Thursday, October 11, 2018

Phone's Gonna Knock You Out

The year was 1991. The airwaves carried LL Cool J’s Mama Said Knock You Out. And on a related note, this Bill Costello (better known as Billy) card was printed.

It might be the only boxing card you ever find on this blog. It's the Holy Grail of boxers with phones.

And even if it's the only one, that’s ok because it’s a fantastic candid snapshot. Billy’s holding the phone with boxing gloves. There’s a turnstile and some random dude in the background. And the “I’m not gonna tell you twice” expression has the right feel for a boxing card.

The last few months knocked me out of blogging, so this is the right card for right now. During my hiatus, Commishbob got in touch and generously sent a blog-warming gift pack of cards. It included the Costello that’s in nicer shape than the one I had. Thank you!

Billy boxed for 20 years. You can read his accomplishments on the card back.

A New York Times article about his 2011 death mentioned he played high school baseball. He aimed to go pro but was sidetracked by way of a convenience store robbery. But he turned himself in thanks to his dad. Then a series of events led to boxing which sidestepped a life of crime.

After retiring, he worked as a home contractor and pro boxing ref. He was only 55 when he died of lung cancer and is memorialized here (rest in peace).

·         Card facts: likely only two other cards of Billy were made
·         Current Availability: fairly common (good selection on comc and eBay)

Saturday, July 21, 2018


As far back as I can remember, I’d answer the phone with Hello.

That word started the conversation. And this post will start an ongoing chat about cards of athletes with phones.

This the first card (that know of) in this oddball category: a 1976 Topps Don Strock rookie football card...

He's holding a run-of-the-mill phone from the 1970s. These were everywhere. And your color choice didn’t include Space Gray. It was Avocado. Harvest Gold. Or maybe Poppy Red like Don’s phone.

I can’t even remember the last time I saw or used that kind of phone. Maybe I’ll need to track down a new, old style phone.

Since the card doesn’t have a full shot of the phone, here’s a 1973 ad that does. 

There’s a Lee Majors looking guy calling the of the 1970’s. So I could talk to a real person, tell them what I want (without hunting it down on a web page), and get it delivered in hours? Sold!

I’ll have the Avocado colored blender. That’s, let’s see… $183 in today’s dollars – must be a good one. They don’t make them like they used to. I’ll add a 1975 push button telephone to that order. What could be nicer? Only that shag carpet.

Parts of the premise were more advanced than the online shopping of today. But we’re all in the future now, so we know GiftAmerica didn’t pan out and most of us will have to wait for delivery within hours.

Let’s wind this down with the back of Don’s card that includes a very groovy 70s orange color.

Don was with the Dolphins since 1973 during their prime: back-to-back Super Bowls in ’72 and ’73. But he didn’t really get started as a Quarterback until 1975. He was a backup QB due to tough competition from Bob Griese and Dan Marino. Later Don would be a key player in The Epic in Miami game, and he was on the other end of the line as the QB coach for the Ravens from 1996 to 98. 

The card design is a winner. I like the simplicity and football team name graphic. 

But the photo makes me wonder… did his coach say Hello? They probably just got to the point. There’s a game to play.

  • Card facts: only one of five cards spanning Don’s career from 1976 to 1988
  • Current Availability: very common (with a good selection throughout comc, eBay, SportLots)

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Mr. Watson Come here I want to see you

Humanity's built on what preceded us. And this blog wouldn't exist without the telephone.

So let's start at the beginning, a functional phone made by Alexander Graham Bell.

The first words spoken on a phone were Bell's on March 10th 1876: "Mr. Watson Come here I want to see you.” It's documented in his own journal at the bottom of the first page here…

We'll conclude our mini history lesson with Upper Deck's overview on the back of Bell's 2008 SP Legendary Cut #110 card...

  • Card facts: Serial numbered to 550. This card series ran from 2001 to 2009 and once again in 2011. 
  • Current Availability: common/limited (several scattered throughout comc, eBay, SportLots).
    A 1/1 with "Memorable Moments" text repeating info from the standard card is on eBay at a ridiculous price.

Tap, tap, tap. Is this thing on?