Tuesday, December 30, 2008

1959 Topps Football Team Pennant Cards

My previous post on the Colts 1958 World Championship showcased a card from a great subset from the 1959 Topps Football set - the team pennant cards:

I really like this subset as it does a nice job of highlighting the team's logo in the form of a pennant while giving information on the front about how well the team has done in terms of winning previous Conference and World Championships. I wish we'd see subsets like this in current football sets.

One thing that this subset shows is just how much the NFL has grown in the past 50 years. There are only 12 pennant cards in the set as there were only that many teams in the league at the time.

In a time when 12 teams now make the postseason, its interesting to take a look back at the league and how the teams were aligned right before the NFL made its rapid rise during the 1960's.

In 1959, the NFL consisted of 12 teams, with 6 teams in the Eastern Conference and 6 teams in the Western Conference.

The Eastern Conference consisted of

The Chicago Cardinals

The Cleveland Browns

The New York Giants

The Philadelphia Eagles

The Pittsburgh Steelers

and The Washington Redskins

If you remove the 2 teams that moved to the AFC as part of the merger (Browns & Steelers), you have the old NFC East from the 1970s through the 1990s (without the Cowboys who didn't join the league until 1960)

The Western Conference consisted of

The Baltimore Colts

The Chicago Bears

The Detroit Lions

The Green Bay Packers

The Los Angeles Rams

and The San Francisco 49ers

If you take out the Colts who moved to the AFC in 1970, you've got the old NFC Central (save for the Vikings who didn't join until 1961) and part of the old NFC West.

As kids were collecting their 1959 Topps cards and putting together the subset of the 12 team pennant cards, who could have imagined that within a 2 year period that the number of pro football teams would nearly double with the addition of the 8 AFL teams in 1960:

as well as the NFL's expansion with the addition of the Cowboys in 1960:

and the addition of the Vikings (who they stole from the AFL) in 1961:

These teams (or the teams that they became after relocating) seem like they've been around forever, but its interesting to see that almost 1/3 of the current league's 32 teams were formed within a 2 year period shortly after The Greatest Game Ever Played.


Scott said...

That's interesting, the Lions actually won some championships back then.

Fred Goodwin said...

I really enjoy reading your blog -- keep up the good work and Happy New Year!

Frank said...

Thanks for the gorgeous scans! I dig the spot illustrations beneath the pennants on the cards.

M Styborski said...

Har-Har! I notice that the Steelers and Niners have no championships listed on their cards. How times change!

Geaux Stillers!

Anonymous said...

Hi there, just bought the Topps Bears Pennant card at a flea market. Thanks for the info regarding the set!