Tag Archives: upper deck legends 1997

Donovan, Art ‘The Bulldog’ (1924-2013)

Upper Deck Legends 1997, #AL-30

CARD: Upper Deck Legends 1997
ACQUIRED: Ebay, 2020

CAREER SNAPSHOT:

  • Played one year at Notre Dame before enlisting for World War II, joining the US Marines and saw intense and fierce combat on the Pacific front.
  • Returned and finished out his college time at Boston College.
  • Selected in the 1947 NFL Draft by the New York Giants, but didn’t play pro football until 1950 with the original Baltimore Colts.
  • After the Colts went out of business in 1950, experienced the blues of the sport with both the Yanks (1951) and the Texans (1952), also closing up shop after one season each.
  • It’d be in 1953 that Art joined the second iteration of the Baltimore Colts.
  • He’d go on to become one of the greatest defensive linemen of that era playing in 138 games, through 1961.
  • With a personality larger than life, Donovan made frequent appearances on late night television with Johnny Carson and David Letterman spinning tales of old.
  • He also did radio and owned a country club.

ACCOLADES:

  • Pro Football Hall of Fame (1968)
  • Pro Bowl (1953-57)
  • First Team All-Pro (1954-57)
  • Second Team All-Pro (1958, 1960)
  • Baltimore Ravens Ring of Honor
  • Indianapolis Colts #70 Retired
  • NFL 1950s All-Decade Team

NOTES:

I remember vividly seeing Art on David Letterman during the 80s when I was a kid. I wasn’t interested in football and I had no idea why or how I was up that late, but I recall that he was very, very funny and I enjoyed his self deprecating humor and stories.

EPITAPH:

Art Donovan passed away in 2013 at the age of 89 due to respiratory disease.

Hirsch, Elroy ‘Crazylegs’ (1923-2004)

Upper Deck Legends 1997, #AL-39

CARDS: Upper Deck Legends 1997, Topps Archives 2001
ACQUIRED: EBay, 2020, 2022

CAREER SNAPSHOT:

  • An all-around all star athlete at football, track and baseball for Wisconsin (1941-42), and Michigan (1943-44)
  • Served in the military from 1945-46.
  • Selected by the NFL Cleveland Rams in the 1945 NFL Draft, but opted not to play for them.
  • Signed with the Chicago Rockets of the AAFL, who were coached by his military service football coach.
  • Played both ways intially, also moonlighting as CB, recording 6 interceptions for 97 yards his rookie season.
  • After 4 ultimately frustrating seasons in the AAFL, finally joined the NFL in 1950, signing with the now Los Angeles Rams, who held his rights and shifted him to End.
  • In 1951 set multiple NFL receiving records at the time, in only a 12 game slate.
  • Incredible season had him lead NFL in 5 receiving categories, catching 66 passes for 1495 yards, (22.7 yards per reception), 17 TDs, a 91 yard long and 124.6 yards per game.
  • Became one of the first multimedia darlings, as he starred in the movie ‘Crazylegs’ in 1953 based on his life.
  • Appeared in two other movies of note, ‘Unchained’ (1955), and ‘Zero Hour’ (1957).
  • Retired in 1957, but not after basically owning all the Rams career receiving marks (at the time).
  • Returned to Rams in 1960 where he served as the franchise’s GM through the 69 season.
  • Then headed back to Wisconsin where he served as Athletic Director through 1987.
  • Passed away of natural causes in 2004.

ACCOLADES:

  • Pro Bowl 1951-53
  • All Pro 1951, 1953
  • Pro Football Hall of Fame 1968
  • Wisconsin Hall of Fame 1964
  • Michigan Athletic Hall of Honor 1984
  • NFL 1950s All-Decade Team
  • College Football Hall of Fame 1974
2001 Topps Archives, #29

NOTES:

When the pandemic struck, card prices began going through the roof. This was very true when it came to things like boxes of current product, so I turned my focus towards older cards. Since I was interested mainly in the hits, aka the autographs- I started focusing in on HOFers that I could possibly snipe out of the certified autograph market via EBay. The strategy worked better than I expected, and I was able to fill out quite a few needs at this level at an affordable price.

The first player I went after was Elroy Hirsch. I waited a few weeks and studied the prices and was able to nab this one at under the going rate. I was very happy to add his certified to the collection on his Legends entry. Later I picked up this Topps Archive autograph at a fraction of the cost.

I remember watching the archival footage of him slicing through opposing defenses with ease with his strange gait, and the NFL talking about what a legacy he had across a variety of media. I had always wanted to get Crazylegs certified autograph, but thought that he would be completely out of reach.

Elroy also was ahead of his time in his receiving style, as during that period it was still unheard of for players to catch the ball over their shoulder or in stride running down the field.

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Taylor, Charlie (1941-2022)

Upper Deck Legends 1997, #AL-14

CARD: Upper Deck Legends 1997
ACQUIRED: EBay, 2020

CAREER SNAPSHOT:

  • Selected by the Redskins (NFL) and the Oilers (AFL) in the league’s respective drafts, but opted to play for Washington.
  • Burst onto the scene in 1964 rushing for 755 yards and receiving 814.
  • At the time his 54 receptions by a rookie was an NFL record.
  • In 1966, caught 72 passes for 1119 yards, 12 TDs and an 86 yard long.
  • Redskins officially converted Taylor to LE (left end) in 1967.
  • Caught 70 passes for 990 yards and 9 TDs, including another 86 yard long that year.
  • In 1969, was officially classified a WR and responded with another 71 catch season (883 yards) and a career high 88 yard long reception.
  • Remained remarkably productive during dead ball era during mid-70s, producing 801 yards in 73, 738 in 74, and 744 in 75.
  • Lost entire 76 season to knee injury.
  • Returned for one final season in 77.
  • Finished career with 10,598 yards from scrimmage, and 90 total TDs.
  • At time of retirement, his 649 receptions were an NFL record.
  • Spent next 3 decades with franchise, working first in the front office and later as a WR coach for Washington.
  • Passed away in early 2022, at the age of 80.

ACCOLADES:

  • Rookie of the Year 1964
  • All-Pro 1967
  • Second Team All-Pro 1964, 66, 68-69, 74
  • Pro Bowl 1964-67, 1972-75
  • All-Decade Team 1960s
  • Washington Commanders Ring of Fame
  • 80 Greatest Redskins
  • NFL Receiving leader 1966-67
  • Pro Football Hall of Fame 1984

NOTES:

Charlie hadn’t signed very much since 2012, so I decided to go the certified route when the pandemic hit. It was a fun time being able to hit the EBay market and pick up a few of the Upper Deck Legends set before it blew up.

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