Thursday, January 28, 2021

1988 Swell Gum Football Greats (H-O-F)

I love oddball sets and I was happy to pick up this 1988 Swell Gum Football Greats set on Net54. As you might expect it features all the members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame as of the issue date.

The logo on the front is a bit hard to make out but it signifies that 1988 was the Hall's 25th Anniversary. There are 144 cards in the set. Here's that logo.


Swell Gum was a brand name under the Philly Gum umbrella and Philly Gum is lasted (it's very hard to see) on the back of the cards.

The checklist is quirky in that it starts off with the five 1985 Hall inductees. That group included Joe Willie Namath, O. J. Simpson, and Pete Rozelle. 1985 was three years prior to the set being issued. The newest inductee class (1988) is at the end. It's as if the set was put together in '85 with the newest members featured but not issured for three years. In between the '85 and '88 groups the rest of the Hall members are in alphabetical order..sort of. Some cards are 'out of place' in the alphabetical lineup...Dick Butkus and Willie Brown landed in behind the inductees with 'C' names and others are scrambled as well. 

The cards themselves have a decent design. The Hall logo takes up too much space but it doesn't deter from the cards much.


Nothing wrong with the Jim Brown card. It's better than some of the Topps and Philly Gum cards that were produced during his career.

I had to stop and think when I was sorting these and saw "John Johnson". I just didn't recognize the name or the face.

But when I flipped it over I saw it was John Henry Johnson.He was a powerful runner for the Steelers and a few other teams back in the day but I know I never once heard him referred to as simply John Johnson. Henry was always part of his name. That's how he's listed everywhere

This is as good as any a spot to show the back of the cards. The text is exactly the same as is posted on the member's Hall of Fame website page.

A few more of my favorite cards...

Then there is this....

The Jim Parker and Gino Marchetti cards are perfect examples of the wide gap in photo quality. I mean is that the best pic of Parker available? It appears to be a faded Polaroid Instamatic shot. OTOH, the Marchetti photo used is a classic.  

Some, like Lance Alworth's picture, fall somewhere in between.

I've mentioned a few times the letter I received unsolicited from 70s era Giants runningback Ron Johnson. It was something prompted by a meeting between Johnson and my Uncle Gerard. The same sort of thing happened with Hall inductee Alex Wojciechowicz. One day in the mid 1980s I got a large envelope in the mail which contained a Pro Football Hall of Fame wall calendar. It had been sent by Alex Wojciechowicz who had become a customer at my Uncle's pharmacy. In it Wojciechowicz had written a bit about his career and some notes on other Hall members he'd played with and against in the 40s. What I remember most about it is that every he signed his full name to every comment. I'm sure i have the calendar among the stuff I packed away when I gave up my hobby room whn we needed space for a second nursery.  I'll dig it out one of these days.

I'm a sucker for sideline cape pics so I'll finish with this one of Doug Atkins.

Swell followed up this set with sets in 1989 and 1990. If I can find them cheap enough I may grab those as well.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Frank Robinson Postcard

Picked up some stuff from Net54 members recently. I've bought more there in the last few months than I have from eBay, SportsLots or anywhere else. In addition to some oddball football and baseball sets I paid a few bucks for this addition to my Frank Robinson collection. The unused postcard shows Frank and his staff as he was about to become MLB's first black manager.
This is almost surely a photo from Spring Training in Tucson where the Indians trained from the late '40s through the early 1990s. On Frank's staff that first season were (l-r) Harvey Haddix, Dave Garcia, Tom McCraw, and Jeff Torborg . Looks like all five of them wore their stirrups as they had during their playing days. Frank had those long, thin ones going on. 

I know a lot of folks look back wistfully at those Indians unis but I wasn't a fan, then or now. Wouldn't turn down one of those lids though.

ST will be here fairly soon (I think). We had very preliminary plans to head for Florida for last season's camps but we all know what happened. Maybe we can get there in 2022. I would love to see Sarasota, Lakeland and Bradenton again.

Finally, here is a quick clip of Frank's debut as Indians manager in which he famously homed to help get himself a win. RIP

Monday, January 11, 2021

Stuff on my desk, Pt 2

Here are some other things I've had kicking around that I'm scanning today before they go into the right binder.

This c. 1963 Jim Rowe produced postcard of Billy Pierce was on eBay and pointed out to me by Jeff Wilk. I have a copy of this but I'm happy to have added a signed one for just a few dollars.

I spent more of my fantasy football winnings on some '67s. Those are on their way. Meanwhile here are some that came my way a week or two ago.

Bobby Tolan was among the last of the non-high numbers I was lacking. His is one of those cards that seem to command a premium for no apparent reason by a certain number of dealers while the rest list him at common prices. It's an odd phenomenon I've seen with other sets like the '61 T and '62T.

Fergie officially finished off the low numbers.

When I went to my first in-person Houston SABR chapter meeting I got a very 'cliche-ish' vibe. I felt like an outsider honestly. But I ended up sitting across the table from Larry Dierker and he was very friendly.

Now, something different.near the end of 2020 I bought a stack of twelve or so 1958 Atlantic Oil Film Stars cards from someone on NET54. Rather than cherry pick what he had I just grabbed the lot. Or at least what he had left after someone else had taken a few. Happy to add Janet Leigh to my Hollywood collection but the main draw for me was Ingrid Bergman.

Ava Gardner was a nice bonus.

I don't think Gregory Peck ever gave a bad performance. I scanned Lana Turner's card with a mosern card to show the size difference.

I've been adding to my SSPC Baseball Immortals set with the later-issued Hall members. I still need a few. Fun little set.

I also added to my '75 Topps mini build. Not sure I've mentioned that before. But it's a slow build that I may or may not ever finish. I had most of the Orioles and a few others before I bought a starter set years ago and just let it sit in a box. If you have some dupes lemme know. I'd love to trade.

I'll post a few of those and a handful of other odds and ends in the next week or so if we all don't go to hell in a hand-basket before then.

Monday, January 4, 2021

Fantasy Football Pays Off


The biggest stumbling block to my 1967 Topps chase arrived today via Fed Ex. The Seaver/Denehy rookie is now the biggest hobby purchase I've ever made. By far.

Tom Seaver's death in 2020 forced a bump in the price of an already super expensive card. It was rather discouraging to look at the prices asked in auctions and on eBay. I gave a few thoughts to backing out of my pursuit of the set but I was really too far into it. I was past the point of no-return. I guess I could have sold off what I had put together but I'd have lost money on the graded cards I'd broken out of their holders and the work involved in selling cards just isn't something I find enticing.

Then something happened that changed my way of looking at the last leg of the chase. I won two of my fantasy football money leagues and was the runner-up in the third one. I had a pretty healthy PayPal balance a day or so after Christmas and it was back to eBay for me.

Over the last few months I'd made a few half-hearted attempts at some low-end Seavers but lost out on all of them. As I've done with all the expansive cards in my sets builds I kept my eyes out for graded cards I would accept and raw cards from very well established dealers I trust. Two targets popped up last week and I made an offer on one PSA 1.5 which was turned down and then on this one from a dealer I hadn't bought from before but who had 100% feedback with many, many thousands of sales. He counter-offered,  I thought it over and bought it. The cost was a bit more than I had hoped to pay but still within reason. 

The corners are decent, there's a scuff along the bottom edge a a stain on the back but considering the $1000+ examples I had been seeing I am more than happy with this one. It puts me at 40 high numbers away from the finish. That includes the spendy Carew rookie. But that one isn't as bad as the Seaver. 

I'll get there. Finishing this thing and maybe my '62 Post set are my 2021 hobby goals.