Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Joe Guyon, Part II, the pro years

As promised in my June 28 posting, I’m here to wrap up the story of Joe Guyon, with a recap of his career as a professional football and baseball player in the 1920s. If you haven’t read the first part, I’ll wait here while you get caught up.
Guyon left college in 1919, at the age of 26 (eligibility standards were different then), accepting Jim Thorpe’s invitation to join the Canton Bulldogs, a professional football powerhouse in the Ohio League, which was a direct ancestor of today’s NFL.
With a 9-0-1 record, Canton won the 1919 league championship. In 1920, Canton became a charter member of the American Professional Football Association, which became the National Football League in 1922.
In 1920, Guyon, Thorpe and the Bulldogs finished eighth, at 7-4. Unfortunately, stats for the NFL’s early seasons are not available, so it is impossible to quantify Guyon’s performance or make valid comparisons to other pioneering pro stars. We do know, however, that he is credited that season with a 95-yard punt.
Guyon remained paired with Thorpe in four more NFL backfields between 1921 and 1924. They played with the Cleveland Indians in 1921, the Oorang Indians (a traveling team of Native Americans sponsored by a championship dog breeder) in 1922-1923 and the Rock Island Independents in 1924. Surprisingly, those teams had a combined NFL record of 12-23-2, with only one winning season, a 5-2-2 record at Rockford. The two were also close off the field, with Guyon serving as best man at Thorpe’s wedding.
Some sources indicate Guyon also played with the APFA Washington Senators and the independent Union Quakers of Philadelphia in 1921, though those affiliations are not mentioned in Guyon’s official NFL Hall of Fame biography.
Thorpe and Guyon’s football paths diverged in 1925, Thorpe remaining at Rock Island with Guyon moving on to the Kansas City Cowboys in 1925, suffering another losing (2-5-1) season.
If he played pro football at all in 1926, Guyon played for independent teams. In 1927, in their third year in the NFL, the New York Giants signed Guyon. Playing guard tackle, blocking back and tailback and doing the punting, Guyon helped the Giants to an 11-1-1 record and the NFL Championship. “I did everything except sell programs,” Guyon said.
Guyon’s engagement with the championship Giants was his last in the NFL. Though not yet 35, it was reported that a baseball injury prevented his return to pro football. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1966.
Prior to joining the Canton football team in 1919, Guyon was reported by The Sporting News to have been playing independent baseball in Minnesota and North Dakota. He was given a trial by the New York (baseball) Giants late in the 1919 season, but failed to make the club and, though he played minor league ball for 12 seasons, never played an inning of major league ball.
Late in 1919, Guyon signed his first pro contract with the Atlanta Crackers of the then-Class A Southern Association. The Sporting News’ Atlanta correspondent, who wrote under the by-line of Lynch, lauded what he called the surprise move by team owner Charley Frank to acquire “Georgia’s star football and baseball player.” Lynch wrote, “Although it has been known locally that the popular college player would sign with some professional team for the 1920 drive, it was believed here the offers of several major league clubs, known to have been made to him, would prove so successful that efforts of local magnates to secure his services would prove futile.”
Guyon traveled a bit during the 1920 season. He book ended the season with Atlanta. Early in the year he was put on waivers and claimed by Little Rock. He was joined on the Travelers, who were also a Southern Association team, by Native American players William Wano and Moses Yellow Horse. In July, Guyon was put on waivers by Little Rock and Atlanta reclaimed him.
Guyon initially refused to report back to Atlanta and played for a time with Winder in a Georgia outlaw league. By the end of the season he was back in Atlanta. The SABR Minor Leagues Data Base shows Guyon also found time to play a handful of game in 1920 with Augusta, of the Class C South Atlantic League. Overall, Guyon’s batting average for 1920 was just .233 with one home run.
For the off-season, Guyon joined the Georgia Tech football coaching staff, reportedly commuting each weekend to professional engagements with Canton.
Guyon spent the 1921-1923 season in Atlanta’s outfield. He hit .309, and once the lively ball made its way to the Southern Association, his home run output jumped to 11 in 1922 and 10 in 1923. He had never previously hit more than one home run in any season.
Speed was Guyon’s principal weapon. He stole more than 200 bases in his minor league career, including 45 with Atlanta in 1921. Four times he scored more than 100 runs.
It was back to Little Rock for Guyon in 1924, where he hit .346. He spent the 1925-28 seasons with Louisville, batting a nifty .350 and helping the Colonels to American Association championships in 1926 and 1927.
He played only 25 games for Louisville in 1928, injuring his knee when he ran into an outfield fence in May. That ended his hopes of making the major leagues, as well as his pro football career.
From 1928-1931, Guyon was head baseball coach for the Clemson Tigers, with a combined 42-36-3 record.
In 1931, Guyon returned to professional baseball at the age of 38 as a playing-manager for the Anderson/Spartanburg Electrics of the Class D Palmetto League, batting .315. He jumped a couple of classifications in 1932, managing Asheville of the Piedmont League (Class B). He hit .364 that season in 66 games.
In the off-seasons, Guyon coached high school football at St. Xavier in Louisville from 1931-33, with a 16-7-2 record. Guyon’s final engagement in pro ball was as playing-manager of the Fieldale Towlers in the Bi-State League, a Class D circuit in Virginia and North Carolina. At the age of 43 he was still able to hit .265 in 33 games.
Overall in 12 minor league seasons, Guyon hit .329.
Following his playing days, Guyon lived for a time in Harrah, Okla., and from 1954-1962 in Flint, Mich., where he was a bank guard. A fellow Georgia Tech alum who knew Joe Guyon after his playing days, Joseph P. Byrd III, said of Guyon, “Though a terror on the football field, off the field Joe was a gentleman, light-hearted, bright, animated and witty.” He returned to Louisville in 1968 where he lived out his days, dying there a day after his 79th birthday.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Joe Guyon, finally out from Jim Thorpe's shadow

