Sunday, February 22, 2009

2008 Topps Mayo Mini Harvard Red Backs #161 Donnie Avery

Today's card featuring Donnie Avery is from the 2008 Topps Mayo set. The Mayo set is based on the first football card set from 1894 where cards were included with tobacco. The set featured Ivy League players.

There are 13 Donnie Avery Mayo variations. Pictured below is the Mini Harvard Redback variation. The mini version is 1 9/16" x 2 7/8", the size of the original Mayo cards. The front features a black and white posed photo of Avery with a football and a black border. The bottom includes design elements from the original Mayo tobacco set including the Cut Plug logo and an explanation of the card's purpose... "For Collecting and Trading."

The back of this variation is just a big red H for Harvard, another call back to the original Ivy League set. It doesn't make much sense to have a Harvard logo with a University of Houston player, but the Harvard logo is used for all players with this variation. The Mini Harvard variation is rare with only 25 made, but does the rarity offset the awkward back?

I have mixed feelings about the Mayo set. I love the concept. I even like some of the design elements. But it just seems to be missing something. I hope they try again with another old set with a more logical and pleasing design.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

1976 Topps #14 Robert Newhouse

I've been writing for this blog for almost two years, and I've never written about my all-time favorite Cougar, Robert Newhouse. I wish I could say it was because of his incredible career at the University of Houston, but it's not. I grew up in Dallas, and if you grew up in Dallas in the 1970s, you were a Cowboys fan.

As a kid, you choose your favorites in odd ways. I think I liked Newhouse because he was called the Human Bowling Ball. Plus he had the biggest legs, supposedly 40+ inches around. That's enough for a kid. I didn't even know he was a Cougar until I went to school at UH and started reading our athletic history.

Robert Newhouse was an amazing college running back. He played for UH from 1969 to 1971. No coincidence, but that was a very successful stretch for the Coogs. In 1969, UH went 9-2 and finished #12 in the AP poll. 1970, the Coogs went 8-3 and finished 19th. 1971 saw UH go 9-3 and finished 17th. He was co-captain of the 1971 team along with Gary Mullins and Frank Ditta.

In those years, Newhouse wrote his name all over the UH record book:
Most rushing yards in a season (1757 in 1971)
Most 100 yard games in a season (10 in 1971)
Most 100 yard games in a career (16)
Most consecutive 100 yard games in a season (7 in 1971)
Most consecutive 100 yard games in a career (8)
Most 200 yard games in a season (3 in 1971, tied with Anthony Alridge and Paul Gipson)
Most 200 yard cames in a career (4, tied with Anthony Alridge and Paul Gipson)
4th and 5th most yards in a game
2nd most rushes in a season (277 in 1971)
Tied for 5th most rushing TDs in a season (12 in 1971)
4th most all purpose yards in a season (1988 in 1971)
3rd most career rushing yards (2961)
4th most career rushes (461)
5th best career rushing average (6.4 yards)
10th career rushing TDs (19)
10th career all purpose yards (3426)

Wow! That's alot of records.

The 1757 yards in 1971 was the second most yards in a season in NCAA history at the time. Unfortunately Ed Marinaro rushed for 1881 yards that same year. In the Heisman Trophy vote that year 4 of the top 5 vote getters and 5 of the top 10 were running backs. Shamefully, Newhouse was not one of them. All of the 4 top vote getters are in the College Football Hall of Fame. Why isn't Newhouse?

He was also won the Dana X Bible Award (best football player in Texas), Houston Chronicle Player of the Year, and was AP 2nd team All-American.

After his remarkable college career, he was selected in the second round of the 1972 NFL draft by the Dallas Cowboys. He played his entire career for Dallas from 1972 to 1983. He rushed for 4,784 career yards, leading the Cowboys in 1975, and had 956 yards. But as a pro, he was primarily known as a blocking fullback.

While Newhouse was on the team, the Cowboys went to four Super Bowls winning two. In the Super Bowl XII 27-10 win over the Denver Broncos, he threw a TD pass to Golden Richards.

