Monthly: August 2019


Baseball Card Vandals: Reinventing Worthless Cards

What will happen to the hobby of sports card collecting when the baby boomers pass on? Will Gen-Xers inherit their father’s expensive baseball card collection and then sell them? Will Generation Y care about a card that doesn’t have a jersey swatch in it?
Is the reason there is no more gum in packs of cards due to Millennials’ parents demanding all that sugar be removed?

Sports card collecting is entering a new phase. After the crash of the baseball card market in the mid 1990s, where parents were investing in cards on spec hoping to put their children through college on the proceeds, card companies began producing higher end cards in lower quantities. Pieces of bats, goal posts, and of course, jersey were imbedded into cards and were sparingly inserted into packs. Autograph cards, also rarities, were put in pack increasing the demand for those high end cards. But what about the low end cards? The card of that favorite play you got an autograph from in the mall but never made the All-Star game? Most cards aren’t worth much, so what will happen with them. Will they just wind up in a landfill?

Two brothers found a use for those old commons with their Baseball Card Vandals venture. They hand draw on old card and create “new original art” with a touch of humor.

This card punks Tommy Lasorda

These one-of-a-kind cards are actually selling! Using Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook, and Twitter, brothers Bryan and Beau Abbott have figured out a way to use the millions of worthless cards and make them unique and re-collectible! Their premise is simple and straightforward: decent jokes on worthless cards. I quick perusal of their online store shows just how in demand some of their cards are! New cards are posted twice fresh daily.

Ned Flanders Hockey card sold for $50

I would describe these designs as a cross between Wacky Packages, Garbage Pail Kids and run of the mill sports cards – an eclectic mix for sure! The humor can be sophomoric, off-color, or downright hilarious as I found myself laughing out loud at several of the cards. I must confess that I never saw this niche in the marketplace erupting but God Bless ’em!

Check them out at or find them on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.


Ernie Barnes: Official Artist Of the AFL

I always find it interesting to see how athletes touch lives beyond the playing field. RetroCards features former pro football player Ernie Barnes in this entry. Though the average sports fan may not know him for his athletic contribution, they may have seen his work in television shows, in films, or on album covers.

Ernie Barnes played seven years of professional football, mainly in the old AFL, but became more known as a serious artist, dipicting African-American life in many of his paintings. The most famous of his paintings was called “Sugar Shack,” which featured prominently the 70s sitcom Good Times as well as on the cover of the Marvin Gaye album I Want You (1976).

Originally an unathletic child, he became captain of the football team in high school and state champion in the shot put. Ernie got a scholarship to North Carolina College at Durham, an all-black college (formerly North Carolina College for Negroes, now Carolina Central University).

The Washington Redskins drafted him in the 8th round of the 1959 draft but renounced the pick when they realized he was black. The NFL Champion Colts then picked him in the 10th round. While standing on the sidelines of the 1959 Championship game vs. the Giants, an emotion-filled Barnes rushed home to paint “The Bench” showing his teammates watching the game from the sideline. This painting, which Barnes always kept for himself, was donated to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2014.

Not making the last cut with the Colts in 1960, he signed with the new AFL’s New York Titans. After the death of teammate Howard Glenn in early October, 1960, he asked for his release. He was quickly signed by the Chargers and was added to the taxi-squad. There he made a a close friendship with quarterback Jack Kemp. During this time, Ernie illustrated several articles for the San Diego Magazine in the off-season. After being cut, he signed with the Denver Broncos. Nicknamed “Big Rembrandt,” he was often fined for sketching in team meetings.

In 1965 while with the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League, Ernie fractured his foot, effectively ending his career. Shortly after, he went to the AFL owners meeting in Houston in hopes of becoming the leagues official artist. In an unlikely turn, New York Jets owner Sonny Werblin kept Ernie on salary as a player, but used him for his artistic skill. Werblin saw his potential and his value to the country as a painter.

Timeline of Ernie Barnes career:
• Barnes sold his first painting Slow Dance at age 21 in 1959 for $90 to Boston Celtic, Sam Jones
• In 1971 Barnes wrote a series of essays (illustrated with his own drawings) in the Gridiron newspaper     titled I Hate the Game I Love
• Barnes created the painting The Sugar Shack in 1971. It gained international exposure when it was used on the Good Times television series and on the 1976 Marvin Gaye album I Want You.
• Jack Kemp and Ethel Kennedy, co-hosted an exhibition of his work in 1974.
autobiography, published in 1995 titled From Pads to Palette
• 1993 In 1993 Barnes was selected to the “Black College Football 100th Year All-Time Team” by the Sheridan Broadcasting Network. 
Barnes’ work appears on the following album covers:
• The Sugar Shack painting on Marvin Gaye’s 1976 I Want You
• The Disco painting on self-titled 1978 Faith, Hope & Charity
• Donald Byrd and 125th Street, NYC painting on self-titled 1979 album
• Late Night DJ painting on Curtis Mayfield’s 1980 Something to Believe In
• The Maestro painting on The Crusaders’ 1984 Ghetto Blaster
• Head Over Heels painting on The Crusaders’ 1986 The Good and Bad Times

• In Rapture painting on B.B. King’s 2000 Making Love is Good For You

As an actor TV shows: 
• To Tell the Truth
• Good Times

As a film actor:
• Movies: Number One

• Doctor’s Wives
• Super Comedy Bowl
• Don’t Look Back

Artwork also featured in television shows:
• Good Times
• White Shadow
• Columbo
• Dream On
• The Hughleys
• The Wayans Bros.
• Wife Swap
• Soul Food

Ernie passed away on April 27, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Visit the Official Ernie Barnes website for the complete story on his life.