Saturday, November 26, 2011

Bad timing for a Paterno custom

Despite the fact that I have been a part-time resident of Alexandria,  Pa., about 45 minutes from State College, for several years, I had vowed to never be a Penn State fan as long as Joe Paterno was the head coach.

I just never liked what I saw and heard in brief TV exposures over the years.  In the last couple of seasons, however, I'd grudgingly become more tolerant of him with my gradual immersion into the community. News stories and TV appearances were more plentiful and comprehensive and I got a better feel for the guy.

With Penn State now in the same division (I can never remember which is the "Legends" and which is the "Leaders") as Wisconsin in the Big 10 conference, I'm still not able to fully commit to Penn State fandom, but most weeks I am pulling for them to win.

For the last couple of years, I had the creation of a Joe Paterno custom card on my to-do list of 1955-style All-American cards. I found a couple of decent pictures of Paterno when he was playing at Brown University in the book, The Paterno Legacy. Like most photos taken from books, the dot structure mitigates against a great result, but with a little extra work, the resulting card can be acceptable. Specifically, besides colorizing the photo, a bit of experimenting with the Gaussian blur feature of Photoshop is required to minimize the print dots without losing detail.

Unlike a lot of the subjects of my All-American "updates," Paterno actually had a career-contemporary "card." He is the among the 100 collegiate subjects Topps chose for its 1950 "felt back" set of ugly little postage-stamp size pieces. Paterno may have been included because he was a major high school football and basketball star at Brooklyn Prep, or it may have been because he was the field general in Brown's 8-1 season in 1949,

If not for recent events at Penn State, I may have held my Paterno custom in abeyance for a while yet. I was waiting for him to wind up his coaching career so that my biography could reflect whether or not he retired as the winningest Division I coach of all-time, and what his win total would be.

Now that those things are known, there seems to be no reason to hold off on making my Paterno card, so here it is.

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