Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Hockey-ween MASKS ...

Nothing says holloween like a good mask. And the new release from ITG (In The Game) retro set of 1972 - The Year In Hockey says it better than most.

All safety aside, in those days the masks were just cool pieces of art. The subset of MASKED MEN from the Canadian card maker (who do not have an NHL license) is pure joy.

Those companies with NHL license should take a lesson. In fact, they should be frightened !

HAPPY HOLLOWEEN to card collectors ...

and to all a ghoul night ...
May your plastic pumpkin contain packs.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Tale of Two Doctors ...

There is a fine storyline in the film "Field of Dreams" where a young ball player grows up to be a doctor. The interesting thing is the character - Archibald "Moonlight" Graham - was a real ball player and a real doctor (1 game -1905 N.Y. Giants).

In the more modern era of professional baseball, along came Bobby Brown of the New York Yankees. He appeared in 4 World Series with the "Bronx Bombers".

After his playing career, Brown took up as a cardiology doctor until the 1980's, when he returned to baseball. He left his Texas practice to join the Rangers organization. He then succeeded to the American League Presidency which he served from 1984 to 1992.

Giovanni "Johnny" Berardino was a major leaguer from 1939 to 1953. A shortstop for the St. Louis Brown and Pittsburgh Pirates. He also won a World Series with the 1948 Cleveland Indians.

After his playing days, Berardino honed his acting skills. As the old commerical said - "I am not a doctor, but I play one on TV."
Among other film and TV stints, John became a household name as Dr. Steve Hardy on the soap opera General Hospitol. The memorable character earned him a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Indians With Sticks ...

If you follow this blog, then you are well aware that I relish cardboard with Indians - or what is accepted as Native Americans.

I also love the fastest team sport on ice - hockey. So when you get a chance to combine the two ...
it should be something special. Well ... not always, but when the NHL announced in 1972 that Kansas City would get a franchise - they went with the Western theme of an indian. Much like the history of our Native Americans, it did not work out so well.

The Kansas City Scouts lasted until 1976 when they moved to Colorado to become the Rockies - which didn't work out so well ... and they moved to New Jersey to become the Devils.

That didn't start out so well either, but has progressed to some great success.

The club was originally to be called the Mohawks, but protest by the Chicago Blackhawks franchise prompted the change to Scouts - named after the Kansas City Scout statue that overlooks the Missouri city.

So while it could have been a better indian logo, it is a tribute to the concrete Native.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Four Faces of the Flu ...

I have been fighting it most of the week ... but the symptoms have the better of me ...

One minute I feel good, the next - I'm mean as all get out.

But this virus will not be passed on here ... so I leave you with something naughty, nice and near and dear to my collection ...

One of my favorite characters from XENA: Warrior Princess - the evil, the sexy, the irrepressible - CALLISTO.

Alas ... I hope I feel better soon.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Throwback to Football ... Black History

I have all but refrained from buying any other sports cards except hockey and soccer. But a recent internet search brought me across some vintage football.

In as much I love the history behind the cards as well as the subject, this 1951 Bowman card of Paul "Tank" Younger was too good to pass up. (coming to me for less that $7.00)

One read from the back of the card one can understand how significant Younger was to football history. The added bonus is that he was part of a great 1951 Los Angeles Rams' NFL Championship team.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Octoberfest Hockey Contest ...

We had a tradition every year to watch a certain film at a certain time of year. Like some people watch the Wizard of Oz or Rudolf the Red-Nose Raindeer or Its A Wonderful Life - we would gather around to view our personal copy of the Canadian classic - The Adventures of Doug and Bob McKenzie: STRANGE BEW.

The story of everything Canadian - from a stereotypical view - beer drinking, hockey-loving, people from the Great White North ending every sentence with, eh ?

Well that time is here as this comedy farce tracks the mishaps of the McKenzie brothers - Doug & Bob - who need to get jobs and end up at the local brewery just in time for Octoberfest - I present these 1972-73 custom hockey cards.

I will refrain from giving away more of the film except to say I recommend it - with beer - and a hockey chaser.

I have created these two custom cards in honor of our friends at Cards on Ice - who are running a contest. Giving away some ITG 1972 hockey cards.

As a tribute to the fellow blogers and Octoberfest and 1972 hockey ... enjoy these cards, eh ?
Here is the original trailer - STRANGE BREW
Rooo-cooo-cooo-cooo-coooo !