The latest addition to my series of 1955 Topps-style All-American college football cards is Joe Guyon, who starred at both Carlisle and Georgia Tech in the 1910s. For many years I'd had an interest in Guyon because, besides being a collegeiate gridiron star and an NFL Hall of Famer, Guyon also had a very successful minor league baseball career.

Georgia Tech didn't have any players in the original 1955 Topps All-American set, which I thought was a shame, since I'm sure the creative types at Topps could have worked up a great logo based on the team's unofficial nickname of the "Ramblin' Wreck." I've done my best to come up with something appropriate.

There is so much more to Joe Guyon's story that I can fit into 90 words on the back of his card, so I'm going to take a couple of days to present it here.

Because he spent his early collegiate career and his entire professional career in the shadow of Jim Thorpe, the name and fame of Joe Guyon are little known to today’s fans and collectors.

Like Thorpe, Guyon was a two-sport star who parlayed awesome athletic abilities into a life away from the White Earth Indian reservation near Brainerd, Minn., where he was born O-Gee-Chidah (sometimes translated as “Big Brave”) into the Ojibwa (Chippewa) tribe on Nov. 26, 1892. His English name was Joseph Napoleon Guyon. Also like Jim Thorpe, Joe Guyon was never saddled with what would today be considered the offensive nickname of "Chief," that was ubiquitously applied to virtually every Indian athlete in his era. A sportswriter or two, with a nod toward Mark's Twain's villain in Tom Sawyer, tried to make "Indian Joe" stick on Guyon, but it never really caught on.

He began his collegiate career under coach Pop Warner at the Carlisle (Pa.) Industrial Indian School in 1912. At 5’ 10” amd 195 lbs., he was a crushing blocker as a tackle for his teammate of Jim Thorpe. The team went 12-1-1. When Thorpe left the school, Guyon took over for him at halfback for the 1913 season. Carlisle was 11-2-1 that season, and both Walter Camp (Collier’s magazine) and the International News Service named Guyon a second-team All-American. Guyon also ran track at Carlisle; the school had no baseball team at that time.

