Monthly: July 2016


Spotlight On: Nate Thurmond, A Center’s Center

Topps Fleer RetroCards custom cards that never were

The passing of Nate Thurmond on July 16, 2016 made me think of some of the important NBA players I grew up watching and admiring.  Nate Thurmond was the player that made me realize what the center position was all about.  Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was on my home town team but it was watching Thurmond that help me understand what the role of a center was.  Some of today’s NBA centers could learn a thing or two from watching old Nate.

A Hall of Famer and one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History, Nate Thurmond played 14 seasons starting with the San Francisco Warriors in 1963.  He played in the shadow of teammate Wilt Chamberlain but blossomed into an NBA star after Chamberlain was traded to Philadelphia.  Thurmond became a regular All-Star and member of the NBA All-Defensive Team, averaging over 20 rebounds per game from 1967-68 season through the 1971-72 season.  Despite teaming with star Rick Barry, the Warriors were unable to defeat Chamberlain’s mighty 76ers in the 1967 NBA Championship.

A trade to the Bulls in 1974 saw the NBA’s first official quadruple double recorded by Thurmond on October 18, 1974.  However, he was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers the following season where he played out his career in his home state.  He helped the Cavs reach the NBA Eastern Conference Finals in 1976 and played a final season in Cleveland before retiring in 1977.  His number 42 is retired by both the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers. RetroCards honors one of the true NBA gentlemen with several new Nate Thurmond cards that never were.


The Waltons: No Longer Playing “Hard To Get”

Topps test set waltons, retrocards custom cards that never were 1972 1973 1974

Looking back on the 1970s, it amazes me how many different TV shows and TV personalities had board games, record albums, lunch boxes, and bubblegum cards.  Wasn’t our economy a bit shaky then?  If so, you would never know it judging on the consumption of the aforementioned pop cultures artifacts.  Charlie’s Angels, The Partridge Family, Welcome Back, Kotter, The Bionic Woman, Good Times and many other shows are well-represented on bubblegum cards but other shows didn’t get that privilege.

One of the decade’s bigger TV drama hits was the Waltons, a depression-era and World War II family that lived in rural Virginia on Walton’s Mountain.  A top-20 show in its first six seasons,  The Waltons got the usual 1970s pop culture treatment with a lunchbox, board game, record album, and was the subject of a Norman Rockwell painting. A bubblegum card set was piloted and proofs of the 55-card set were released but it never got past that stage.  Those cards today cost in the hundreds of dollars per card and are highly sought after.  The attractive pink-bordered cards are reminiscent of the designs of the time and features the Walton’s large cast.

RetroCards has created their own set based on the original design, changing the hot pink borders to light blue.  This 18-card set features characters and episodes from the first two seasons as well as a wrapper card of the original test set.  Poor collectors will now be able to afford to get the John-Boy rookie card in this attractive new set. Familiar faces include the Walton family, Baldwin Sisters, Ike Godsey, a young John Ritter as the Reverend, a wrapper card (from the original test set) and more! Get it here.


1963 Redskins: Hard Times, Hard Knocks

Topps 1963 Washington Redskins, RetroCards, custom cards that never were

A colorful franchise, with a rich history in professional football that goes back to the 1930’s, the Washington Redskins are one of the most popular teams in pro sports. The 1960’s, however, were not so colorful, except for their uniforms, as the franchise languished at the bottom of the NFL. Coming off a 5-7-2 season in 1962, the “Skins”, under Head Coach Bill McPeak, would sink deeper into the doldrums in 1963, winning only 3 games against 11 losses.

Although the team would have to wait nearly a decade for their next winning season and post-season appearance, the Redskins had their loyal fans. They played a rough style of football, and their burgundy and gold uniforms, with the iconic spear on the helmet, drew crowds on cold autumn days. RetroCards, always expanding the equally colorful 1963 football card style, now brings more of the ‘Skins history to life with this 18-card set.  Figures of the franchise from the early ‘60’s include Vince Promuto, Joe Rutgens, Bob Pellegrini, Andy Stynchula, John Paluck, Jim Steffen, and the Khayat brothers, Ed and Bob.  Players that would achieve fame later with other teams include Johnny Sample, Bill Anderson, and Ron Snidow. Unsung contributors, especially those mudders in the trenches, get their due, such as Fran O’Brien, Fred Hageman, Gorden Kelley, Harry Butsko and others.

