Saturday, September 3, 2016

1961 Football Cardinals' Sophomore Year

After their inaugural year, the football Cardinals would finish the expanded 1961 season with a record of 7-7 which placed them fourth in the Eastern Conference. They were 10th in points scored and 13th in total yards. While their defense was much better at 4th in points given up and 5th in yards given up. The 1961 team consisted of among others Sam Etcheverry (QB) who spent only two years in the NFL both with STL.  John David Crow, Charley Johnson (QB) who would spend 15 years in the NFL with STL, the Oilers, and the Broncos and for his career he would have a 51.2% completion rate and 24, 410 total yards. Bobby Joe Conrad is back for ’61 as was Pro Bowler Ken Grey (G-LB) who would spend all but one of year of his career with the Chicago/St. Louis Cardinals.

Nineteen sixty-one would see two national football (NFL) card issues for the first time. Topps and Fleer would go head to head only in 1961. Fleer issued two series in 1961, 1-132, contains players from NFL teams and the second series, #133-220, contains players from AFL teams.

Fleer’s set included 10 regular Cardinal cards. Fleer utilized a pretty straightforward approach in their design.  A player’s portrait is framed in white with name and position bottom left corner on the left side and the team emblem is located in the opposite corner. I don’t know when they took the player’s photo but many are positioned on the gridiron, probably before a game. Not one Cardinal is in an action pose, not one. Sonny Randle’s card cracks me up.


He is like “what the hell is going on here”. The reverse is also simple yet effective, while the front is vertical, the reverse for some reason is horizontal.  The back is a cream color with a light green box at the top that again repeats player’s name, position, and team. While below is some biographical info and just below that is a small paragraph with some story about the player. In 1961-62 Fleer also issued, via Complete Sports Pro-Football Illustrated magazine, a set of player’s in action or portrait form that were to be hand cut from the magazine-so called “Wallet” Pictures. The Cardinals had 6 players out of 145 included in this issue. The photos used by Fleer in the magazine are those used on the regular Fleer issue-above is Bill Stacey's regular Fleer card and here is his "Wallet" pictures.

Topps countered with 9 cards and one emblem insert.  Topps also divided NFL and AFL players in two series, cards 1-132, contains only NFL players and cards 133-198 only AFL players are showcased. While Fleer’s issue was much more simple than Topps. Topps utilized either action or portrait player shots with colorized backgrounds. The player’s name, position, and team are in a black box along the bottom. While the card’s reverse is light aqua or teal blue and horizontal. Topps crowds everything to a side bar while leaving a very large portion to a rub off “make a photo” gimmick.  A flocked team logo of each team was inserted in to packs of 1961 Topps Football.

Topps would be the only player so to speak in the NFL Football card game for next two years until 1964 when Philadelphia Gum jumped in.

Stats- 1961 Topps have 8/9 and Fleer 1/10

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