Wednesday, January 18, 2012

My first '58 football custom honors Hawg Hanner

I've had a few 1958 Topps-style football cards on my to-do list of customs for a long while. The recent discovery of a Topps Vault photo of a long-time favorite 1950s-60s Green Bay Packer was the impetus to actually get a '58 tribute into production.,

The 1958 Topps football set was a childhood favorite. It was right in my collecting heyday; I was seven years old when the cards hit the street.

Years later, after I had become involved in publishing books, magazines and papers for sportscards collectors, I was made aware of a more local connection with the '58T set.

Pioneer card dealer Larry Fritsch told me that many of the photos of Green Bay Packers that appear in the 1958 Topps set were taken in his hometown of Stevens Point, Wis., in 1957. At that time the Packers conducted their pre-season training camp at what was then the Wisconsin State University-Stevens Point campus, about an hour and a half west of Green Bay. The Topps photographer caught the Packers while they worked out at the city's Bukolt Park. Larry drove me over to the park and some of the background and structures that are shown on the Topps cards were still in evidence.

The posed-action photo of Dave Hanner that I used for my first '58-style custom football card was undeniably from that Summer of '57 photo shoot. However, it was never used on a Topps card.

Hanner appeared on 1954 and 1955 Bowman cards, and on 1957 and 1959-60 Topps cards. I guess we'll never know why Topps skipped him in 1958, but I think my custom card helps fill that void.

As I mentioned, Dave Hanner was one of my favorite Packers of that era. Maybe it was his nickname, "Hawg," that paid tribute to his college days as a two-time All Southwestern Conference lineman for the Arkansas Razorbacks. Football players today are apparently too cool or too professional to have old-school nicknames.  

Hanner was the Packers' 5th round draft pick in 1952 and spent more than 40 years with Green Bay as a defensive tackle (1952-64), defensive line coach (1965-71), defensive co-ordinator (1972-74), assistant head coach (1975-79) and scout (1982-96).

A fact that I found amazing while I was googling Hanner's career was that from 1952-64, the Packers played in 167 regular-season and NFL Championship games, and Hanner played in 163 of them -- remarkable given the propensity for injury among NFL linemen. The four games Hanner missed came at the end of his playing days, one in 1961, and three in his final season, 1964.  

What I didn't find while surfing the 'net was any confirmation of the well-known childhood "fact" that Hanner was the cousin of pro wrestler Dick the Bruiser, who, playing under his real name of Dick Afflis, had been Hanner's teammate on the Packers from 1952-54.

While poking around on the internet, I was also struck by the number of fond personal remembrances of Hanner by family, friends and former teammates. You can find some of them here: .

As I said earlier, my Hanner custom is the first of several 1958-style customs that I'm planning. Now that I have the template down, the others should come more easily. Watch this space.

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