Sunday, April 27, 2008

Congrats Donnie Avery - 2008 Upper Deck Draft #28

Congratulations to Donnie Avery being selected #33 and the first wide receiver selected in the 2008 NFL draft. Also congratulations to all of the Coogs who signed free agent contracts. Good luck to all of you. We're extremely proud.

Today's collectible is the 2008 Upper Deck Draft #28. There are several Donnie Avery autograph cards out there already, but this may be my favorite. Nice photograph covering the entire card although the autograph covers some of the picture. Press Pass is my 2nd favorite. Another nice photo and the Cougar logo. It's actually a cleaner looking card, but much smaller picture. My least favorite is the SAGE Hit card. Bad picture and the autograph is overpowered by the logo underneath.

Friday, April 25, 2008

1986-87 Fleer 82 Hakeem Olajuwon

I've been surfing the web lately to learn more about card collecting so I've been reading other collectors' blogs. Because I've spent most of my life in the DFW area, one of the blogs I read is Texas Rangers Cards. Something he does on his site is feature Ivan Rodriguez cards every Monday. I loved the concept so I thought I'd incorporate that here.

But who do I feature every week? There are several players in many sports that are worthy of being featured every week, but I think there is one clear cut choice. He has the most basketball cards and is the player with the most search referrals to this site. That player is Hakeem Olajuwon. So look forward to Hakeem Saturday on every week.

Let's start with the granddaddy of Olajuwon cards, the 1986-87 Fleer #82. This is considered to be Olajuwon's Rookie card. There were earlier cards published by Star, but this was the first licensed major release.

Because it is the rookie card, it is an important collectible, but I just don't find this card to be attractive. The red, white, and blue border is not very attractive and clashes with the rest of the card, especially the Fleer logo. The picture is an OK action shot, but a player trying to post up to receive a pass don't make for the most exciting photo. Usually you at least want a ball in a basketball action shot.

The back of the card is VERY plain: Two years of pro stats and some basic info. About half of the card is blank. I understand that photos weren't on the backs of cards in those days, but couldn't they at least put some fun facts or additional information to fill up the rest of the card?

Not the nicest card, but it is historical and this set re-started basketball card collecting. This card used to go for well over $100. Now you can find an ungraded card for under $20.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Thank You for 1000 Visits - My Greatest Piece of UH Memorabilia

A year ago I started this blog on a whim. I knew nothing about blogging and the only thing I knew about card collecting from from the late 1980s and prior. I knew some about UH athletic history, but not as much as I could.

I thought maybe I'd get a couple of visits a week and I'd probably get tired of writing. For the first six months, I never had more than 50 visits in a month and a couple of months I didn't even break 20, but since the start of the year I've averaged over 160 visits a month.

I'd like to thank everyone who has ever visited my blog. Some of you are regulars. Some probably came to the site, saw it wasn't what you wanted and left, never to return. But I appreciate every one of you. Hopefully you've enjoyed yourself, learned something, and become more enthusiastic about the University of Houston.

Today's collectible is by far my most expensive and most valuable University of Houston collectible. It means so much to me and although I've had it for 17 years, it is still important to me. It is my University of Houston diploma.

In my five years at UH, I learned so much, had some great times and some not so good. Made some good friends and memories.

I'd like to give some advice now. I haven't always followed this advice myself, but I still think it is good information.

To current and future UH students: You get out of school what you put into it. Many say that UH is a commuter school and you don't get that traditional college experience. I didn't go to another university so I have nothing to compare it to, but I think I had a great college experience. Part of it may be because I lived on campus, but alot of it is because I participated in many campus events. I tailgated and painted my face for football games, even at the Dome where tailgating was discouraged, regardless of whether the team was horrible (1-10 my freshman year) or great (Heisman baby!). I went to basketball and baseball games, volleyball and tennis matches. I went to plays and concerts. I played intramural football and softball (on some decent teams) and basketball (we were horrible. We even lost a game to a team with only four players). I was a cheerleader for powder puff football and went to various organization functions.

There are things that I didn't do that I wish I had. I never went to a fraternity party or officially joined any organizations. But I did have a great time with all of the things that I did participate in.

So students, go to athletic events. Go to a step show. Go to a fraternity event. Participate in something that you've never done before. It's much easier while you're in school than after you get out.

To alumni/former students: Keep in touch with your school. It's easy to lose your connection. After I graduated, I moved back home to the Dallas area and became disconnect from UH. Thanks to, I got back in touch. One thing I really regret is not keeping in touch with my college buddies. These are people who shared some of the greatest and worst moments of my life. I think of them every now and then and hope they're doing well.

For everyone: Take pride in your school. Good or bad, be true to your school. Don't adopt another school no matter how hard things get or how successful another school is. This is not just a UH issue. I've seen this happen with people from other schools especially UNT which I live near.

Learn about your school. I've impressed people who knew nothing about UH with my knowledge of the school. They respected my dedication to the school and appreciated UH because of my enthusiasm.

I'll get off my soapbox now. Again, I want to thank all of you for visiting my blog. Please feel free to comment or e-mail me at I'd love to hear from you.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

1971 Globetrotters #54 & #55 - Theodis Lee

Lou Dunbar is probably the most famous Cougar to play for the Harlem Globetrotters, but he is not the only one and not even the first. 10 Cougars have played for the Globetrotters at some point in time. The first to do so was Theodis Lee.

Lee played at UH from 1966 to 1969. He was a starter in the Game of the Century in 1968. He was co-captain with Ken Spain for the 1968-1969 team. He is in the top 50 scorers all time at UH and is a member of the 40 point club by putting up 40 on UNLV in 1969.