From 1914-1916, Guyon attended Keewatin Academy, a private boys’ school that split its term (and sports seasons) seasonally between Prarie du Chien, Wis., and Ponce Park, Fla. Guyon spent his time at Keewatin bolstering his grades to make himself a better candidate for the major universities.

While on his way to visit a North Carolina school that had offered him a scholarship, Guyon stopped in Atlanta where his older brother Charles, himself a football star at the Haskell Institute and Carlisle, was an assistant under football coach John Heisman at Georgia Tech.

Guyon decided to matriculate at Tech. He became part of Heisman’s “Dream Team Backfield,” and when he wasn’t carrying the ball himself, he was clearing the way for others. Ralph McGill, Atlanta sportswriter, said of Guyon, “They could follow that big fellow and run to glory because he cleared the way, and I mean he cleared it!”

Another writer said, “Survivors of the teams Tech played in those days still shudder to recall the multiple impacts when Guyon blocked or tackled them, and he could punt over 60 yards consistently, place-kick from midfield and pass with the best.”

Georgia Tech went 9-0 in 1917, outscoring its opponents 491-17. In an 83-0 defeat of Vanderbilt,

Guyon ran for 344 yards in just a dozen carries. Later that season, against Carlisle, Guyon played only the first quarter as his old school was humiliated 98-0. Georgia Tech was named national champions in 1917 and Guyon was honored as halfback on two of the major All-American teams of the day.

With a 6-1 record, Georgia Tech won the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association championship in 1918 and Guyon was named a tackle on Frank Menke’s first syndicated All-American team.

Even after Guyon was nearly 20 years removed from the collegiate football scene, McGill wrote in 1935, “There is no doubt in my mind that Joe Guyon is the greatest football player the South ever saw.”

Joe Guyon was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1971.

(We’ll pick up Joe Guyon’s story with his pro football and baseball careers next time.)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Koufax gets two "new" rookie cards

As I mentioned in my last posting, I found the circa 1957 photo of Sandy Koufax in action on the Ebbets Field mount so compelling that I couldn't stop with making just one custom card from it.
A hometown Brooklyn boy, Koufax had his "real" rookie card with the Brooklyn-based Topps gum company in 1955. He did not appear in that year's Bowman baseball set.

I've remedied that by creating a hybrid of a Topps photo and a Bowman format. Actually, I did it twice. The 1955 Bowman "Color TV" set has been one of my favorite baseball card issues of all time since the day my brother came home from the neighborhood grocery store with fifty cents worth of nickel packs and began sorting them on the living room rug, proudly announcing that he had "more than half a hundred" of the newly releasedcards. For some reason "half a hundred" seemd to me at the time like so much greater a quantity than "50."

My first 1955 Bowman-style custom card was a George Crowe piece I featured in this space some months back. That card uses the mahogany tv cabinet. When the thought of doing a '55B Koufax popped into my head, I knew immediately I wanted to use the white oak cabinet that appeared on many of the early series in 1955 Bowman.

Unfortunately, my meager holdings of 1955 Bowmans do not contain any of the lighter wood framed cards, so I had to go on the internet and buy one. Before doing so, I paged through a library of images of 1955 Bowman to find an oak cabinet card that had the right photo background on which to place the Koufax photo.

I knew I wanted to find a card that showed a lot of the Shibe Park background in which the vast majority of the players had been photographed for that set. I found the perfect "host" card in #15, Boston Red Sox pitcher Frank Sullivan. Not only does the Sullivan card have the oak cabinet and a lot of stadium background, but the player's picture at center takes up very little space and could be easily airbrushed away.

I found myself in a quandry, however, as I studied the card of Cardinals' pitcher Brooks Lawrence. I've always liked the Lawrence card because the photo was taken on a nice sunny day, and the bright blue sky is nearly unmatched through the rest of the set. While the Lawrence card has the darker wood tv cabinet, it was no great chore to remove the photo portion of the card and put it into the oak furniture of the Sullivan card.
You'll notice I used a more close-up version of the Koufax photo on the Lawrence-derived card, which I think helps provide some distinction between my two "new" Koufax rookies. Both cards share the same back.