Today's collectible is Robert Newhouse's rookie card, the 1976 Topps #14. The card features a staged photo of Newhouse in front of a sky blue background. As with all Topps cards in the 1970s, there is no Cowboys or NFL logo as Topps didn't have those rights. The back features career stats and a note that he was the Cowboys' leading rusher in 1975 and fourth in the NFC. It also has a clue about a Cowboys mystery player.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

1969 Glendale Stamps Bo Burris

Bo Burris played football for the University of Houston from 1964 to 1966. One of his biggest claims to fame is that he was the first Veer quarterback. Hall of Fame Coach Bill Yeoman developed the Veer in 1964. I've read two stories on how the Veer was invented.

The first story has an offensive tackle missing a blocking assignment on a play during practice, but the play was successful due to the lineman's error. Yeoman had the lineman do the same thing and developed blocking schemes based on that.

The second story has Cougar defensive tackle Gus Brezina disrupting plays during practice. So Yeoman developed a scheme to intentionally let Brezina through and run by him.

Whatever the story, Yeoman developed a blocking scheme and option attack that Bo Burris led to perfection.

In 1966, Burris' led Cougar offense led the nation in total offense. The team went 8-2 and ended the season ranked 19th in the UPI poll.

Burris' name is all over the UH record books.

The good:

  • Longest pass play: 99 yards to Warren McVea vs Washington State (9/23/66)

  • 7th longest pass play: 87 yards to Ken Hebert vs Tampa (10/29/66)

  • 9th most TD passes in a season: 22 in 1966

  • 9th most TDs responsible for in a season: 26 in 1966

  • 11th most career passing yards: 3,250

  • 9 most career TD passes: 35

  • 7th most career TDs responsible for: 41

The bad:

  • Most interceptions in a game: Tied for 1st with 7 vs Mississippi (10/22/66)

  • Most interceptions in a season: 1st with 21 in 1966

(Case Keenum is pushing Burris down many of the record lists)

In 1967, Bo was drafted in the second round by the New Orleans Saints. As a pro, he played defensive back. He played three years for the Saints from 1967 to 1969.

For Bo Burris collectors, there aren't many items out there. Today's collectible is the 1969 Glendale Stamp of Burris. Glendale Stamps measured 1-13/16" x 3-15/16" and were designed to be placed in stamp albums. The front features a rather bland headshot of Burris with no text or graphics. The back lists the name, team, and instructions on how to place the stamp in an album.

It's not a very exciting collectible although stamps are a little different than your standard card. But such a great and important Cougar player deserves a place in every UH collection.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

2007-08 Exquisite Collection Trios Patches Gold #OOR Hakeem Olajuwon

Today's card is the 2007-08 Exquisite Collection Trios Patches Gold #OOR.

Hakeem Olajuwon. David Robinson. Shaquille O'Neal. Possibly the three greatest centers from last 20 years. Three of the greatest centers of all time. And here they are on one card.

To that awesome lineup, add game used uniform pieces. Not just uniform pieces, but two and three color patches. For those who aren't regular collectors, multi color swatches and pieces of patches (letters, logos, etc) bring a premium in price compared to single color uniform material. Just think of how boring this card would be in comparison if the three uniform swatches were solid white.

If that wasn't enough, let's make it EXTREMELY rare. Only three of these were made.

What else could you ask for? The only thing missing is their autographs. This card is expensive enough without that.

What an amazing card.

Updated Checklist

True to my word, I am regularly updating the checklist. Unfortunately I'm not doing as well at posting frequently.

As usual checklists are provided in Excel and pdf on the left. New additions are highlighted in orange.

127 cards were added with this update. Most of the cards (108) were of Donnie Avery. Elvin Hayes also had multiple additions.

Even though I just updated the list, I know that there are already several more to be added including several Mayo cards of Anthony Alridge that I'm excited about. Maybe you'll see a post on those soon.

If you know of any missing cards or players, especially players, please let me know. I could especially use help with baseball players, minor or major league. I'm not a huge baseball fan, college or pro, so if you know of any players I'm missing, e-mail me at