Saturday, January 20, 2018

50 Years Ago Today

Hard to believe a half century has passed since the Game of the Century played out on the floor of the Astrodome in 1968. I can't say 'I remember it like it was yesterday' but I do have a lot of memories of that night.

I've posted about the game several times so I won't repeat all that. I just have a few photos and rambling thoughts.

Here's a postcard I received recently as part of the mailing from Joe Shlabotnik featured yesterday. It's a beaut. We had first arrived in Houston that previous summer (July '67) and seen Astros games and Houston Cougar football games. So the Dome wasn't new to me but it was still awe-inspiring.

This is not my ticket but I do still own mine. I stored it in a plastic case a few years ago to protect it. I need to pull it out and have a display made with it. This one belonged to a high roller who paid $5 to sit in the red field boxes. I had a better view.

We had $2 seats in the front row of the upper level directly across from where this photo was taken. In baseball terms we were right up behind home plate. Funny thing is I ended up in that section as a student for UH football games for years and bought them as a young alum after I graduated.

I have a folder of game pics that I save from various online stories.

I have the program and some replica covers that UH gave away. This one I got signed by Guy Lewis and Elvin Hayes and a dinner held for Coach Lewis.

The roster pages from the program. They are hard to read but Vern Lewis was on the team....Guy Lewis' son. In those days colleges fielded freshman teams.

Mike Warren of UCLA went on to become an actor and starred in one of my favorite shows, Hill Street Blues. He's now Jessica Alba's father-in-law.

Here's Mike Warren as Officer Bobby Hill in HSB.

Playing that night in the prelim game for Tyler JC was one Poo Welsh who ended up at UH as a shooting guard. He was the star player when I got to campus.

The Coogs won 71-69. Inexplicably Elvin Hayes found himself dribbling out the clock as the final seconds ran down. He's said it was the worst moment of his career. He was by far the worst ball handler on the court. How he ended up plodding around the backcourt among UCLA guys reaching for the ball is a mystery.

Game Over!

I remember the crowds coming out of the stands in waves from each side and people jumping over the press rows and team benches which were below floor level. Crazy stuff.

It took my father and me a looong time to get out of the parking lot and headed home. There were newspaper vendors selling copies of the Houston Post and Chronicle in the lots and at the exits to the streets out of the backs of trucks. I have part of this Post front page. I chose to cut the relevant parts out and saved it.

Finally here's a really lousy pic I took of my signed Hayes poster showing him in the GOTC. Unfortunately the reflection on the glass is my office. LOL

January 20, 1968 was the greatest sports night I've ever experienced. I've noted many times that because of that I chose to return to Houston and attend UH even though my family had moved back to New Jersey in 1969. If I had gone to Rutgers, or Fairleigh Dickinson or Glassboro State like I had thought I would my life would have been far different. I'm glad it turned out the way it did.

Guy V Lewis RIP

Friday, January 19, 2018

Hey Joe

Joe Shlabotnik of the ever-entertaining Shlabotnik Report recently packed a manila envelope full of goodies and fired it my way. What he included hit a bunch of my collections so without any much further ado let's take a look. But first a note...I scanned about half of the contents of the envelope. I figured I'd show off a representative sample of the stuff Joe sent.

Joe mentioned that he'd been to a postcard show which stopped me in my tracks. A POSTCARD SHOW?!?! How have I remained unaware of these all this time? A quick search turned up a show calendar and what do you know? There is a Houston show scheduled for March. I'm all in.

I'm holding back one postcard because it ties in very well with a post I have scheduled for tomorrow. The one below is of the remarkable Teddy Roosevelt of course.

It's not from his lifetime but it's old enough that it predates the use of Zip Codes as you may be able to tell from the reverse side.

This next one is of the entire Roosevelt clan.

Check out the cent postage 'Domestic and Canada'. Have you tried to send anything to Canada lately? What did we do to piss them off?  Nevermind, I think I know.

Hey, hey it's LBJ! I'm a member/supporter of the LBJ Museum in Austin. They have been sending me info for years on their terrific events. Every one of them seemed to be held on a weekday. Now I'm retired and work conflicts are no more. I'm gonna make some appearances up there.

Of course Joe shoved a ton of Orioles cards into the envelope. Modern, vintage, foreign, shiny and on and on. The enigmatic Chris Davis kicked off the post with a nice reflective Bowman. The O's are committed to Davis for awhile...for better or worse.

These next cards are from the 90s. I knew that without checking the back even though I was nor real familiar with the sets. Gold foil, big script fonts...yup, the 90s.

This Jimmy Haynes is even a Laser cut thing. I have nothing like this in my collection. I see something this and I wish I had stuff like it when we were flipping cards at lunch time in the St Mary's School playground in Jersey in the 60s. It would have been like hurling ninja stars at a wall.

Here's a Pacific Eddie Murray. Is there anything in the hobby more 90s than Pacific? It's from his chunky period. You can divide his career up kind of like Elvis' into Skinny Eddie and Fat Eddie. Just don't tell him I said that.

More cards with gold embossed lettering. Flairs..with their goofy stylized font adornments.

Leaf Studio cards...if they gave awards for the 'Set That Looks Best In A Binder' Studio makes the nomination list, at least. That sig is in gold despite how my scanner makes it look.

Alan Mills. Baseball needs two rules: 1) no more than two catcher visits to the mound per inning (call it the Brian McCann Rule) and nobody wears a number higher than 66. Just because.

Jimmy Key...big honkin' script font.