As with all of my custom cards shared on this blog, you are perfectly welcome to pick off the images (I usually present them in fairly high resolution) and paste together your own card. 

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A 1957 Topps Sandy Koufax alt

One of the best (at least for us old-guy card collectors) player photos to come out of the Topps Vault series of internet auctions caught my eye and provided the inspiration for not one, but a pair of, Sandy Koufax custom card creations. (The photo also caught the eye of some serious Koufax collector specialists and Brooklyn Dodgers team collectors, and it was bid up to $1,275.)

The image was an original Topps color transparency described as dating from 1957. Indeed, the then-21-year-old Koufax is pictured at the top of his wind-up with some of Ebbets Field's outfield signs in the background.

I'm not going to second-guess the designers at Topps in 1957, who chose to go with a great close-up portrait for the Koufax card in their short-printed Fourth Series. But to me, the photo from the Topps vault just seemed like it would have also made a very nice card . . . so I made one.
I haven't often, in my several years of custom card making, tried to improve on an actual card from Topps, Bowman, etc. It's my belief that the graphic artists who created those originals so many decades ago, working with what today is viewed as ancient technology -- a roll of rubylith and an Xacto knife -- do not deserve to have their legacy usurped by me and my computer graphics tools.

But the image of the '57-style card that could be created from this newly re-discovered Koufax photo was just too vivid in my mind's eye, so I made it a reality.

As my custom card projects go, this alternative '57 Koufax was pretty easy. I just had to match the name/position/team typography from 1957 and lay it over the photo. On back, I just made a couple of subtle changes so that the card can't be confused with a genuine 1957 Topps issue.

This Koufax alt card represents my first work in the 1957 Topps set, which is surprising since that issue remains one of my all-time favorite basecall card sets. I have several other '57s on my to-do list, including a Stan Musial, who didn't appear on a Topps card until 1958.

Keep you eye on this space to see the other custom card that derived from this great old Topps photo of Sandy Koufax.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Down-sized Babe Ruth premium questioned

A reader recently inquired about what he believes may be an as-yet unreported third size of a Babe Ruth premium issued circa 1930 by the Chicago Herald and Examiner daily newspaper.
The Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards recognizes two sizes of the premium, measuring approximately 8-1/2" x 11" or 5" x 7". The card in question measures 2-3/16" in width at top; 2-1/8" wide at bottom. Height is 2-15/16" at left; just less than that at right.
I've had a chance to examine the card. Maybe I've been away from the counterfeit detection game too long. I no longer have a microscope and black lights on my desk top. My eyes aren't what they used to be. And maybe the newsest generation of fakes and fakers has passed me by with my antiquated expertise and examination techniques. I'm just not able to publicly make a call of good or bad on this item.
I like the look of the stock on which it is printed. The paper is about the thickness of photographic print paper and has a convincing aged look, both front and back. What I initially thought was a "reproduced" crease at top-left is an actual paper crease, clearly visible on the blank back.
The quality of the printing gives me pause, however. It's been many years since I had the larger-format premium in hand, so I don't recall its specs. I believe it was probably offset printed in the rotogravure offset process used to produce the Sunday magazine section in many newspapers of that era. I don't specifically recall ever examining the 5" x 7" version, so I can't comment on its production values.
This down-sized version also appears to have been printed in rotogravure four-color process, though I am unsure why the black ink portions have such a glossy, embossed, "wet" look.
Perhaps moreso than the physcial characteristics of the cardin question, I'm having trouble wrapping my mind around its original intended purpose. The 8-1/2" x 11" size was common to premiums in that era. It was a nice display item that might induce a baseball fan to buy the Sunday H and E off the newsstand, rather than the Trib or one of the other contemporary papers.
Frankly, I don't know why a 5x7 version would have been issued and am even more perplexed by this nominally 2-1/8" x 3" version. What could have been the intended use for which it was printed?
I'd guess that an examination of back issues of the Herald and Examiner for the few days before the Babe Ruth premium was actually issued might answer some of those questions, but we don't even know what year the premium was issued. Giving a bit more thought to that topic, perhaps the arbitrary designation of 1930 is too early. Perhaps it was issued in conjunction with the 1932 World Series, when the Yankees swept the Cubs. Or maybe there is a connection to the first All-Star Game at Comiskey Park in 1933.
This is not an idle inquiry; there are serious dollars at stake. The larger versions of the premium picture carry a book value of $1,300 in NM in the latest SCBC. Because this smaller version is more "card-like" in nature, and thus more appealing to many collectors, it is not out of the question that its value could be even higer than its big brothers, but at least one of the major certification services has declined to rule on its authenticity.
Naturally, anything you, the readers, can come up with in terms of facts, conjecture or opinions about this card would be most welcome.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

