Sunday, August 31, 2008

2008 Donruss Threads Rookie Collection Materials #32 and 2008 Press Pass Legends Saturday Swatches Premium #SSWDA Donnie Avery

Today's post is a piece of card collecting advice to my fellow University of Houston fans who are new to collecting or returning to collecting. It is about jersey cards.

When I first returned to collecting, I was very surprised and excited by autograph and jersey cards. I even posted previously about how cool jersey cards are. But now I'm here to let you new collectors know, not all jersey cards are created equally.

First let's look at the 2008 Press Pass Legends Saturday Swatches Premium #SSWDA featuring Donnie Avery.

This is a very sharp looking card. First of all, I love that Avery is pictured in his UH uniform. Second, that is a great looking piece of jersey. Most jersey cards are single color swatches. Multi color pieces usually are considered more collectible and demand a higher price. This is so true that some fraudulent dealers have replaced single color fabric pieces with attractive pieces from store bought jerseys to command higher prices. So keep your eyes open for that. The nicer pieces of jersey are frequently in higher end products or have a serial numbered very limited print run in a specific subset.

But the point of this card for this post is the words "Game Used Jersey." This swatch comes from a jersey that Avery wore in a game. Another warning "Game Used" may mean a pre-season game or All-Star game like the Senior Bowl, but you can be fairly sure that the jersey was worn by the player while playing a game.

Now let's look at the 2008 Donruss Threads Rookie Collection Materials #32 featuring Donnie Avery in his St. Louis Rams jersey.

This jersey was not worn by Donnie Avery in any game. How do you know? First of all, this card came out before even the first pre-season NFL game, so it's impossible that Donnie wore this Rams jersey in a game. But what if a player has been in the NFL previously? The key words to look for are "Event Worn." Sorry about the poor scan of the back of the card since it doesn't show the entire card. I don't own this one. But you'll notice it say that this jersey was worn on 5/17 at some NFL Players event. You'll also note the words "the authentic Event-Worn Jersey."

What does "Event Worn" mean? It means the jersey was worn at some event like a press conference, autograph session, meet & greet, or other "event."

What does that mean to you the collector? Know what you're buying. If you want to dream about your favorite player possibly wearing the jersey while scoring a touchdown or sacking the quarterback, make sure the jersey is game used. If it's enough to you that the jersey was worn by your guy, either event worn or game used will be sufficient for you. You may not even care if the jersey was ever worn. A card may just have a great design with a jersey swatch and autograph that looks great to you.

I'm not going to tell you what to collect because we all have our preferences. I just want you to be informed especially since some of these cards can be very scarce and expensive. Buy what you like, but know what you buy, and you'll be a happy collector.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

1992 World Class Athletes #14 Leroy Burrell

Carl Lewis is the bell cow for the University of Houston track program, but he's not the only legendary Cougar track athlete. Another great is current Houston Track & Field Head Coach Leroy Burrell.

Before getting into coaching, Burrell was a great all around track athlete. He competed for the Cougars in the 100 meters, 200 meters, and long jump. He was an All American and won the Jumbo Elliott Award as the nation's top collegiate track and field athlete.

After completing his college eligibility, Burrell had a very successful, although injury plagued, career. He set the 100 meter world record several times with his final record of 9.85 seconds in 1994.

Burrell competed in the 1992 Olympics winning a gold medal in the 4x100 and a fifth place finish in the 100 meter. He also qualified for the 1996 Olympics, but he had to withdraw due to a Achilles injury.

For more information on Leroy Burrell and his career, click here to view his biography at the UH athletics website.

Today's collectible is the 1992 World Class Athletes #14. We've already seen other cards from this set for Carl Lewis here.

The front features a photo of Burrell with his arms raised celebrating a victory. The back provides a list of career achievements although it features only items prior to the 1992 Olympics. Of special note is the nod to the greatness of the University of Houston track program.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

1996 Fleer USA #15 Hakeem Olajuwon

We covered how Hakeem Olajuwon became eligible for the USA Olympic team in an earlier post. So let's look at the results for 1996 Team USA basketball.

Like the original 1992 Dream Team, the 1996 team went 8-0 with blowouts in every game. The 1992 team won by an average of 43.8 points per game while the 1996 team won by 31.7 points.

The center depth for that team was amazing with David Robinson, Shaquille O'Neal, and Hakeem Olajuwon. Hakeem played in only seven of the games, starting two, and averaging 12 minutes per game. In those 12 minutes, he averaged 5 points, 3.1 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.8 steals, & 0.4 blocks.

Today's card is the 1996 Fleer USA #15. This is a By the Numbers card with Olajuwon's Team USA jersey number of 15 providing a background to Hakeem tossing up a hook shot.

Good luck finding this card. According to Beckett, the print run was only 35. There are five other Olajuwon cards in the 1996 Fleer USA set if you want an easier card to find from this set.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

1977-79 Sportscaster #102-12 Flo Hyman

Most Cougar fans can name the first African American athletes to get a scholarship to the University of Houston, but can you name the first woman? It's Flo Hyman. I knew Flo was a great volleyball player, but I didn't know how influential and important she was.

In addition to being the first woman to receive an athletic scholarship to UH, she was a three time All American. In 1977, she was named the top female collegiate volleyball player. She was also the first female Coog to be inducted into UH's Hall of Honor. She left UH after her junior year to pursue the Olympic dream.

