Tuesday, February 24, 2009

1976-77 and 1977-78 Fleer NBA Basketball Stickers

After the 1974 Fleer Basketball Cloth Patch set, Fleer took a year off in 1975 before coming back with a Hi-Gloss Basketball Sticker set for the 1976-1977 season.

Each of the 22 teams in the set had one of two different designs. One design features the team logo surrounded by a colored border, and a smaller sticker on the top featuring another team (or in some cases the NBA logo):

The 8 teams with this design can be found with all 3 different colors - blue, red, and yellow. There are no variations with the smaller team sticker - it is the same for all 3 color variations.

The other design that was used for the remaining 14 teams featured the team logo against a white background, with a colored strip across the top announcing that these were "New All Pro Hi-Gloss Stickers":

There are 4 possible colored strips (blue, red, yellow, and green). In talking with some other collectors who have been working on this set, it does not appear that all the teams with this type of sticker all have the 4 different color variations, as some teams only appear to have 3, 2, or perhaps only 1 color.

The backs of the stickers are blank, which unfortunately makes it impossible to distinguish them from the following year's set as the 1977-1978 set is also blank backed, and has the exact same design, with a slightly different wrapper that now indicates the stickers have a "wet look":

Without having the luxury of opening a number of unopened boxes from each year, I'm afraid I can't confirm whether all the different color variations appear in both sets or not, so for purposes of this review, I am including both sets together as there are no differences that I am aware of except possibly one:

There are 2 possible explanations for the lettering differences between these Pistons stickers:

1) Fleer printed 2 different Pistons stickers in each set

2) One sticker is from 1976-77 and the other sticker is from 1977-78.

Until I come across an uncut sheet or find some unopened boxes, I am going to go on the assumption that the sticker with the white lettering is from 1976-77 and the sticker with the red lettering is from 1977-78, given the fact that the 1978-79 version of the sticker has red lettering as well.

Here is the set of all 22 teams (without color variations):

And finally, here is the 1976-77 box:

and the 1977-78 box (showing that the price of a pack increased 50%!):

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

1974 Fleer NBA Basketball Cloth Patch Stickers

A year after Topps inserted NBA & ABA logo stickers in their packs of Basketball cards, Fleer got into the Basketball market with a set of NBA cloth patches:

Unlike the Topps sticker set from 1973-74, this set was exclusively an NBA set, so no ABA teams are included.

Each team had 2 stickers - a plain logo patch and another patch with the team's logo on a basketball with the words "Property Of". In addition, there were 2 NBA logo patches.

Here is a look at the complete set:

And thanks to Craig, here are the Jazz & Bullets "Property Of" stickers that I don't yet have to round out the set:

The spots that appear on the above stickers are due to the glue on the back of the patches that have stained the patches and the sticker backing. I haven't seen many examples of these patches without some type of glue stain.

The packs also included a card set entitled "The Shots":

As was the case with Fleer's Baseball and Football cloth patch releases, the cards that were included in the packs (to give the packs a solid piece of cardboard inside to keep the pack from being too flimsy given the cloth patches are not very rigid) are never mentioned on the wrappers:

Here is a picture of the contents of a pack to show the size of "The Shots" card in relation to the stickers:

As this picture shows, much of this unopened material has been damaged by being in contact with the gum for over 30 years.

To finish our review, here is the wax box

and a full box of packs just waiting to be busted (have fun peeling the gum off the backs of the patches!)

1974 was the only year that Fleer issued cloth patch Basketball stickers. Fleer would return in a few years with Hi-Gloss Basketball stickers which we'll review shortly.

Friday, February 13, 2009

1973-74 Topps Basketball NBA & ABA Team Stickers

Topps issued a second set of Basketball team logo stickers in the 1970's as an insert in the 1973-74 set:

The stickers feature a team logo sticker as well as a smaller sticker with a team pennant.

Even though there were 27 NBA & ABA teams at the time, there are 33 different stickers in the set as 6 team logos can be found with pennant variations.

Here is the complete set including the 6 variations:

(the blank space is for the Utah Stars shown at the top of the post which I'm still trying to track down for my collection)

I really like this set as it is a great way to see the logos of many of the ABA teams that did not make it past the NBA / ABA merger in 1976. This is one of the few places you can see logos for teams like the Carolina Cougars, the Kentucky Colonels, the Memphis Tams, the San Diego Conquistadors (or "Q's"), the Utah Stars, and the Virginia Squires that helped make the ABA an exciting upstart league that eventually was able to rival the NBA and ultimately forced a merger.

Just like the NFL's aversion to expansion in the late 1950's led to the formation of the AFL, the NBA was not seeking to expand in the late 1960's which led to the birth of the ABA.

In a number of ways the histories of the ABA and the AFL are very similar. Both were formed by groups frustrated at not being able to get a franchise, both had a similar number of seasons before being merged into the older leagues (AFL 10 years, ABA 9 years) and both brought a more wide open style of play. Both also had a mega star which helped give the leagues their identities and credibility:



One of the few differences is that while all AFL teams were included in the merger with the NFL, only 4 ABA teams were able to join the NBA with the other teams having to fold. Its a shame that all of the ABA teams could not have joined the NBA, but given how many of these teams were struggling financially, the NBA was not eager to bring in franchises that were in trouble.

For a great look back at the exciting days of the ABA, I highly recommend Remember The ABA.com.

Getting back to the Topps set, the insert stickers were mentioned on the wrapper:

And finally, here is a look at a few cards from the set:

Unfortunately 1973-74 was the last time that Topps would issue Basketball team logo stickers.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

1971-72 Topps Basketball NBA & ABA Team Stickers

Now that Football season is over I thought I'd take a break from reviewing Football sets and spend some time taking a look at some Basketball sets which feature team logos.

To start things off, I want to take a look at the 1971-72 Topps Basketball set, which featured insert stickers that included team logos:

The sticker above features NBA teams, and is sticker # 46 in the set. While there is only 1 sticker for NBA logos, there are 3 different stickers featuring ABA teams, with the difference being how the team stickers are aligned on the card. Sticker #22A (The A designates ABA) is the most common version:

The other 2 ABA stickers (23A & 24A) are short prints, and much harder to find:

The sticker set also featured player stickers with 3 stickers on each card:

The NBA stickers each had a #, while the ABA stickers had a # and the letter "A":

A full sticker set consists of 26 cards as pictured below:

15 of the cards had NBA players for a total of 45 NBA stickers, which is why #46 is the set of logo stickers. 7 of the cards had ABA players for a total of 21 ABA stickers, which is why the logo stickers are numbered #22 - #24.

As for the cards, the 1971-72 Topps Basketball cards were the first Topps set to be issued in standard card size

after the "tall boy" cards of 1969-70

and 1970-71:

Topps just couldn't resist tinkering with the size of their Basketball cards as they returned with very large cards for the 1976-77 set:

and then got really small for the 1980-81 set:

Which brings us full circle back to the 1971-72 Topps Basketball stickers. Topps evidently felt 3 on 1 tri-cards worked well for basketball, given they recycled this design from the 1971-72 sticker set for the 1980-81 set.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Holding the Runner On First - Literally!

Following up my previous post on finding new Eddie Murray pictures I had not previously seen, I got a laugh out of seeing this picture of Eddie Murray literally holding Roy Smalley on first:

That is one way to make sure the runner doesn't advance!