Friday, October 16, 2009

It Was 20 Years Ago Today ...

WAYNE GRETZKY showed the world how to play hockey. On October 15, 1989 - the Los Angeles Kings' center scored one and assisted on two goals against his former team - the Edmonton Oilers. He broke the 20 year record held by Gordie Howe. Howe surpassed the legenday Maurice "Rocket" Richard in 1960 as the NHL's all-time point leader.
In the cardboard universe, very few have graced the hobby on as many cards as "The Great One" - Wayne Gretzky.
One reason Gretzky appeared on so many cards was that he was consistantly in the scoring leaders, records and awards featured in the sets (see above). Combine this with the glut of card manufactorers in the 1990's and the appetite of duel marketing (of Topps and O-Pee-Chee) for Canada and US - you have a landmark achivement which may never be surpassed.
To this date, Wayne appears on over 2,000 different cards !

Gretzky was a marketing dream for food, toy and other products. A close look at his scoring contemporaries - Mike Bossy, Marcel Dionne and Mario Lemeiuex - were still distant runners up to his record feats. He changed the landscape of the NHL in America when he joined the Los Angeles Kings.
The examples of the 1982-83 Neilson's candy bars (above) were just one of the many regional issues that featured Wayne. The cards can be found every so often for $5 to 10 dollars. However, mint samples are rarer and a complete set is not easliy acquired - fetching just shy of $200.
If anyone has interest in sports cards, they should have at least one Wayne Gretzky in their collection. They are easy to find and most are very affordable.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

USA Qualifies for World Cup Amid Tragedy ...

The news came at the early hours of yesterday morning - U.S. National Team forward Charlie Davies was involved in a car crash that took the life of one woman and severely injured the American soccer star.
Coming off the 3:2 victory in Honduras which booked the Americans' ticket to World Cup 2010, the team was set to play the last of the qualifying games at RFK in Washington, D.C..

Colorado's Conor Casey scored twice to ensure that the USA reached its 6th consecutive FIFA final (1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006 2010).

Davies was a passenger in the car that was severed in half on the Washington Parkway. A female passenger was declared dead on the scene while Charlie had broken bones in the fibula, tibia, ribs and spleen. Recently signed by Sochaux FC in France, the New Hampshire native was just coming into his own starring in the FIFA Confederation Cup.

His career is in limbo as his life is tattered. We hope for the best and sympathies to the families effected by this tragedy.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Strawberry preserves ...

Sometimes opposing worlds intersect. Such events can be either disasterous or wonderful. In this case, the latter. This week I have had the opportunity to see the enthusiasm of two DARRYL STRAWBERRY collectors.

This coincidental meeting brought back a bit of nostalgia of the mid-1980's N.Y. Mets. The chase for Strawberry rookie cards was hot and heavy in the fall of 1983 as Topps issued this debut in its traded set.

The request by one of these collectors for a full body shot of the Straw-man swinging a bat prompted me to produce this custom throw-back card. Darryl is featured on this 1974 Topps style card.
It also brought me to search some of my old art boxes for a project never completed - the Topps 1956 style painting of the N.Y. Mets star. I never got around to finishing the picture - made in water colors - as I was finishing college and had a few other things on my mind.

Now, looking back after all these years, I see that Darryl has tried to turn his life around - which includes work with his charity foundation. I wish him the best of life.
Those were good memories.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Still Hungry ? ... Food for Thought ... Part 2

Since our menu was so delicious last time, we offer for your appetite - another days of eating baseball cards.

Once again breakfast leads off with POST Cereal cards - the 1990's continued the tradition began in the 1960's with this brand.

The inaugural version in 1961 were fraught with variations and even a Canadian issue which differed from the U.S. counterpart. Sets were made for 1962 and 1963.

