Yearly: 2020

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Those We’ve Lost in 2020: Part Three

This part three post of the many sports and pop culture figures we have lost in 2020.

Paul Crane, Helen Reddy, Jay Johnstone, Mike Tilleman, Tom Yewcic, Dick Nemelka, Charlie Pride, Matt Blair, Larry Wilson, David Lander, Whitey Ford, Ron Perranoski, Jake Scott, Gale Sayers, Bill Mathis, Alex Trebek, K.C. Jones, Joe Morgan, Milt Sunde, Ray Perkins, Phil Niekro, Gord Brooks, Bird Averitt, Ron Widby, Derland Moore, Bob Whitlow, Jimmy Orr, Tom Dempsey, Fred Dean, Loyd Phillips, and Louis Carter.

Thank you for checking out this special series of Those We’ve Lost.

 

 

 

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Those We’ve Lost In 2020: Part Two

 

This part two post of the many sports and pop culture figures we have lost in 2020.

Bob Oliver, Howard Mudd, Joe Beauchamp, Little Richard, Bob Watson, Dick Lucas, Earnie Killum, Tom Seaver, Rosey Taylor, Lee Grosscup, Wes Unseld, Mike McCormack Rodger Bird, Don Zimmerman, Dick Coury, Tom Vaughn, Paul Rochester, Claudell Washington, Oscar Brown, Dick Allen, Jim Frey, Wilford Brimley,  Carl Garrett, Mitch Hoopes, Lou Brock, Earl Thomas, Horace Clarke, Dave Lewis, Jim Kiick, Jerry Sloan, Stan Hindman, and Don Shula.

Part Three is to come!

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Those We’ve Lost in 2020: Part One

As time presses on, we continue to lose many sports figures and pop culture personalities from the RetroCards Era of 1955-1988. In this Part One of Those We’ve Lost in 2020, RetroCards offers a brief memorial by showing a “card that never was.”

Those who have passed and are featured here include: Herb Adderley, Sean Connery, Eddie Van Halen, Sam Wyche, Don Larson, Doug Hart, David Stern, Neil Peart, Allen Brown, Willie Wood, Orson Bean, Robert Conrad, Kelley Nakahra, Ja’Net Dubois, Nesby Glasgow, Gloster Richardson, Del Shofner, Lyle Waggoner, Benny Malone , Curly Neal, Mike Stratton, Jim Wynn, Goldie Sellers, Bobby Mitchell, Timmy Brown, Willie Davis, Mike Curtis, Ken Osmond, Willie Davis, and Ken Riley.

Some of the cards above exist in many RetroCards on this site, so use the search function to find your favorite players.

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The NFLs Golden Boy: Paul Hornung

The NFL’s Golden Boy, Paul Hornung, passed away at the age of 84 on November 13th, 2020. If you were to pick one player on Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packer teams that launched that dynasty in the 1960s, it would have to be Paul Hornung.

An unlikely NFL quarterback, the Heisman Trophy winner was drafted number one in 1957 to bolster the hapless Packers at time when the term “Titletown” was a distant memory. In his first two seasons Hornung was under utilized as a runner, receiver, and kicking specialist, tallying only 85 points in his first two seasons. Granted, the team went 3–9 and 1–10–1 in 1957 and 1958 respectively, but Hornung seemed to be a player without a position. A running quarterback at Notre Dame, it was probably a good thing he wasn’t throwing the ball. Then Vince Lombardi arrived in 1959.

With a keen eye for putting where it belongs, Coach Lombardi immediately made Hornung the feature back but also instilled him as a vital blocker for fullback Jim Taylor. His receiving and open field running skills left defenses wondering out how this slow-running “quarterback” was able to run all over them. The halfback option pass was a new weapon Lombardi used seeing Hornung complete 5 of 8 passes for 2 touchdowns.

1960 was his Hall Of Fame season where he racked up 176 points running, receiving, and kicking, a record that stood for 46 until LaDanian Tomlinson broke the record in 13 games (Hornung, of course accomplished the feat in 12 games). He also passed for 2 touchdowns.

A deceptively fast runner, he had the knack for putting a move on a defender as Lombardi explained: “In the middle of the field he may be only slightly better than an average ballplayer, but inside the 20-yard line he is one of the greatest I have ever seen. He smells that goal line.”

His pairing with Jim Taylor made them the most feared runners in the league, especially following the famed Packer power sweep. He led the league in scoring three straight seasons (1959-1961) before a pinched nerve in his neck and a gambling suspension sidelined his career.

 

Career Accomplishments:

• Heisman Trophy winner in 1956

• Finished nine-year career with 760 points on 62 touchdowns, 66 field goals and 190 extra points.

• NFL MVP in 1961

• Scoring leader in 1959, 1960, 1961

• Scored 176 point in 1960 in a 12-game season

• Also passed for 5 touchdowns

• He played on four championship teams (1961, ’62, ‘65 and ’66)

• Scored five touchdowns against the Baltimore Colts in 1965

• Was selected by New Orleans in the 1967 expansion draft, but never played a game for the Saints, instead retiring.

• Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1986.

• His #5 was unofficially retired by Vince Lombardi

 

His talent was noticed even in the White House. Hornung almost missed the Packers’ 1961 title game when he was summoned to duty by the Army, but a call from Lombardi to President John F. Kennedy led to Hornung being granted leave.