The glamour of pro football didn’t only reside with the championship teams.  Sometimes it lay dormant with the franchises in their hard times.  So, if you are a hardcore ‘Skins fan through it all, a fan of the style and color of the 1963 cards, or a discriminating collector of pro football history, here’s your chance to awaken more of the hidden glory that is the Washington Redskins. Get it here.


1974 Cowboys: A Basketball Design

Topps RetroCards custom cards that never were Dallas Cowboys

The mid 70’s was a great era for sport card designs; lots of wild colors, big afros, and  over-the-top fads.  That’s why RetroCards has created a new Dallas Cowboys set utilizing a 1974-75 basketball card design.  This was always a favorite design of mine and takes me back to my childhood when I would buy bubble gum cards at my local hobby shop.  This set features game action or sideline shots of some of the Cowboys biggest stars of the time and some that many probably have forgotten.

The 1974 Cowboys were transitioning away from the old-timers that finally won a Super Bowl in 1971 into a more finesse team centered around Roger Staubach.  This season was the start of the second half of Staubach’s career where the Cowboys went to three Super Bowls in four years with
relatively the same team of players.

This set includes some obscure players such as Gene Killian, Duane Carrell, Calvin Peterson, Ken Hutcherson, Les Strayhorn, Bill Houston,
Bruce Walton, Dennis Morgan, Louis Walker, and Jim Arneson.  Stars and familiar faces include: Roger Staubach, Lee Roy Jordan, Drew Pearson,
Rayfield Wright, Cliff Harris, Jethro Pugh, Pat Toomay, and Jean Fugett. Get yours here.


Spotlight On: Mike Gaechter – Unheralded Hitting Machine

Topps, Fleer, Philadelphia cards, 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 football cards

The 1960s Dallas Cowboys had many stars and up-and-coming players that are well known to fans and football lovers.  However one player that has escaped attention is Mike Gaechter, who had a solid 9-year career starting in the Cowboys defensive secondary. Only four other Cowboys were fixtures on that defense over that same span: George Andrie, Chuck Howley, Cronell Green, and Bob Lilly. Gaechter (pronounced: `Gek-ter) was a play maker and punishing hitter, who played at a Pro Bowl level, yet never was elected. Eagle star receiver Pete Retzlaff said of him, “If I had him on me every Sunday, I would have gotten out of this business a long while ago.”

A former track star at Oregon, the Cowboys signed him as a free agent for his speed. Gaechter was a member University of Oregon’s world record setting team in the 4 x 110 relay, a team that also included future teammate Mel Renfro. Football was his second sport and did not start on the football squad until his senior year, while he was cultivating his track career.  He started his Cowboy career as a cornerback but was switched to strong safety in 1963. His interception totals are 21 for 420 yards (a 20 yard per return average) and he was a terror at pressuring place kickers.

His ball hawking skills were evident with his 5 interceptions during his
rookie season and on his record setting 101-yard interception return, a
team record that stood for 48 years. That return set another record
for two 100 yard plays in the same game (the other was a kick-off return
by Amos Marsh).

His career took a bad turn when he tore his achilles tendon in the meaningless Playoff Bowl vs. the Rams in January of 1970.  He spent the entire 1970 season on injured reserve and was traded in 1971 to the Redskins where he was cut at the end of training camp, ending his career. In his retirement, he sued the Cowboys for medical malpractice for the mishandling of his injury. He passed away in August of 2015 of heart failure after suffering from alzheimer’s disease.

Despite a long career with the Cowboys, Mike Gaechter never had a card. This has been remedied as Gaecther now graces several Cowboys RetroCard team sets along with many other players that were overlooked in the sport card world. Check them out here.