For those in too much of rush to grab a full bowl or box - the 1950 debuted the tasty bakery of DRAKE's cards. These were again continued in 1981 with succesive issues up to 1988.
For lunch we make a quick nip into the local fast food - BURGER KING - which issued team sets from 1977 to 1980 and again in 1986 and 1987. The early ones were off versions of Topps card with a few alternate photos on the cards. The 1986/87 design were different with air-brushed logos.
A snack between meals leads us to the ice cream issued CRANE / various companies disks.
If that does not curb the hunger, than NESTLE - the world's leader in chocolate - produced a fine yellow border set of 24 in 1984 and subsequent sets in 1987 and 1988.
For dinner KRAFT - producers of Macaroni & Cheese - distributed more air-brushed cards on panels of two.
A midnight snack - or an early breakfast - with the 1986 QUAKER OATS - granola bars which we threw away (or threw up) and just kept the card. This is one of the underrated sets produced in conjunction with Topps. Great photos and player selection make this a sleeper.
Bon Appetite !

Saturday, October 10, 2009

That 70's (football) Show

There are many things that I liked about the football cards of the 1970's. Having said that - it was a time of change that was reflected in Topps, the dominating factor in cards from this era.

Snow Shoes in California:

Nothing was brighter than football players in California (except the Brady Bunches back yard). If you look at the cards of the Rams, Raiders, Chargers and 49ers from the early 70's - the grass was greener and the sky was bluer.

If you wanted to be cool, you could pose like Jack Snow - with white shoes in mid-air. THAT was the way to be immortalized on a trading card !

Air-Jordan vs. Air-Brushing:

On the other hand, nothing exposed the bad side of 1970's cards than the advent of air-brushing.
This Coy Bacon card is so obliterated by retouching, he is almost non-existant. Ironically, Bacon was originally a Los Angeles Ram when the photo was taken - but something indistinguishable after his Topps-otomy.
Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood:

The suburban expansion was recorded on the practice fields facilities - especially on many of the Redskins cards (photographed in Maryland). Never have so many houses appeared in cardboard - as on Dave Robinson's - since the T69 Historic Homes tobacco set.

Willie make it, Buddy don't:
Sometimes the cardboard captures great moments. If this 1973 Jim O'Brien is not the actual field goal that won Super Bowl V over the Cowboys, then it's a great recreation. (except that N.Y. Jets are the opponent)

... and then there is this attempt, a close 2nd to Garo Yempremian's failed pass in Super Bowl VII. There is no way this one went between the posts.

Right foot, Wrong field:
If Topps air-brushed the soccer ball out of Chris Farasopoulos' card - I would not be surprised. He looks like my friends on a Sunday pick-up soccer game.

... and Roy Gerela was doing double duty - as he turned around seconds after this photo to pose kicking a soccer ball at the goals behind him.

The invisible ink well:
Poor Don McCauley was exposed to the sprinklers (to his right) which washed away not only the football, but the quarterback who handed it to him. This one really cannot be blamed on Topps. The Baltimore Colts would vanish the same way in another decade.
Who Ya Gonna Call ?:
The Ghostbusters may have been the ones to call for the mystery above. But it is usually the quarterbacks who were depicted using phones on there cards. so what is Carl Eller doing ? Dialing for assistance ? Ordering a pizza ? Moonlighting as an AT&T operator ?

Hike it to Spike (please):
The United Way could do nothing to help poor Spike Jones. Not only was he stuck with the name of a famous nightclub performer, but he had the job of the thankless NFL punter - the guy who gets the call when you give up. Someone please hike the ball to Spike ?

By the way, which one is pink ?:
The rock band Pink Floyd fielded such a question when reporters wanted to know the band member's names. If you were not familiar with the Redskins of the 1970's, then your guess was as good as anyone's to which guy in this pre-game ceremony was Chris Hanburger. (hint - he is not carrying a flag)

And Now a Word from Our Sponsors:
Garo Yepremian's 1971 card looks like a suburban car ad from LIFE Magazine. What goes better with jaw-crunching football or soothing field goals - than the family station wagon. (pre-mini van for you youngsters)

Fame, Shmame:
Good ol' Claude Humphrey was big time in Atlanta. But the Falcons were the opposite of world-beaters in the 1970's. So if you are going to be remembered on a football card, it may as well be pictured tackling a Hall of Famer. Here Claude claws Cowboys legend Roger Staubach.

Friends in High Places:
To say that Bob Windsor was a well known football player - is well, a stretch at best. But Bob did have his fans. I think this 1974 card may just be the only one on record to be rooting for the player on his own card.
A closer look at the top right corner shows that either Bob had a mole inside Topps or his fans were more prevalent than the John 3:16 fanatics of the 1970's. (Bob Windsor NFL No. 1 tight End)