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Eddie LeBaron Tribute: Little Eddie Stands Tall

Eddie LeBaron was well represented on several Football cards, but some were missed. An early Cowboy card from 1961 showed him in a Redskin uniform so that was corrected on the above 1961 card. Some of these samples will be future releases to check back frequently!

By FRANK LITSKY APRIL 2, 2015 New York Times

Eddie LeBaron, an undersize quarterback who was a college Hall of Famer, became a Marine Corps hero during the Korean War and then played in the National Football League for 11 seasons, died on Wednesday in Stockton, Calif. He was 85. His death was confirmed by the University of the Pacific, where he led the football team to an undefeated season in 1949.
In a position where players are now routinely 6 feet 3 inches or taller, LeBaron was 5-foot-7, and his weight never reached 170 pounds. But he had no fear of scrambling. Grantland Rice, the celebrated sportswriter, called him the most mystifying T-formation quarterback he had ever seen. In 1955, Frank M. Blunk of The New York Times called him “daring, resourceful, mercurial.”

From 1946 through 1949, LeBaron played for the College (now University) of the Pacific under Coach Amos Alonzo Stagg. As a 16-year-old freshman, LeBaron was a quarterback, a safety, a punter and a deceptive ballhandler. In his senior season, his team finished with an 11-0 record, led the nation in total offense (502.9 yards a game) and set an N.C.A.A. single-season record of 575 points. He was a three-time all-American and was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1980. In 1950, Time magazine described his popularity as a college athlete: “To show how they felt, admirers showered him with gifts: a new Studebaker, a $1,000 diamond ring, two suits of clothes, matched luggage, a television set, a 12-gauge shotgun and a year’s supply of ammunition.”

The Washington Redskins of the N.F.L. drafted him in 1950, but before he began his professional career, he served in the Marine Corps as a lieutenant. He was wounded twice in Korea and was awarded the Bronze Star for valor — even though, John Nolan wrote in his 2006 book, “The Run-Up to the Punch Bowl: A Memoir of the Korean War, 1951,” LeBaron “may have been the first Marine officer to go into combat without ever having fired a rifle on a range.” He joined the Redskins in 1952 and was named the N.F.L. rookie of the year that season. In 1954, he moved to Calgary of the Canadian Football League because his college coach, Larry Siemering, had been named the team’s head coach and because LeBaron was upset with the Redskins’ coach, Curly Lambeau, who had criticized his play-calling. In 1955, with Lambeau retired and replaced by Joe Kuharich, LeBaron returned to the Redskins. He studied law at George Washington University in the off-seasons and earned a law degree in 1959.

He retired after the 1959 season to work full time as a lawyer in Texas. (“It’s time I gave my wife and children some permanent roots and a more normal home life,” he said at the time.) But the Dallas Cowboys, preparing for their first season, talked him out of it, traded for him and signed him for $20,000, arranging a partnership in a Dallas law firm. In 1960, against the Redskins, LeBaron set an N.F.L. record for the shortest completed pass: two inches, for a touchdown. He played four years for the Cowboys before turning his job over to Don Meredith. In 11 N.F.L. seasons, LeBaron passed for 13,399 yards and 104 touchdowns. He was chosen for the Pro Bowl four times.

Edward Wayne LeBaron Jr. was born on Jan. 7, 1930, in San Rafael, Calif., and attended high school in Oakdale, Calif. Between his retirements from football in 1963 and law in 1997, he was an Atlanta Falcons executive, a television analyst, a manager of a brokerage firm and a land developer, as well as a consultant to the N.F.L. during negotiations with its players’ union. He is survived by his wife, Doralee; his sons, Edward III, Richard and William; and five grandchildren. LeBaron said that overcoming his lack of height was not that difficult. “I came over the top, and I got very, very few balls knocked down,” he once told an interviewer. “The big thing was the ability to move. If you have the ability to move and the intelligence to know how to read the defenses, you can find the lanes.”

