By Brian Bennett
July 20, 2016
I have been an avid collector of anything with an autograph on it nearly all my life. When I started sending cards through the mail, I started by sending out cards that I had collected throughout the years, mostly ranging from the early 90’s through the present. About a couple of years ago I challenged myself to step out of my norm and to start sending out vintage cards. The benefits were two fold, I would be expanding my collection and I would be pushing myself to do as much research as I could to the warriors of yesteryear who hung up the cleats long before I was born. I have learned that these gentlemen are some of the most humble and generous signers in the hobby, as well as some of the best players to ever step foot on the gridiron. What I hope to do is to present you with a vintage card periodically with a brief history behind the card and/or the player.
Collecting inked vintage cards has brought me a lot of joy. Each card is unique on its’ own way. With every crease and every stain or tear, a story is told. To me, the more creases the better (as long as its’ not destroyed completely). I often wonder about the history of my vintage cards. Where did they come from? What things have these cards been through?
This week, I would like to share with you one of my favorite vintage cards that I own. The 1955 Topps All-American football set is one of the most iconic sets all time. The set consists of 100 different cards of some of the biggest names in the game of the era, both past and present, and features them in their college uniforms. The thick borders with bold colors, coupled with the black and white backgrounds are absolutely beautiful. There are no frills here, only strong design that captures your eye and is aesthetically pleasing. I purchased the Johnny Lujack #52 card online and immediately started my research.
Lujack is mostly known for his outstanding play at Quarterback during his career at Notre Dame, although his college football career was put on hold while he served in the US Navy during WWII. Mr. Lujack led the Fighting Irish to three National Championship titles while also earning Heisman and Associated Press Athlete of the Year awards. He was selected fourth overall in the 1948 NFL draft by the Bears. Johnny set many records with the Bears. In 1949 he passed for a record 468 yards in a single game, and in 1950 he set an NFL record by scoring 11 rushing touchdowns as a quarterback. He earned two pro bowl nods during his brief four year professional career before returning back to Notre Dame to serve as an assistant coach.
My TTM request was quickly returned and Mr. Lujack signed my card nicely in blue sharpie with a beautiful, bold full signature. To me, it’s incredible to own a card that was printed 61 years ago, and has now been signed in the present day. Kind of makes it come full circle to me, linking the past with the present. I challenge all my fellow collectors that do not already, to step out of your comfort zones and research some of these guys that you may have never gotten the chance to see play. I have learned so much and I have found this to be another very rewarding aspect of this fine hobby. I look forward to sharing many other stories with you.