'55 Topps Koufax reprint errors

In the course of doing my research for a custom card project (coming soon to this blog!) I had occasion to reference the back of the 1955 Sandy Koufax reprint that Topps made for its 1995 Brooklyn Dodgers Archives issue.

I had never noticed it before, but the reprint displays several errors in the biographical data section at left on back.

Most prominently, the reprint misspells Koufax's first name, adding a "D" to make "SANDFORD".
The reprint also flip-flopped Koufax's throwing and batting orientations, presenting them as "Bats: Left" and "Throws: Right". In actuality, as printed on the back of the original card, Koufax was a southpaw who batted righty.
Finally, the reprint subtracted 60 years from Koufax's age, giving his birthdate as 1995, instead of the correct 1935.
I don't know whether Topps made similar mistakes on other cards in the Dodgers Archives set. I don't believe they corrected the errors on the Koufax rookie reprint, or we'd have heard about it by now.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Collector updates Wheaties comic book ads

Texas collector Otis Johnson has provided a good deal of updated information concerning the Dell comics back cover ads that featured sports stars' endorsements in the early 1950s.

He wrote. "I 'm sure someone will be able to complete the checklist of the Dell comics Wheaties ads for you, but, because I have a number of full comics with printing dates intact, I can shed some light on the timing of these issues.

"There are two obviously separate versions of the Dell rear covers: The 'Sparks' cover on which the athlete (and all other images) is represented by a life-like cartoon drawing, e.g., Doak Walker Sparks for Lions,' and the 'Spark Up' cover which has a color photo of the athlete filling the one quarter of the ad. . . 'SPARK UP... to pick off a baserunner!' says ROY CAMPANELLA.'''

Based on the comics in his collection, Otis believes the cartoon image ads appeared on comics dating from Fall 1952 to Fall 1953. The photo image ads date from Fall 1953 to Fall 1954. "So it appears these ads postdate the Wheaties cereal box cards of 1951 and 1952 by at least a season," he said.

"I am including scans of two photo ad athletes not mentioned in your blog/SCD article (Davies and Fears) and also several scans of the "Sparks" type ads," Otis continued. "Please note the ad featuring Ferris Fain; like Abel he is not part of the 1951-52 club. Also take a look at the Doak Walker ad. It is slightly different than the others yet the Tarzan comic I have dates from January 1953. I think I assembled a full set of both versions several years ago and will try to find any other examples I may have."

The scans that Otis sent were:

"Spark Up" photo series: Tom Fears (L.A. Rams), Bob Davies (Rochester Royals).

"Sparks" drawing series:

Sid Abel (hockey), Ferris Fain (White Sox), Gretchen Fraser (skiing), Ralph Kiner (Pirates), Stan Musial (Cardinals), Phil Rizzuto (Yankees), Preacher Roe (Dodgers), Doak Walker (Lions), and Bob Waterfield (Rams).

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Pat Tillman made Hall of Fame, my custom card set

It was recently announced that Pat Tillman had been elected to the College Football Hall of Fame.

He made my own college football hall of fame when I learned the details of his life and death in 2004. A true American hero, you probably already know Tillman's story; if not, give it a Google.

For many years Arizona State has been my favorite football team in the Pac-10. I've even got a large decal of Sparky on the back of my custom-flamed gold PT Cruiser.