After leaving UH, he joined the Harlem Globetrotters where he played for several years. He was in some of the Globetrotters more famous live action shows like The Harlem Globetrotters On Gilligan's Island and The Harlem Globetrotters Popcorn Machine. Checkout out Theodis Lee in this clip of the intro and closing of the Popcorn Machine.

Today's collectibles are cards #54 & #55 from the 1971 Globetrotters set. This set consisted of 84 cards with most players having multiple cards. I love these cards. Brightly colored backgrounds. And how can you not like Lee's afro and beard combination? These cards just embody the spirit of the late '60s/early '70s.

Card #54

Card #55

Friday, April 18, 2008

2008 Press Pass Reflector - Donnie Avery

My last post gave a preview of several of the Donnie Avery cards coming out soon. Now on eBay, 2008 Press Pass cards featuring Donnie Avery are available. I haven't been able to find a checklist for Press Pass, even on their website, but I'll post an image to whet your appetite. This card is a 2008 Press Pass Reflector. Also available are autographed cards including red ink variants.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Upcoming Cards - Donnie Avery

Donnie Avery cards are to be available soon.
In the SAGE High Series, it will be card #99 and there will be autographed versions. I couldn't find a release date for this although it appears to be in April. Here's the checklist.

He will also be in Topps Rookie Progression Football to be released on 5/14/2008. He will be card #211 including Bronze, Silver, Gold, & Platinum variations. Other inserts include a Rookies card, Platinum Autographed Relic, Progression Relic, Progression Single Relic, Progression Dual Relic, Progression Triple Relic, and Senior Letters Autograph. Here's the Product Sheet.

Those are the only new UH football cards I've seen so far. I'll try to keep an eye out for more. Also I'll try to post pictures as I find them.

Edit... Found some more Avery cards. 2008 NFL Upper Deck Draft Edition #31. Includes Red, Blue, Black, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Green, Autograph, Red Autograph, Blue Autograph, Black Autograph, Gold Autograph, and Platinum Autograph variations.

2008 NFL Upper Deck #230 including Star Rookie Autograph variation.

2008 NFL SPx #RS19 Rookie Signature including Parallel 1, 2, & 3 variations.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Congratulations Hakeem - Living the Dream

Congratulations to Hakeem Olajuwon for being selected for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Obviously this was a no brainer. He is still the all-time NBA shot blocker. #1 draft pick. 2 NBA championships. The only player in NBA history to win the MVP, Finals MVP, & Defensive Player of the Year in the same season. One of the NBA's top 50 players of all time.

Of course he has incredible college stats too. 3 Final Fours. Member of Phi Slama Jama. Consensus All-American. Southwest Conference Player of the Decade for the '80s.

Now if we can just get Guy V Lewis into the Hall.

Today's collectible is his autobiography, Living the Dream. This is one of the better sports autobiographies I've read. So many of these books are just a recounting of stats and games. Since Hakeem's life story is so different from most players, his biography is different too.

His story covers growing up in Nigeria, his time with the Cougars, and his time with the Rockets. But it doesn't just cover basketball. Not only was Olajuwon a great player, one of the reasons I like him so much is he's a great man. One of my favorite stories about Olajuwon's shoe endorsement. Unlike most athletes, he wanted his shoes to not only be high quality, but also to be affordable. But I think this story also reflects poorly on American society. Because they weren't the most expensive, trendiest shoes on the market, they didn't succeed at a high level in the market.

This book is definitely required reading for all UH and Olajuwon fans.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

1992 Classic #67 Sam Mack

The NCAA tournament is almost over. Go Memphis! Win it all for Conference USA.

But this is a Houston blog, so let's look back at the last time UH was in the tournament. Unfortunately that was 1992, but hopefully we'll be back soon. UH had a 25-6 record that season, but lost as the 10 seed to Georgia Tech.

The leading scorer that season was Sam Mack who averaged 17.5 points. Although Mack wasn't drafted, he did bounce around the NBA for seven years, also playing in the CBA and the Spanish League.

Today's card is the 1992 Classic #67. I like this card because it shows Mack in his UH uniform shooting over two SMU players.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

1960 Topps #524 Bill Henry

Baseball season has begun, so let's look at a card from a Cougar ballplayer. But this isn't just any Cougar, this is the first Coog to make the major leagues, Bill Henry.

Bill Henry played for UH's first baseball team in 1947, but he only played one season. He played 16 years in the majors as a pitcher, primarily as a reliever. In 1960, he made the National League All Star team. In 1962, he pitched in two World Series games. Click here for career stats.

That's interesting enough, but there are some odd stories related to Bill Henry. First, is the story of how he was scouted for the pros. The story goes that he made all-state in high school as a basketball player, but his school didn't have a baseball team. He was signed after a scout saw him pitch in a fast-pitch softball league. That's a great story, but I'm curious how pitching at UH fits into that timeline.

The wilder story is the premature report of his death. Evidently another person named Bill Henry had been pretending to be the baseball player for decades, fooling even his wife. Upon his death, it was reported that he died to the great surprise of the real Bill Henry and his family. UH's Bill Henry is still alive and well, but here are a couple of stories about his fake death:
Major League Fake
Untimely Death

Today's card is the 1960 Topps #524. This is not his rookie card (1955 Bowman) and it doesn't mention UH like his 1961 Topps card, but I love the look of this card. The front has a head shot with a stadium backgroun and an "action" shot with a yellow background. The back contains season and career stats as well as season highlights.