Analysis. History. Perspective.

Sports Then and Now



They are The Topps! 10 Iconic Football Cards 0

Posted on April 18, 2020 by Dean Hybl

In this time when we are all spending time at home, I have spent some of my time looking at some of my old sports cards and memorabilia. As part of a new series about sports cards, I am starting by sharing 10 of my favorite football cards. Not necessarily my favorite players, but 10 cards that I think are cool, different or just unusual.

With a few exceptions, Topps Football Cards for their first couple decades were largely static pictures of players either as staged pictures or later pictures of players standing or sitting on the sidelines.

In 1972 the Sunoco Football Stamps came out with most of the pictures being awesome game action photos that were far better than anything Topps had ever produced on a football card. Beginning in 1972 with their own special action cards and then the next year in the regular series, Topps started trying to have more game action photos, though the results were a bit mixed.

Though cards produced in the last 30 years have gotten significantly better in terms of action pictures, my heart belongs to the Topps Football Cards from the 1950s through the 1970s, so all of my picks for this article are from that time period.

1973 MaCarthur Lane – Green Bay Packers

The 1973 Topps football card set was one of the first where Topps successfully incorporated action photos into the regular set as player cards. They were slightly hindered by the fact they could not show the team logos, so there are some cards with some interested color patches to block out the logos, but some of the action shots are pretty good.

My favorite of the action shots is the card of Green Bay Packers running back Macarthur Lane because it looks like he is holding a flat football. Though likely an illusion created by his hand, I remember seeing this card as a kid and thinking he was so strong that he flattened the football.

Lane spent 11 seasons in the NFL, playing for the Cardinals, Packers and Chiefs. His most productive season was with St. Louis in 1970 when he rushed for 977 yards and 11 touchdowns. Traded to the Packers before the 1972 season, he teamed with John Brockington to help the Packers reach the playoffs for the first time since 1967. In 1976, Lane led the AFC with 66 receptions while playing for the Chiefs.

He finished his career with 4,656 career rushing yards and 2,786 yards receiving. Lane passed away in 2019.

1958 – Lamar McHan – Chicago Cardinals

Though he spent 10 seasons as a quarterback in the NFL, there is a pretty good chance that you have never heard of Lamar McHan. However, from the first time I ever saw his 1958 Topps card, it has been among my favorites.

In 1958 Topps seemed to try and have some type of action within many of their cards, though they were clearly all staged as part of photo shoots. There is the iconic photo of Jim Brown running with the ball, but without his helmet.

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The Incredible Value of the 1952 Topps #311 Mickey Mantle Baseball Card 1

Posted on May 02, 2017 by Ross Uitts

It’s considered the most iconic post-War baseball card in the hobby yet it’s also commonly mistaken as his rookie card.

That’s right, the 1952 Topps #311 card is actually not Mickey Mantle’s rookie card.

That distinction would belong to the 1951 Bowman #253 card.

But even though that one is Mickey Mantle’s true rookie card, it’s actually his 1952 Topps #311 that is the more valuable of the two.

1951-Bowman-253-Mickey-Mantle-rookie-card

And as you might often expect, Mantle is a rare case where a player’s rookie card isn’t his most valuable.

So, why is that?

Well, the story is actually quite fascinating.

Topps has been the biggest name in sports cards since 1952 when they released their first official baseball card set.

And that’s the first of several factors that make’s Mantle’s 1952 Topps card so valuable: he was the most popular player in the industry juggernaut’s first set.  This immediately sends the card’s historical value through the roof. Even common cards of this set can fetch hundreds of dollars in top condition.

The second reason for its high value is because it’s way scarcer that you might expect.

To understand how scarce it is, you’ve got to remember that Topps and other manufacturers released baseball cards in multiple series. At the beginning of the 1952 baseball season, kids were chasing cards in Series 1, tearing through the 5 cent packs in search of their heroes. But Mantle was nowhere to be found. Series 1 only included cards #1-310, and Topps had earmarked Mantle to be card #311.

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  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Randy White: The Manster
      September 4, 2020 | 5:14 pm

      In recognition of the start of football season, we have selected a two-time All-American from the University of Maryland who went on to earn a spot in both the College and Pro Football Hall of Fames as our Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month.

      Randy White actually came to the University of Maryland as a fullback, but as a sophomore new head coach Jerry Claiborne recognized that he had the skills to be a great defensive lineman and quickly moved him to defense.

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