Said Kennedy in arranging the leave, “Paul Hornung isn’t going to win the war on Sunday, but the football fans of this country deserve the two best teams on the field that day.”

Hornung scored 19 points — then a title game record — on one touchdown rushing, three field goals and four PATs in the Packers’ 37-0 win over the New York Giants.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement that Hornung “thrilled a generation of NFL fans with his versatility, athleticism and personality.” Goodell added that Hornung was “instrumental in growing the popularity of the Packers and the National Football League.”

Above are several RetroCards that are featured in many team sets found at RetroCards.net.

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Washington Federals – Lovable Losers of the USFL

If you are a fan of the old USFL, then you are probably familiar with the league’s best teams and players. But fans must take the bad with the good and the Washington Federals were one of the truly hapless teams of that era. The 1983 the new United States Football League had plenty of hurdles to clear and one of the league’s successes was they put very competitive teams on the field. In fact, by 1984 the talent level rose to NFL levels. The Federals were not among these and though their record was worse than their talent, the Feds encountered bad luck, untimely injuries, and close losses that built a tradition of losing for 2 seasons.

Compiling a 4–14 record in their inaugural season, the Federals did offer some exciting play with wanna-be stars such as Joey Walters, Craig James, and Doug Greene. Old time NFLers like Coy Bacon, Kim McQuilken, and Reggie “Super Gnat” Smith all started. But despite great hopes and cool uniforms, the team couldn’t find ways to win. Locals mockingly referred to them as the Washington Generals, the losing traveling team that alway played the Harlem Globetrotters.

Wanting to shed the memories of their 1983 season, the Feds donned new uniforms for the 1984 season only to be handed  a humiliating loss at the hands of the expansion Jacksonville Bulls 54–14. They actually performed poorer in 1984, posting a 3–15 record after losing star running back Craig James for the season. Their biggest trouble was at quarterback where the likes of Mike Hohensee and Reggie Collier did their best with limited resources.

RetroCards honors this fan-favorite team with an 18-cards set of that first season of 1983. Photographed in their white-helmet uniforms, this set includes: Mike Hohensee, Coy Bacon, Bob Barber, Jeff Brown, Gregg Butler, Mike Corvino, Bubba Diggs, Doug Greene, Mike Harris, Willie Holley, Myke Horton, Craig James, Dan Lloyd, Kim McQuilken, Reggie Smith, Billy Taylor, Joey Walters, and former CFL head coach Ray Jauch. Check it out here!

 

 

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Spotlight: The Johnstone-Monday Connection

Two old school baseball players from the 70s and 80s that I grew up admiring were Rick Monday and Jay Johnstone. Neither played for my hometown team but as I collected baseball cards, those two players always stood out to me. When the Los Angeles Dodgers made their World Series run in 1981 I had fun watching Monday and Johnstone make big contributions on the road to the Dodgers World Series victory. I’ve always been partial to role players and Johnstone and Monday were unlikely heroes on a team chock full of stars and great players. That Dodger team seemed to be having fun and didn’t take things too seriously and Johnstone in particular, added humor along the way with his many pranks in the clubhouse.

Both players seemed like brothers and I was surprised that they had some interesting things in common:

  • they were born on the same day (November 20th)
  • both served in the Marine Corps Reserve
  • both bath left
  • they each played for the A’s, Cubs, and Dodgers
  • started MLB careers in 1966
  • their pro baseball-playing careers lasted 2 decades
  • they had similar career batting averages (Johnstone: .267, Monday: .264)

1981 Game Winning Efforts

Rick Monday: In the deciding Game 5 of the NLCS in Montreal vs. the Expos (played on a Monday afternoon due to an earlier rain out) he smashed a 2-run homer to win the game. This was the closest the Montreal Expos ever got to winning a pennant and to this day is known in Canada as “Blue Monday.”

Jay Johnstone: Hit a pinch-two run home run in Game Four of the 1981 World Series against the New York Yankees, the home run rallying the Dodgers from a 6–3 deficit to win 8–7. The victory also enabled the Dodgers to tie the Series at two games each; they won the next two games to win it all.

Other Notable Achievements

  • Monday rescued the American flag from being burned by two fans in center field at Dodger Stadium in 1976. He said after the game, “If you’re going to burn the flag, don’t do it around me. I’ve been to too many veterans’ hospitals and seen too many broken bodies of guys who tried to protect it.” Monday still has the flag he rescued from the protesters; he has been offered up to $1 million to sell it, but has declined all offers.
  • While with the Angels, Johnstone preserved Clyde Wright’s no-hitter against the Athletics by catching a Reggie Jackson fly ball 400 feet from straightaway center field, just in front of the wall (July 3, 1970).
  • As a Phillie, Johnstone went 7-for-9 in the 1976 National League Championship Series against the Cincinnati Reds. However, the Reds swept the Series.
  • Both appeared on Solid Gold and sang their own rendition of Queen’s hit, We Are the Champions with teammates Steve Yeager and Jerry Reuss.

Above are samples of cards from the forthcoming RetroCards sets. You’ll find the 1982T Dodgers RetroCards set here.