Saturday, June 28, 2008

1994-95 Stadium Club #79 Hakeem Olajuwon

The Stadium Club brand was best known for its photography. Today's card (1994-95 Stadium Club #79 Hakeem Olajuwon) is an example of the Stadium Club's stylistic photography, but I'm not sure it works on this card.

This photograph would probably work great as a print in a nice frame, but the card layout clashes with picture. The primary action in the picture is on the left side with Olajuwon beating Patrick Ewing to the hoop. Unfortunately the foil graphic of Hakeem's name covers Olajuwon's chest and Ewing's face. The middle of the card is just blank court space. The right side of the card has player spectators (including a Knick in a full face mask), but again, one of the players is covered by the Stadium Club logo.

So let's get the layout straight: Players on left, covered with graphic. Court in center, not covered by anything. Players on right, covered with graphic. Oops.

The back contains a couple more pictures and some basic statistics and commentary. There are also some odd statistics labeled Roundball Ratio. Your normal statistics usually include points, field goal percentage, etc. The Roundball Ratio includes Points to Field Goal Attempt Ratio, Free Throws Attempts to Field Goal Attempts Ratio, Offensive Rebounds to Total Rebounds Ratio, Steals to Turnover Ratio (that's fairly common for point guards), and Block to Personal Foul Ratio. I do like the Points to Field Goal attempt stat. That would be very beneficial in analyzing a player like Fluff McKiver. Since he shot so many three pointers, that really lowers the field goal percentage. By comparing points per shot, you can better compare three point shooters versus mid range and low post players.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

2001-02 Topps Pristine Sweat and Tears #OM-BO Bo Outlaw

Previously we've seen memorabilia cards of game used jersey pieces. Also there are cards with pieces of bats, balls, and other equipment, but I think this card is a real oddball.

Today's card is the 2001-02 Topps Pristine Sweat and Tears #OM-BO. So what type of memorabilia would go with sweat and tears? A towel of course. The card says this is an "Authentic Game-Used NBA Playoff Towel."

I would assume you wash a game used jersey before putting it in a card. I think you'd want to wash a towel too, but wouldn't that defeat the sweat and tears concept? I guess you can say that the player wiped his sweat and tears away with the towel, even if the sweat and tears are no longer on the towel after cleaning.

Parts of a game worn jersey seems like a cool concept because the jersey represents the team or player. Part of a towel? Not the same. What's next? I haven't seen game used socks. Maybe sweatbands. As long as we never get game used jock straps. No thank you.

Monday, June 23, 2008

1991 Pro Line Portraits Autograph #143 Eugene Lockhart

I grew up in the Dallas metroplex so I have been a Dallas Cowboys fan all of my life. After I decided to go to school at the University of Houston, I became a huge Cougar fan. When you combine those two interests, I have a great fondness for players who are both a Coog and a Cowboy. One of those players is Eugene Lockhart.

Eugene The Hitting Machine played for UH from 1981-1983. He was co-captain of the 1983 team with Duane Losack and Dwayne Love. He led the team in tackles and was named second team All Southwest Conference by UPI. Unfortunately, that wasn't one of the Coogs better seasons with a record of 4-7.

Lockhart was drafted in the 6th round by the Cowboys. He went on to a solid career playing 7 years with the Cowboys and 2 years with the New England Patriots. In 1989, he led the NFL tackles and was named All-Pro.

Today's card is the Pro Line Portraits Autograph #143. I loved when these cards came out. First the setting for the pictures were so different than any other card. The players were either in work out or casual clothes instead of the normal full uniform game pictures. This allowed for a better look at the player because they weren't wearing a helmet. It also allowed for some more creative pictures. I need to post the 1992 card of David Klingler in his boots and cowboy hat leaning on a tractor. The backs of the cards contained a lengthy quote from the player along with another picture. While I love statistics on cards, these quotes were supposed to get your closer to the player just like the casual photos did.

This set was also one of first I remember having widespread autographs of several players. Prior to this set, I remember very rare inserts of the biggest stars, generally of the past, which you couldn't get without opening a ton of packs or paying a huge amount from a card shop for the single. With this set, even the average collector might be able to pull an autograph from a pack or buy the single autograph at a fairly reasonable price.

Lockhart looks he's just finished a hard workout on this card with a sweat soaked shirt. The camera angle with only sky in the background is a nice touch. I just hope he didn't wear that huge gold chain while playing football.

Overall I love this card and set. I also have the autographed Andre Ware and non-autographed Jack Pardee from the set.

Monday, June 16, 2008

1976 Topps #179 Earl Thomas

One of my favorite things about writing this blog is researching players that I know little about. Today I'm looking at Earl Thomas.

Thomas played tight end for the University of Houston from 1968 to 1970, one of the most productive offensive eras in UH history. There wasn't much information on Thomas in last year's media guide, so I turned to the Dallas Morning News archives from 1970.

1970 season highlights for Earl Thomas included:
9/19/1970: Versus Syracuse, he had a 62 yard TD run
11/14/1970: Versus Wyoming, he caught a 65 yard TD pass from Gary Mullins.
11/21/1970: Versus Wake Forest, he caught a 47 yard TD pass from Joel DeSpain.
12/5/1970: Versus Miami, he threw a 47 yard end around TD pass to Elmo Wright

Thomas was the second leading receiver for the Coogs in 1970 behind Elmo Wright. He played in the North-South Shrine game and was drafted in the 6th round by the Chicago Bears.

