years, some backlash against it and a perception that too many Chiefs on that defense already had been honored. Robinson’s interception totals are impressive with 57 interceptions over 10 years at the safety position. But since the AFL was a “pass-crazy” league where the passing and receiving numbers are gaudy, so too are the interception totals as compared with the more run-oriented NFL during the same time period.  But teammate and Hall of Famer Bobby Bell says, “he was like a quarterback back there, and a coach. He put us all in the right places.”

Here are some highlight from his brilliant career:

• Named All Pro eight times
• One of only 20 players who were in the AFL for the its entire 10 year run
• Member of a Chiefs team that won three division titles and one Super Bowl
• Played with three broken ribs in Super Bowl IV vs. the Vikings
• Had a pivotal pickoff against Buffalo in the 1966 AFL title game, returning a Jack Kemp pass 72 yards
• Member of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame
• Named to the AFL’s All-Time Team
• Chiefs had a 35-1-1 record in games where he intercepted a pass

Look for these RetroCards in current and upcoming sets.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Stan Mikita: Master Of the Game

Topps, O-Pe-Chee

The three-part post of “Those We Have Lost in 2018” attracted lots of attention, due to the large number of deaths last year. Though we covered quite a few people, there was a noticeable omission that was brought to our attention. Stan Mikita, arguably the greatest player in Chicago Blackhawks history, had passed last year and was on my list to include, but was accidentally missed. 

In 21 seasons, "Stosh" set franchise records that still stand with 1,396 regular-season games, 1,467 points, 926 assists and a plus-329 rating. His 541 goals rank second behind his junior hockey and Hawks teammate Bobby Hull’s 604. Bobby Hull has said of Mikita, “Pound for pound Stan had to be one of the greatest who ever played, and he was a player who always came to play.”

The 20-year-old Mikita and 22-year-old Hull led the Blackhawks to the 1961 Stanley Cup championship, Mikita scored six goals and led all players in the playoffs with 15 assists and 21 points in 12 games.

Here are a partial list of Stan’s achievements:

• Ranked 14th all-time in points, 18th in assists, 31st in goals, and 40th in games played (at end of 2017-18 
  NHL season)
• Won the Hart Memorial Trophy as MVP in 1967 and 1968
• Won the Art Ross Trophy as leading scorer in 1964, 1965, 1967, and 1968
• Won the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy in 1967 and 1968
• Stanley Cup champion (1961)
• Named to the NHL’s First All-Star Team in 1962, 1963, 1964, 1966, 1967, and 1968
• Named to the NHL’s Second All-Star Team in 1965 and 1970.
• Played in NHL All-Star Game in 1964, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, and 1975
• Won the Lester Patrick Trophy in 1976
• The only player in NHL history to win the Hart, Art Ross, and Lady Byng trophies in the same season, 
  doing so in consecutive seasons, in 1966–67 and 1967–68
• Was named to Team Canada for the 1972 Summit Series, but only played two games due to injuries
• In 1998, he was ranked number 17 on The Hockey News’ list of the 100 greatest NHL players
• The Blackhawks retired #21 on October 19, 1980; Mikita was the first Blackhawks’ player to have his 
  number retired
• Mikita was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1983
• The ice rink in Ru┼żomberok, Slovakia, is named after him
• In 2011, statues of Mikita and Bobby Hull were installed outside the United Center, where the Blackhawks 
  currently play
• Mikita and teammate Bobby Hull are credited with inventing the curved stick
• He also was an exceptional golfer. 

Mikita was offered $1.5 million over five years to play for the Chicago Cougars of the World Hockey Association — much more money than he was making in the NHL — but he accepted what he described as “a nice raise” and stayed with the Black Hawks.

“He was more prepared than anybody I ever played with,” said Dale Tallon, executive vice president and general manager of the Florida Panthers, remembering the seasons they spent together skating for the Blackhawks from 1973-74 to 1977-78. “His preparation was impeccable. His style of play was unique. He had great skills and drive and passion. He was hardworking. He was unselfish.”

In 2015 he was diagnosed with Lewy body dementia, a progressive disease with symptoms similar to those of Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s. He passed on August 7, 2018 at the age of 78. He is survived by his wife, Jill, and their four children, Meg, Scott, Jane and Christopher.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

1961 Fleer: Series Four

Series four of RetroCards Fleer 1961 Football cards continues with 24 more NFL players. Series one and two each had 24 players and series three focuses on AFL players.  This is the fourth in five series of this cool and clean-looking sixties set.

Player in this set include: Willie West, Bob Boyd, Bob Waters, Ed, Meador, Dick James, Ray Wietcha, Mike Henry, Mike Rabold, Marion Campbell, Ed Culpepper, Dick Moegle, Frank Varrichoine, George Preas, Gene Hickerson, Jim Katcavage, Clendon Thomas, C.R. Roberts, Bert Rechichar, Charles Sumner, Larry Wilson, Andy Nelson, Andy Stynchula, John Whittenborn, and Jim Ray Smith. This set is coming soon!

Series Five will be next so check back often!

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

2018: Those We've Lost, Part Three

RetroCards' tribute continues with a final post with Part Three of Those We Lost in 2018. Some of these cards you see here have already been released in team sets, while others are yet to come.  Here are the honorees for part two: 

Sports figures we lost in 2018: Isaiah Robertson, Bob Barton, Ron Thomas, Ray Kubala, Dwight Clark, Warren Wells, Oscar Gamble, Dennis Claridge, Jim Wiste, Tony Cloninger, Bobby Walden, Kurt Walker, Wayne Krenchicki, John McKenzie, Don Testerman, Gabe Rivera, Jack Patera, Art Williams, Marty Pattin, Roy White, Ron Johnson, Ed Charles, Dan Grimm, Paul, Naumoff, Wes Hopkins, Tim Rossovich, John Hill, Doc Edwards, Jim Houston.  TV & Pop Culture figures we lost in 2018: President George H.W. Bush, Harry Anderson, Katherine Macgregor.

We didn't get them all, but sympathies go out to family and friends of our fallen heroes. See the stars and the obscure at