The Sun Devils had been unable to the crack Topps' lineup in the original 1955 All-American football card issue. Honestly, I'm not sure when an ASU player would have made it into my custom card homage to that set if Tillman had not made the ultimate sacrifice for his country. The Army's bumbling attempt to cover up the true story of Tillman's death did nothing to diminish my admiration for him.

When I decided in May, 2004, to create a 1955-style Tillman card, with a posthumous note on the front, I went right to the source to get a good color photo of him in college uniform. An e-mail to the sports information office at ASU drew a quick response in the form of the scan which I adapted for nmy card.

The team logo that appears is a direct steal from an original Topps card, which used a blue devil character for a Duke player. Since childhood, that stylized demon had been one of my favorite logos from the original All-American set.

Like most Americans, I knew nothing of Pat Tillman until his death. But I'm proud to be among those who have been able to pay tribute to a man whose life epitomized the title of All-American.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Ron Dayne added Badgers to All-American updates

I saw in the newspaper the other day that former Heisman Trophy winner Ron Dayne lost much of his prized football bling in a couple of burglaries. The swag, reported to have been taking in two seperate burglaries at two different apartments, was valued at more than $140,000 and included his 1999 and 2000 Rose Bowl MVP rings and the bracelet representing his Maxwell Award (nation's top college football player) from 1999.

Dayne is the player most closely associated with the resurgance of Wisconsin Badger football in the late 1990s. He was the reason my own interest in Big 10 football was reawakened in that era (then, as now, I was an SEC fan first and foremost).

So, he was a natural for one of my 1955-style All-American football cards. Wisconsin had not been represented in the original Topps AA issue of 195. The only real "names" among its alumns were Elroy Hirsch and Alan Ameche, and in 1955 they were under football card contract to Bowman.

While it has only been four or five years since I created my Ron Dayne custom card, I can't say for sure where I stole the picture that appears on front. It probably appeared on a football card from one of the "real" card companies.

The Great Dayne never fully carried over his college football success to the NFL, but had eight seasons of Sunday football. Here's hoping he gets back his jewelry commemorating that great college career.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Time for a Ricky Williams make-over

One of the earlier creations in my Second Series of 1955 All-American style custom football cards was Ricky Williams. I created the card shortly after Ricky announced his retirement in August, 20o4.

His first retirement was related to a pending suspension for using marijuana, and I noted something to that effect in the biography I wrote for the back of my card.

Williams, of course, returned to the NFL for the 2005 season, then played 2006 in the Canadian league while he sat out an NFL drug-related suspension. He played one game in 2007 before being injured. He was a productive running back for the Dolphins the past two seasons.

In light of the fact that Williams has rehabilitated himself -- at least to a degree of compliance with NFL standards -- I have to give some thought to whether or not to rewrite the biography on the back of my card.

This comes up because I just sent off the last of my original Ricky Williams custom cards to a collector who is going to meet with Williams and wants to get it autographed. (I know of the existence of one other autographed example of the card.)

Since I need to replenish my inventory of this card, in fairness to Ricky, it would seem only right to expunge the last sentence from the original version when I go back to press. However, that smart-ass remark has made my Williams card one of the most popular among my custom creations. What do you think?

When I do reprint the card, I'm going to lighten up the player photo a bit, since my Photoshop technique has improved some since I created the initial version. The photo I used came from the back of a "real" Ricky Williams football card from one of the major manufacturers.

Back in 2004 I was working the SCD booth at the George Johnson autumn card show in Chicago when a youngster of 7-8 years of age stopped by the booth. He was wearing a replica Ricky Williams Dolphins jersey. I asked him if he was still a Ricky Williams fan. He said he was, so I gave him one of my cards. I told him he was the only other person in the world to have that card, and he seemed truly appreciative.

Friday, June 4, 2010

My one-year anniversary

I see that it has been just over a year since I began this blog.

This will be my 174th post, aeraging about one new entry every other day.