Today's card is the 1976 Topps #179. This is a typical Topps football card of the '70s, fairly poor photography with basic statistics on the back. But I grew up with these cards so I still like them.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

1984-85 Star #237 Hakeem Olajuwon

While the 1986-87 Fleer is considered Hakeem's rookie card, it is not his first card. Star Company released five cards in 1984-85 and 1985-86.

Star cards were licensed by the NBA, but Star was not considered a major manufacturer with limited release and sometimes regional releases.

Today's card is Olajuwon's first card the 1984-85 Star #237. The front consists of an action photo with Hakeem holding the ball down low looking like he's about to blow by a much slower center. The border is yellow that ties in with the old Rockets logo.

The back is very basic with University of Houston statistics as well as other information like date of birth, height weight, schools, etc.

Overall a nice, but not great card. Good photography and layout, but it's very basic and a fairly low budget looking card compared to cards of today and even some vintage cards.

Friday, June 13, 2008

1992 Houston Motion Sports #14 Linton Weatherspoon

From the Daily Cougar, Former UH football player dies.

Rest in peace, Linton.

Our prayers are with Chuck and the rest of the Weatherspoon family.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

1969 Bengals Tresler Comet #13 Warren McVea

Although it has been 40 years since his career ended at the University of Houston, Warren McVea is still considered by many to be the greatest Cougar running back ever.

In 1966, he was an All American honorable mention and in 1967 he was second team All American. He ended his career with 3,009 all purpose yards including catching a 99 yard pass. He was a fourth round AFL draft pick. On top of his on the field accomplishments, he also holds the distinction of being the first African-American football player at UH.

Unfortunately no major card manufacturer printed a Warren McVea card, but four McVea cards are available. Today's card is the 1969 Bengals Tresler Comet #13. Tresler Comet was a regional oil company primarily in the Cincinnati area. This set was distributed through Tresler Comet gas stations. The distribution of this set was fairly low, but the McVea card is a short print even for the set.

The photo is a sepia posed shot. It looks like the number is airbrushed in orange. Also an orange facsimile autograph is on the card. I have no idea if this is really McVea's autograph as card companies have been known to use bogus autographs for facsimilies.

I would love to have this card or the 1968 Champion Corn Flakes #3A42. McVea was such an important player in UH history that his few collectibles should be highly desirable to the UH collector.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

2002 Bowman Draft #BDP52 & 2002 Bowman Chrome Draft X-Fractors #52 Chris Snyder

Chris Snyder is the primary starting catcher for the Arizona Diamondbacks. At the University of Houston in 2002, he set the school record for RBI at 71 and led the Coogs in batting average at .343. He was named to the All Conference USA first team, 3rd team All American, and was a finalist for Johnny Bench Catcher of the Year Award.

Today I want to ask a question: Why do collectors like X-Fractor/SuperFractor cards? I just don't get it. I think they look horrible, but for some reason, they are very sought after. Maybe it's because they have very short print runs, but there are other style cards with short print runs that aren't as popular.

I remember when the first Refractor cards came out. People were fascinated by them. I thought they looked OK. I preferred a high quality photo stock type picture. X-fractor style cards to me just detract from the player.

For those not into collecting, X-Fractors are highly reflective hologram cards with checkerboard or other patterns on them. An example is below. The X-Fractor is shown first. Compare this with the base card afterwards. The same picture is on both cards, but I prefer the simplicity of the photo on the base card versus the complexity of the X-Fractor.

Which do you prefer?

Saturday, June 7, 2008

1997 Headliners Basketball #21 Hakeem Olajuwon

We previously looked at the Starting Line Up action figure for Hakeem Olajuwon. Today let's look at another action figure, Headliners.

Headliners were three inch tall figures with a disproportionately large head. While Starting Line Up figures generally had more active poses, the faces didn't generally look a lot like the player. Headliners on the other hand much more closely resembled the player.

This is the 1997 Headliners Olajuwon. The 1996 Headliners featured dark uniforms while 1997 had white uniforms. Both years he was also included in a four pack of centers.

Monday, June 2, 2008

1990 Pro Set #19A Andre Ware

How have I had a blog related to University of Houston athletics and its history without posting about Andre Ware? The day Ware won the Heisman was one of most enjoyable days of my time at UH. Going to the Rice game, hearing the announcement, buying Andre champagne (cheap & the name seemed appropriate for celebration), and partying all night in the dorms was a great time.

Today's card is the 1990 Pro Set #19. There are two variations, one without a stripe (pictured below) and one with a red stripe stating Drafted 1st Round, Detroit.

The front of the card features Ware in action in his UH uniform. Did I mention that I prefer the old skinny logo on the helmet versus the current logo?

The back features a picture of the Heisman Trophy. While many cards feature career college statistics, this card features game by game statistics for the 1989 season. Also on the back is a list of other recent Heisman winners.

I think this is a beautiful card with a the bonus of Ware in his UH uniform and season statistics. This is also one of his many rookie cards. Unfortunately for those concerned about card value, Pro Set had one of the highest production runs in card history so even though there are 2 variations, both are cheaper than any other Ware rookie card and even most of his non-rookie cards. But since I'm more concerned about card design and featuring UH, so this is a great card for those criteria.