Tag Archives: football cards

“Tank” Gets in Trouble While Tanked

Hardly a “bum.”

L.A. Rams fullback Paul “Tank” Younger played before his home team fans in the Jan. 10, 1953, Pro Bowl game. Few of those fans, though, knew that Younger was in the game on something of a “work release” program. Younger earned $600 playing in the game, which his National Conference team won, 27-7.

A Los Angeles judge had earlier sentenced Young to 14 days in jail for assault, plus a year on probation, but stayed the sentence so Younger could participate in the charity game.

Younger had been convicted of giving his mother-in-law, Neatheola Olermo, a “shove” after she had called him a “bum football player,” and threw a Moscow Mule — complete with copper mug — at him in an alleged drunken fracas.

Later that year, Younger’s 19-year-old wife Wylene sued him for divorce for the second time in their year-old marriage, alleging that he had struck her, “on numerous occasions.”

Everything wasn’t all bad for Younger, however, as he was the first African-American to become an NFL front-office administrator, working for the Rams until retiring in 1995. He lived in Los Angeles, California until his death on September 15, 2001, at the age of 73.

Vintage Cardboard Gems

I recently received these awesome vintage cards in the mail from Mark over at RetroSimba, (Check it out, it’s one of the most important baseball publications out there) and I was curious about the history of these cardboard gems. Here’s a wonderful vignette Mark wrote about those origins:

My boyhood world in the 1960s was Bayonne, N.J., a working-class city of ethnic neighborhoods across the bay from New York City. Depending on what part of town the Catholic church was in, you could hear Masses conducted in Polish, Italian, German, Spanish, English, and, of course, Latin.

Chuck Wepner, the heavyweight prizefighter, operated a liquor store on Broadway. They called him “The Bayonne Bleeder,” because of the pounding he took in the ring. Sylvester Stallone acknowledged Wepner was the model for the “Rocky” movie character. Like the city he came from, “The Bayonne Bleeder” was tough and streetwise. He went 15 rounds with Muhammad Ali. When he worked the champ into a corner, Wepner stepped on his foot so he couldn’t shuffle, then knocked him on his ass.

Around the block from where I lived on 31st Street was Sam Pope’s candy store. Sam and his wife ran the place. She always was nice. Sam always was all business. He wore a wide, white apron and would pass for the twin of actor Vincent Gardenia.

The store was stuffed with stuff, but my attention was on the same items: Comic books, Spaldeens, popsicles, Chuckles candy, gum, and baseball cards.

A pack of baseball cards cost a nickel. I’d dig out a pack near the bottom of the shelf, the theory being that’s where Sam Pope was stashing the ones containing my favorite players. Nothing quite matched the exhilaration of spilling out onto the sidewalk, tearing open the pack, and examining each card, hoping that behind every Washington Senators player or checklist was a Hank Aaron or Roger Maris.

The start of the school year meant the end of the baseball card supply at Sam Pope’s. It felt like another lifetime or two would have to pass before the new sets arrived in spring.

Bring back these uni’s, please.

Then, on a visit to the store one autumn day, a batch of cards appeared on the shelf. What’s this? Football cards? Sweet Jesus. What genius thought of this?

On TV, football players were faceless people in helmets with big numbers on their backs. The football cards brought them to life. So, that’s what Merlin Olsen looks like.

The names and faces captivated the imagination. Is there a more perfect name for an offensive lineman than Tom Mack? On his football card, he looked as solid as the truck, too. A quarterback with the name of both a gladiator and an archangel? There he is–Roman Gabriel, looking the part.

I saved my baseball and football cards, adding more over the years. They accompanied me on every journey from childhood to adulthood.

Now, I like to give them to others to enjoy. Some go to a school in Indiantown. Others delight sons of friends or kids in my Florida neighborhood. And a few have found their way to a Rams blogger, a young talent with an old soul.

Horns Move On to the Bowliest of All Bowls

Not a good day for Jim Everett and company.

I needed to quell my pre-game anxiety on Sunday by self-induced psychosis, so I smoked a doobie and went on a long bike ride while listening to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. Yes, I know it’s glorified stoner music with the lyrical content on par intellectually with the conversations I had last Saturday at 3 AM after drinking about 28 beers, but goddamn if it wasn’t working on this melancholic day. I actually saw a dog in a park running in slow motion over a large swath of grass and it made me feel quite peaceful. This 1973 album was subversive capitalism at its finest, (are those Jewish space lasers on the cover?) quite the opposite of the NFL, who punches you in the face with over-the-top commercialism while singing God Bless ‘Merica and skull-fucking logic, debate, and artistic sensitivity. I know what you’re thinking…have a beer and don’t overthink it, dummy.

These two teams had met in the playoffs only once before the current contest–the 1989 NFC Championship in which a Joe Montana-led 49ers group destroyed the Rams 30-3. I watched the game with a friend at my house, (on my mom’s forever 80’s couch that had vomited pastel flowers) and we were pre-teens so we drank sodas, ate popcorn, and talked about girls, heavy metal videos, and the new Batman movie. I quickly lost interest in the game as the boot-stomping commenced, and Montana further cemented his “Joe Cool” legacy, but the malady still lingered. I had experienced the highest of highs the week before when “Flipper” Anderson ran into the tunnel after a game-winning TD catch against the Giants in the frigid Meadowlands, and now I was going to receive piles of somewhat good-natured tauntings when I returned to school on Monday. That’s cool though, it’s all part of what it means to be a fan, and kids back then didn’t sweat the small stuff before youths became ketamine-snorting trauma-vultures and perceived slights had been raised as an art form.

This 1970 Billy Truax card was used as a sort of “good luck totem,” and it worked like a charm.

Sunday’s contest was a knock ’em down, gritty game, and I was feeling more uncomfortable as it unfolded because it seemed as if we were playing into their hands by mimicking their game. It took a brilliant 4th quarter by Matty Stafford and Cooper “YAC” Kupp to come out victorious by the smallest of margins, 20-17. I’m not going to bore you with statistics here, because that’s not what I do, but in the end, we served up revenge as it was meant to be served–cold. I can consequently let that game from 1989 be lifted from the recesses of my mind, but not before my 14-year old self dusted off a few cobwebs, climbed out from under a heavy load of memories, self-esteem issues, worthless knowledge, and mental psychosis to gift that team from San Francisco the middle finger. And I can assure you, that boy had been lying in wait for a very long time to do just that.