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OCD Football Card Of The Day: 1971 Ray Nitschke August 18, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Football.
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It’s storytime, cats and kittens!

1971 was the first year I began collecting sports cards. Starting in the spring with baseball, my fave sport, I’d take the fifty cent allowance I got each week for not being TOO much of a pain in the ass, and walk the 3/4 mile each way (I just measured it on google maps) to what was then Adam’s Drugs (now a Dollar Tree, evidently) and buy 5 packs of 10 cards for a dime baseball cards.

They put ’em out in at least 6 “series” back then, meaning they’d sell segments of the entire set and change them every few weeks. You’d have to wait for a lot of your favorite players and stars, reading the checklist cards carefully to see what was out there, what was gone and what was coming.

Far too often, the local candy wholesalers would run erratic schedules, and combining that with packs left on the shelves meant some series of cards got incredibly short shrift. Looking over all the cards I bought in ’71, Series 4 and 6, the final one, are rather thin. 1972 was an even bigger set, and the final series of those had a very brief shelf life at Adam’s Drugs, as well as nationally. It’s why the “high number” cards even for commons are more expensive these days.

In ’73 and ’74, I bought whole boxes directly from a local wholesaler who didn’t mind selling single boxes to kids who collected cards. And Topps abandoned series in ’73, as well as cutting down the size of the set from 787 to 660. So, a box of packs held unlimited possibilities of what players I’d get. 24 packs to a box for two bucks at wholesale, a WAY better deal than Adam’s Drugs, once I’d saved my allowance.

Two bucks! Now look at what a box that’s managed to stay unopened since 1973 goes for at auction and cry.

In later years, I’d buy hand-sorted complete sets from ads in the back of The Sporting News. It was great to have the cards… but the anticipation/surprise of opening those wax packs was gone, and it was really part of the fun.

I didn’t miss the hard-candy textured shingle of industrial bubblegum that we always dreaded would be next to a card we really wanted in the pack, leaving that God damn gum stain on it.

Anyway, back in 1971 by the time we got to around this point in the year near Labor Day, the football packs would appear, followed by the basketball and hockey ones.

In the fall of ’71, I kept buying cards. I paid more attention to football than I did to baseketball or hockey. I only bought maybe 1 or 2 packs of those, but I bought football throughout the season. Only 2 series of cards to deal with, too. (more…)

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Random Football Cards Of The Day, Yardsale Edition December 1, 2012

Posted by Jim Berkin in 1970s, Football.
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One of the few sales I managed to get to today in between sale-destroyin’ rain showers had advertised 1970s era sports cards, so I drove over, hoping against hope I’d find some desperate crack addict willing to sell me his entire shoebox of ’70s era cards for twenty bucks or so… but alas, it was not to be.

Instead, I found what is to be expected nowadays – someone who offers lesser material at only a slight discount from the prices they research online. The internet has destroyed the odds of finding real treasures at garage sales. At least it makes up for that in a karmic fashion by providing endless porn.

But I digress.

Anyway, this old guy had a stack of old Life & Look magazines at high prices, including a couple I remember from my childhood, like the “Liz Taylor is 40!” cover or another about the JFK assassination. He had an odd collection of movie lobby posters for too much money (although The Day of The Locust was tempting even if Karen Black is horribly miscast in it… I could pass on the Johnny Whittaker Tom Sawyer poster.)

And in the CHEAP BARGAIN BOX…. some old ’70s football cards for a buck a pop. So, I rifled through ’em and came up with the following:

74JPlunkett There he is, Jim Plunkett, the Pats big hope back in the early ’70s, the #1 pick in the draft, before they gave up on him and went with Steve Grogan. Plunkett did decently for the Pats, along with his former Stanford teammate receiver Randy Vataha, but the team was going nowhere fast. When they traded him to the Niners for some draft picks & went with Grogan as the starter, they made the playoffs a few times and gave all of us lots of false hope. Plunkett wound up winning a Superbowl for the Raiders after coming off the bench to finish the season when Dan Pastorini broke his leg. Grogan provided the only highlights when the Pats went to the Superbowl and got destroyed by the Bears.

I have a vague memory of my dad happily touting Plunkett & Vataha’s possibilities at the dinner table one night… I feel bad that he didn’t live long enough to see Tom Brady come along. The Pats, much like the Red Sox in baseball, were the reliable losers year after year all the time I was growing up, and it’s easy to forget that once you spend more than a decade as a powerful dynasty (although the Sox had a shorter run at it once they finally shook the curse from their backs). Funny… years later, the Pats got the #1 pick overall in the draft and took Quarterback Drew Bledsoe, who led them to a Superbowl & wound up giving Brady the chance to start by separating his shoulder.

Bledsoe’s draft made all of us think how the Pats would rise from the 1-15 doldrums, back in the day when one of the few highlights on the team was this guy, coincidentally ANOTHER all-around #1 draft pick for the Pats – 90ScoreIFryar

Irving Fryar, a great receiver who provided far too much off-field drama, but when your team is 1-15, maybe that’s all you got.

This was one of the few other Pats cards in the dollar box, and since the first thing I thought of when looking at it was the time Fryar missed a game due to cuts on his hands after a knife fight with his wife, it made me smile & cough up another dollar.

Fryar had a lot of great moments with the Pats though.. he scored the only touchdown for them in that debacle against the Bears in the Superbowl, and remained a dependable receiver for years.

And has he redeemed himself from the days of knife fights with the little woman? You bet! He’s earned a Doctorate in Theology & is currently the President of the Burlington County College of Theology!

Not too shabby.

The last card I bought simply because it caught my eye for a particular reason:

John Hicks, a decent lineman for the Giants back in the ’70s who had a great college career. And he’s doing quite well these days as well, thank you very much.

77JHicks

But I LOVE this card!

What is he drinking?

He must be really thirsty.

Is it Gatorade & Topps airbrushed it out?

Or is it something else? A soda? A gin ‘n’ tonic? Maybe a Harvey Wallbanger, after all, it WAS 1977.

In any case, I looked at this card, immediately thought of that Laugh-In bit where Alan Sues walks up to the dirty western bar and says “I’ll have a banana daquiri!” and took out another dollar for it.

And I’m not sorry. Not one bit!

In fact, I think I’LL have a drink too.