Man, I like this Fleer set. Borders, decent team caps, readable names, colorful-ness. Pretty cool.  So sue me.

O-Pee-Chee Orioles! I have scattered examples of OPC Birds in my collection but these were all new to me. I prefer the OPC's that look just like the Topps versions but have the OPC logo/trademark.

Modern Orioles! Dig those stirrups on AJ10. OK, here's a third rule for more pajama-style pants.

Modern shiny Orioles!

I always forget that Jones was a Mariner. Nice trade, Baltimore.

There were more Orioles cards from the above sets. And amazingly I think only one was a card I already owned.

Joe also remembered my Manchester United love and hit me with several cards of Red Devils including the great David de Gea. Lord knows where the Reds would be this EPL season without him.

I have been to several Houston Dynamo games in previous seasons but I somehow missed this past year. But I do spend many Saturday morning with the Man U Supporters club watching EPL at a bar across the street from the Dynamo stadium a.k.a. The Orange Oven.

More de Gea. Do you ever wonder if anyone actually plays the games with these cards?

That was a cool shipment of cards, Joe. Many thanks! Oh, and here is the late,great Jimi Hendrix doing his classic 'Hey, Joe'. This one's for you.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Tales from the Card Show

OK, I really don't have any 'tales' of this past Saturday's hotel card show. I didn't even stay that long. But I did bring back a rather large piece of a set I've been working on (off and on) for a very long time...the Pete Maravich rookie from the 70/71 Topps hoops set.

It's a weird and wonderful set, maybe the last set I bought from packs before college life took over and I put collecting on a back burner. I'm waiting on an Amazon delivery of the six pocket sheets these cards require. I'm going to finally get this one organized and make an attempt to finish it in 2018.

It's also one of those sets in which the backs are more interesting than the fronts. The Pistol gets a glowing write-up on this one to go along with his vitals, his college numbers (he averaged over 44 points a game at LSU) and a cartoon that mentions that his father (Press Maravich) was his college coach.

I never saw Pete play in person as a collegian but I had just started working for the UH Rec/IM department when LSU played in a holiday season tournament against the Cougars in the Astrodome in 1971/72. Press was still their coach but the Coogs prevailed.

Speaking of the University of Houston....I was thrilled to see Case Keenum's magical moment on Sunday. That last play TD pass to Stefon Diggs and the ensuing media attention is something Case richly deserves after a long uphill fight to grab a bit of NFL glory. He was overlooked coming out of high school (UH was his only offer), ignored by the Heisman voters despite his eye-popping stats, spurned by the NFL scouts ('too small, weak arm, system qb' etc)and undervalued by the teams he played for. He's a class guy who deserves every second in the spotlight.

Houston's first alum to play QB in the NFL was this guy, Bobby Clatterback who was drafted by the New York Football Giants in 1954. He was a 27th round pick! He muscled his way past a couple of much higher previous picks to win the back-up job in New York and played for several years before finishing with the AFL's LA Chargers in 1960.

I guess finding his 1955 Bowman in the dollar bin at the show on Saturday should have tipped me off that Case was destined for a memorable weekend.

Almost all the hockey cards I add to my collection come through the generosity of fellow bloggers. But I managed to find a couple of Rangers in the bargain bins. Unless you were a Rangers fan in the 60s and early 70s it's hard to fathom just how popular Rod Gilbert was.

Jean Ratelle partnered with Gilbert and Vic Hatfield on a line known as the "GAG Line" in Goal A Game. When the Rangers traded him AND Brad Park to the Bruins for Phil Esposito I was beside myself.

These cards are from the 1969/70 Topps set. That was my last year to live in hockey country. I don't remember the stamps that apparently were inserts and were supposed to be applied to the back of the cards. The Cardboard Connection site says this:

Any card that has a stamp attached to its back will be considered to be damaged. 
To which I bull. Those stamps are awesome additions!

I grabbed a few other vintage cheapies as well. No specific reason other than I liked them and I knew that Darrell, the show promoter whose tables I haunt, would knock the price down to nearly nothing since I was buying the Maravich from him.

Love the old Browns uni and mascot on Lou Groza's 1955 Bowman. 

Of course Topps bought Bowman the following year and used the same pic on his '57 card.

Chuck Bednarik was famous for being a two-way player. He was a center and linebacker for the Eagles and was the guy old farts always mentioned when they were comparing the 'toughness' of then-current players and those of days gone by. I once bought a large print of the famous Bednarik photo of him standing over a KO'd Frank Gifford and was intending to mail it to him for signing when he passed away in 2015. He was a prolific signer who famously would inscribe a few lines about the hit. Check out the video below the '56 Topps I bought.

George Shaw's '56 Topps was one of several Colts cards I bought because they had a chance to be better than the ones in my All Time Colts collection binder. Shaw's card wasn't but one or two others were.

Finally I selected this 1956 Sandy Amoros. Why?  #1) I dig the set (who doesn't?) #2) It's got Yogi Berra there on the card, a fun guest appearance and #3) I'm sure someone out there needs this card.

That's pretty much all I could do in my short visit. I grabbed a few cards for some other bloggers but Darrell seems to have rotated his oddball box off his tables which was a disappointment. He had some real gems in that thing in months past. I forgot to ask him about it. 

The huge TriStar show blows through Houston next month. It's always fun to wander around a couple of hundred dealer tables of 'stuff'. Negotiating around the lines of folks waiting for the (seemingly) 4000 autograph signers..well that's a different story.