Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Cathedral Gallery

Some cards are just pretty, while others can be used as toilet paper.  Most look like a fabricated shot of a guy making a catch or cheesing for the camera with a bad haircut.  Then there are cards that look like they belong in an art gallery and this is one of them.  The 1957 Topps John Unitas Rookie Card is a work of art in its design, color, photography and subject matter.  Johnny Unitas is one of the greatest players in NFL History and his rookie card could be considered the prize of any collection.  Unitas' name has been in the news of late for some of his records being surpassed by Drew Brees and Tom Brady for most consecutive games with a TD pass.  Unitas starred on the Baltimore Colts Teams of the late 50s, 60s and early 70s which had great players like Lenny Moore, Raymond Berry and Alan Ameche.  They won Super Bowl V and two NFL championships pre-merger in '58 & '59.

Unitas and the Baltimore Colts were a bit before my time but I read a book on those Colts teams called "When the Colts Belonged to Baltimore," written by William Gildea.  Dr. Charles Kupfer of Penn State University made it required reading for his American Studies class on Family.  It was one of the few books I actually read in college.  Gildea writes of his Colts as the family gathering place, where he and his father spent Sundays together on the couch and in Memorial Stadium watching their beloved team.  The book is a poetic illustration of Sports and Teams being much more than just games and scores.  Dr. Kupfer told us his personal account of 'the Heidi game,' which took place back in 1968 when Broadway Joe's Jets played John Madden's Oakland Raiders  The occasion had such an impact on him as a child, he named his daughter Heidi.

The 1957 Topps Football Card design of a dual photograph with a player's headshot & an action pic is unique and infrequently replicated.  The 2012 Topps Chrome Football set pays homage to the '57 design by inserting current rookie players in regular, refractor and autograph editions.  The Luck and RG3 autographed ones are like gold.  But even they don't come close to the original.

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