Unfortunately for her, the US boycotted the 1980 Olympics in Moscow and Flo would have to wait four more years to play in the LA Olympics. In LA, Flo led the US voleyball team to a silver medal.

Hyman also played professional volleyball in Japan. In 1986 during a professional match, she collapsed. She passed away later that night. It was originally thought that she was killed by a heart attack, but it was later announced that it was due to complications from Marfan syndrome.

She was inducted into the Volleyball Hall of Fame in 1988 and named by USA Volleyball as the MVP for the years 1978-2002. In 1987, the Women’s Sports Foundation established an annual Flo Hyman Award to the female athlete who best exemplified over the course of her career Hyman’s “dignity, spirit, and commitment to excellence.”

Most consider her the greatest American volleyball player of her generation. Some even consider her greatest American volleyball player of all time. All I know is she was a great Cougar and someone we should be very proud to say that she went to UH.

Today's collectible is the 1977-79 Sportscast #102-12. These cards were not your typical standard sized trading card. They measured 4.75 x 6.5 inches and had stats on the back. The stats were later updated so there are multiple variations of the card.

The front contains a border at the top and an indication of the sport. Below the border, there is a picture of Flo in the USA volleyball uniform. Since the card was produced long before the 1984 Olympics, this was probably a picture from one of the many international tournaments that she played in trying to lead USA women's volleyball to respectability.

Monday, August 11, 2008

1991-93 5 Majeur #38 Clyde Drexler

Clyde Drexler was a late addition to the 1992 USA Basketball "Dream Team." He was added along with Christian Laettner after the original ten members were named. Despite not being named with the original team, he excelled in the Olympic games.

He played in all eight of the games and started three. Drexler averaged 10.5 points per game (fifth best on the team), 3.0 rebounds (sixth best), 3.6 assists (fourth), and 2.4 steals (fourth). As he did his entire career, Clyde showed his all around basketball talents.

Of course the team went 8-0 and won by an average of 43.8 points.

Today's collectible is the 1991-93 5 Majeur #38. These cards were inserted in the French magazine 5 Majeur from 1991 to 1993 with no number on the back. The card features Drexler in his Team USA uniform in a posed shot. The back features stats, player information, and player profile in French.

The layout and look is fairly bland, but the rarity of this exotic French collectible makes it an Olympic card worthy of interest.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Sports Illustrated - Carl Lewis

The Olympics have begun so for the next couple of weeks, let's feature University of Houston Olympians.

When you talk about the Olympics, to me one athlete stands out above the rest, Carl Lewis. 10 Olympic medals including 9 gold in 4 Olympic Games from 1984 to 1996.

Sports Illustrated included Carl Lewis on six covers with five rlated to the Olympics of the Olympic trials. Today let's look at each SI issue.

August 23rd, 1983

The only non-Olympic cover, this issue features Lewis at the World Championships in Helsinki where he won the long jump and 100 meter.

June 25th, 1984

Lewis wins at the Olympic trials.

August 20th, 1984

Lewis is pictured with the USA relay team. He wins four gold medals, 100 meter, 200 meter, 4x100 meter relay, and long jump.

No SI cover for the 1988 games despite gold medals in the 100 meter and long jump and silver medal in the 200 meter (behind another Cougar Joe DeLoach). Featured instead was Ben Johnson who had won the 100 meter race, but he was disqualified for steroid use. Other Olympians featured in 1988 were Florence Griffith Joyner and Jackie Joyner Kersee.

August 17th, 1992

Two more Olympic gold medals in Barcelona in the 4x100 meter relay and long jump. Lewis is again pictured with the relay team.

December 28th, 1992

The images of 1992 issue features Lewis enjoying the 4x100 victory.

August 5th, 1996

The cover proclaims Lewis as "The Best Ever" with an amazing photograph of him landing a long jump. He wins the long jump for his ninth gold medal.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

1975 Carvel Discs #4 Don Chaney

I'm currently reading the book Cougars of Any Color about the integration of University of Houston athletics. I'll be posting a review on this blog soon, but today let's look at one of the players discussed in the book, Don Chaney.

Don Chaney, along with Elvin Hayes and Warren McVea, was in the first group of African American athletes recruited to play at UH. While overshadowed by Hayes, Chaney is one of the greatest basketball players in Cougar history. He scored over 1,000 points and was an All-American Honorable Mention in 1967 and Second Team All-American in 1968. He played every minute of the Game of the Century against UCLA and helped the Coogs go to their first two Final Fours in 1967 & 1968.

His outstanding college career led him to being selected 12th overall in the NBA draft by the Boston Celtics. He played 11 seasons in the NBA, winning two championships, and earning All Defensive Second Team honors five times. After his playing career was over, he went on to a long career as an NBA coach, winning Coach of the Year honors in 1992.

Today's collectible is the 1975 Carvel Disc #4. This is an oddball collectible. I don't have concrete information on this item, but it appears that it was a giveaway at Carvel Ice Cream.

The front of the disc has a black and white picture of Chaney with a facsimile autograph. Around the border, there is player information like date of birth, school, and some statistics.

There are multiple variations of this card. I can confirm the existence of green, orange, pink, and yellow bordered discs. I believe there is also a blue variation and possibly even white. I have seen other players in this set with blue and white, but I have not been able confirm that Chaney has these variations.