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King Corcoran: A Poor Man’s Joe Namath

Since the dawn of athletic competition, the sports world has been littered with fallen, but colorful figures.  Some make a name for themselves with stellar athletic ability while others teeter between the brink of stardom and the halls of obscurity.  The somewhat unknown Jim “King” Corcoran belongs to the latter category and was one of the more gaudy sports figures that few have ever heard of.
Once called a “poor man’s Joe Namath,” Corcoran spent most of his pro football career tearing up the semi-pro Atlantic Coast Football League.  He also found success in the World Football league but only had minor stints with some NFL clubs in the late 60s and early 70s.  He orchestrated several championships for teams in the Atlantic Coast Football League and lived out the life of a sports superstar.
Born on July 6, 1942 (not in 1943 as often reported) his play in college earned him tryouts with AFL and NFL teams but he often clashed with authority and since his skills weren’t good enough to warrant teams putting up with any shenanigans, his stints were always short lived.  Joe Namath told him, “King, you got the arm. And you got the head. But you got to quiet down. You got to know who butters your bread.” He discovered his niche in semi-pro football where he led his teams to several league championships. He was well known enough that the character “King Sturtevant” was based upon him in the Rockford Files episode “No Cut Contract.”
By the time he hit the WFL in 1974 he was already 31 years old but he managed to lead the league in touchdowns in 1974 playing for the Philadelphia Bell.  He retired after the WFL folded in 1975 and went into real estate.  He contemplated a comeback when the USFL’s Denver Gold called him in 1982 but he declined.
He continued with an up and down career, a low point coming in 1997 when he served six months in federal prison for tax evasion. He died of a heart attack on June 19, 2009 at the age of 66 while living at a friend’s house in Takoma Park, Maryland.
Time line of Corcoran’s football career:
1961 University of Maryland – Led freshman team to undefeated season
1962 University of Maryland – backed up Dick Shiner
1963 University of Maryland – kicked off the team
1964 University of Maryland – projected at the starter but broke his ankle
1965 University of Maryland – played sporadically
1966 Denver Broncos training camp – cut
1966 Wilmington Clippers – Atlantic Coast Football League
1967 Denver Broncos training camp – cut
1967 Waterbury Orbits (Connecticut) – Atlantic Coast Football League Champions
1967 New York Jets – taxi squad
1968 Lowell Giants (Massachusetts) – Atlantic Coast Football League – Undefeated until Corcoran joined the Patriots
1968 Boston Patriots – played sparingly
1969 Pottstown Firebirds (Pennsylvania)  – Atlantic Coast Football League
1970 Pottstown Firebirds (Pennsylvania)  – Atlantic Coast Football League
1971 Philadelphia Eagles – cut in training camp
1971 Norfolk Neptunes (Virginia) – Atlantic Coast Football League Champions
1972 Montreal Alouettes – CFL, refused to play 3rd string
1972 Chambersburg Cardinals (Pennsylvania) – Seaboard Football League
1973 Michigan Sabers (Flint, Michigan)
1974 Philadelphia Bell – WFL, lead league in TD passes
1975 Philadelphia Bell – WFL, backed up Bob Davis until the league folded mid-season
Some facts on the King:
• He majored in Economics at Maryland
• Wanting to shed his poor-kid background, he always dressed to kill and drove a fancy car
• His custom-equipped Lincoln Continental Mark IV had a mobile telephone, copier, coke machine, and bar.
• He is in the American Football Association’s Semi-Pro Hall Of Fame
• Didn’t smoke or drink
• Was a model for Kelley Tires in the late 1970s
• While with the Philadelphia Bell in 1975, he got cut when he called a quarterback sneak that wasn’t in the playbook.
• He was an expert in military history
• He spoke Mandarin Chinese and learned it while at University of Maryland
Some “King-sized” myths:
• Denver Bronco’s coach caught him in bed with 6 women.  The actual story had a Bronco running back caught with 2 women after bed check.  Corcoran was not involved with the incident.
• Corcoran claimed to have defeated Roger Staubach’s Navy team in the 1964 Crab Bowl.  This was erroneously reported by Wikipedia and repeated by several news sources in the wake Corcoran’s death in 2009.  Maryland beat Staubach’s Navy in 1961 with Corcoran throwing for 2 touchdowns and running for one more.
• He was not, as he later claimed, to be a native American who was born on a reservation.
• Didn’t get his nick-name by coming out at halftime of a high school game with a clean uniform after a muddy 1st half.
• Didn’t play polo with Sylvester Stallone.  He played with his father, Frank Stallone.
Unverified stories from the Corcoran Kingdom
• Corcoran later spent some time in Las Vegas as a singer and performed with Engelbert Humperdinck.
• He wore sunglasses on the sidelines and refused to practice in the rain.
RetroCards shines some light on this seldom-mentioned player with a few cards to put him on the sports collector’s map.  A special thanks to Jim Corcoran, King’s son, for providing several factual verifications. (Repost from 2018)
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1969 Buffalo Bills: Quarterback Infirmary