I had no idea what kind of readership to expect. My view counter shows nearly 12,000 visits since inception, an average of more than 32 per day.

Recent months have seen me slow down a bit in my postings, but I've still got a lot to share, so I expect to continue into the forseeable future.

Thanks for your interest, the kind words and the participation via the comments section. Speaking of which, just about every time I post a new entry, I get a resuest to comment from some entity that consists of a lengthy paragraph of, I believe, Japanese typography. I clicked on it once, and got directed to a page offering Asian pornography. That's why I preview all comments before allowing them to be posted.

Collecting as an investment, circa 1971

As I've mentioned here in the past, as part of my quest for player photos to make some of my custom college football cards I buy the annual Pigskin Preview issues of Playboy magazines from the 1960s and 1970s.

While I didn't find any player pix I have an immediate use for in the Sept., 1971, Playboy, I did find a lengthy article that might be of interest to today's collectors. The article dealt with collecting as an investment. The traditional "mature" collectible fields were covered: stamps, coins, furniture, art, silver, etc. While baseball cards were mentioned, it was exactly that, the two words "baseball cards."

What I found most interesting about the article was how timeless the advice was in terms of collecting with an eye towards future value appreciation. The article stands up well, even nearly 40 years later.

In an effort to share the article with collectors, I made a pdf and posted it on google docs. I've tried like heck to post a direct link to the article in my blog, but can't make it work. You can find the article by going to google docs and entering Playboy Collector article001.pdf in the search box., or you can paste this address into your browser:

It would be an interesting exercise to scour the article for specific mentions of various collectibles and their prices in 1971, and see how they've done since.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Staubach was my first non-1955 custom card

Once I had created a few 1955 Topps-style All-American football cards some years back, I naturally began to wonder whether I had the chops to break out of that format and work in a different genre.

My first experiment was the cr4eation of a 1952 Bowman-style card. I was only a year old when the '52B cards were issued, but as a youngster as I inherited shoebox hoards from older kids and traded with others in the neighbordhood, more than a few 1952 Bowman football made their way into my holdings. Those artwork cards have always appealed to me because of the set's mix of college and NFL players, as well as the varied backgrounds behind the player art . . . some were representations of football fields and lockerrooms, some were merely color abstractions.

In contemplating the checklist for my own football card creations, I knew that any college set of mine would need a Roger Staubach card. While photos of Staubach as a Navy quarterback are available, I've always had a special attraction to the artwork portrait that appeared on the cover of Time magazine's Oct. 18, 1963, edition. (Coincidentally, an action color photo of Staubach was scheduled to appear on the cover of Life magazine's Nov. 29, 1963, issue, but was pulled following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Only a few copies of the Staubach-cover issue are known . . . it would also make a good football card.)

After deciding to do my Staubach in the 1952 Bowman style, I scoured eBay and found a copy for about $15. My next decision was whether to do my card in the large or the small size in which Bowman made its football set in 1952. I chose the large (2-1/2" x 3-3/4") size because not only did it offer a larger display for my creation, but as a kid I do not remember ever owning of the '52B in the smaller (2-1/8" x 3-1/8") format.

I thought putting the Time portrait art on a card would be an easy job, but the proportions didn't exactly translate between the two formats. To give myself enough room to display the name banner and the Navy logo without obscuring some of what I felt were themore important details of the portrait, I had to add a litle bit to the length of the picture. I was still rather new to Photoshop Elements at the time, so I'm sure I made the job more complicated than necessary, but by judicious application of the graphic program's pattern function, I was able to add a little bit of wrist, jersey and jersey number to the portrait and create what I think is a pleasing arrangement of the design elements.

For the background of my card (on the magazine cover Staubach appears against a light blue sky), I used that which had appeared on the 1952 Bowman George Halas card.

Another difference I quickly discovered between making a 1955 Topps-style card and a 1952 Bowman-style is that the latter offered much for room for a biographical summary, so I was able to tell much more of Staubach's story.
Over the years I've createrd a handful of other Bowman artwork-style football cards, including two different versions of a Brett Favre, which I'll share here some day.