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.


  1. There is a 1991 HOF set by Enor ,very similar to Swell, lots of the same photos.

  2. I love Swell trading cards... and these are no exception. I think the only ones I own are the non-certified signed cards I picked up two years ago at a card show. Can't wait to see that Wojciechowicz letter of yours. Sounds like a very cool collectible.

  3. Nice-looking set. Swell always did a good job. Those photos say these guys played a LONG time ago.