Saturday, June 9, 2012

I always liked Emlen Tunnell: Part 1

I always liked Emlen Tunnell . . . and his football cards.

It probably started with some sort of personal eye appeal of his mid-1950s Topps and Bowman football cards (I especially liked his 1956 Topps). 

I'm sure my appreciation for Tunnell as a football player increased as we sat around the black-and-white TV on Dec. 28, 1958, watching the Colts beat the Giants 23-17 in overtime for the NFL title.

By the time new Packers head coach Vince Lombardi made Tunnell one of his first acquisitions in 1959, I was eager to see his new cards as a Green Bay Packer. 

That never happened. In his three-year stay with the Packers, ending with his retirement following the 1961 season, Tunnell never cracked the Topps or Fleer checklists.

I was no longer following football when Tunnell was inducted into the Pro Fottball Hall of Fame in 1967 and didn't realize until recently that he was the first African American to be so honored. I don't recall even noting that he died in 1975, at only 50 years of age, while coaching with the Giants.

For much of the past decade, I've thought of Tunnell several times a years while driving I-80 between Wisconsin and central Pennsylvania. There is an Exit sign on the freeway in the western part of Pennsylvania for the town of Emlen. I'll have to stop some day.

So, when a trio of photos of Emlen Tunnell as a Green Bay Packer came up for sale on eBay a year or so ago, I knew I'd have to add some Tunnell-as-Packer cards to my custom card endeavors.

Both of the cards I created represent new "types" in my on-going efforts. There is a 1960 Topps-style card, shown here, and a 1961 Fleer-style card that I'll present tomorrow.

I've still got a Tunnell photo in reserve, and someday will likely complete my trilogy with a 1959 Topps-style custom card.

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