 

A Championship team two years earlier, the 1968 Buffalo Bills had the worst quarterback luck a team could have in one season. First, starter Jack Kemp and backup Tom Flores went out with injuries, then rookie Dan Darragh took a beating until his knee gave out. Kay Stephenson was next, getting knocked out with a broken collarbone. Finally running back / receiver Ed Rutkowski, a former quarterback at Notre Dame, finished the last three games of the season. Needless to say, the Bills finished with a league’s worst 1–12–1 record but it enabled them to pick USC running back O.J. Simpson with the first pick of the draft in 1969. Along with rookie quarterback James Harris, the Bills began a slow rebuild.

This RetroCards set offers some great old AFL stars and some future stars: Max Anderson, Stew Barber, Marlin Briscoe, Paul Costa, Tom Day, Elbert Dubenion, Tom Flores, James Harris, Harry Jacobs, Jack Kemp, Paul Maguire, Haven Moses, Ed Rutkowski, Marty Schottenheimer, Billy Shaw, O.J. Simpson, Mike Stratton, and an O.J. Simpson Training Camp highlight. Available now!
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Willie Davis: The Packers’ Dr. Feelgood

With the passing of another Lombardi-era Packer, one might take note of how many years we have behind us of wonderful sports memories, entertaining teams, and fascinating players. Willie Davis is one of those players who left a robust legacy that connected his Hall of Fame playing days with community.

Drafted in 1956 by the Cleveland Browns in the 15th round, Willie was committed to two years of military service, which may account for the Browns taking him so late in the draft. After two unspectacular years in Cleveland alternating at both defensive end and offensive tackle, Willie was traded to the Packers for the now forgotten A.D. Williams. Williams caught only one pass with the Browns before spending his final season with the expansion Vikings in 1961. Not a bad trade for the Packers.

Vince Lombardi quickly became a mentor to Davis telling him when the Packers traded for him, “I consider speed, agility and size to be the three most important attributes in a successful lineman. Give me a man who has any two of those dimensions, and he’ do ok. but give him all three, and he’ll be great. We think you have all three.”

Willie went on to have six All-Pro seasons including five Pro Bowl appearances to go along with five Championships. His nickname “Dr. Feelgood” was coined by roommate Jerry Kramer who noted that he never got injured.

Some quick but important achievements:
• He was one of four candidates considered for the NFL commissioner in 1989 to replace Pete Rozelle
• Was member of the Packers board of directors from 1994-2005
• Was an analyst on NBC for NFL games from 1970-1975
• Recorded 22 fumble recoveries, two safeties, and one touchdown
• Unofficially recorded over 100 sacks
• Played in 162 straight games (never missing even one in his 12-year career)
• He’s a member of the NFL 1960s All-Decade Team
• Inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1981

NFL films did an excellent video of him that can be found here.

Check out RetroCards.net for many of the cards shown above which can be found in many Packers RetroCards Sets.

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Three Forfeits Share One Thing In Common

The Decade of the 1970s never ceases to amaze and amuse sports fans.  It was a simpler time, full of quaint and heart warming stories that are still told on bar stools and in the stands of many a game.  However there were a few notorious moments that involved America’s Pastime that are getting the RetroCards treatment and those are the three forfeited games in that decade:  The Washington Senators final game (1971), Ten Cent Beer Night in Cleveland (1974), and Disco Demolition Night in Chicago (1979).  Each game has its own fascinating story but what links them together is that one athlete played in all three games:  Rusty Torres.

You can research the absurd and interesting situations surrounding each game and RetroCards is honoring these events with a special 4-card set; a Highlight (Lowlight?) card for each game plus a Rusty Torres Highlight card.

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Staying In? Look Through Some Old Cards!

RetroCards will continue to design, create and print old-style cards that we grew up with – we’ll keep you up to date on our production lines. In the meantime, stay in and go through your old cards, put them in those vinyl pages you’ve been meaning to do, and watch old games on YouTube. Stay safe.

I couldn’t find who created this so no credit can be given, but is it me or is this Gem Mint 10 a bit off center? Value goes way up if autographed by Mr. Whipple.