July 23, 2014
By John Hirn
CSU Athletic Historian
It is a badge of honor in sports to have your own collectible sports card with your picture and stats distributed all over the Earth for fans to see. The earliest sports cards date to the Allen and Ginter Tobacco Company when they issued cards in 1887 featuring baseball players like Cap Anson and the great boxing legend Jack Dempsey.
Sports cards of all kinds have been issued over the past 127 years and some have featured former Aggies and Rams that any CSU fan can look at with pride. The most common sport of former Rams has been football, but it will surprise many fans to learn that there are more than just football players that have made it onto sports cards.
One card that was recently found is a Sports Illustrated for Kids 1996 card featuring Olympic great Amy Van Dyken. Just months after her four gold medal performance in Atlanta, Van Dyken's card shows her after winning a race with arms in the air.
Few women have been lucky enough to have their own sports cards, but CSU's legendary basketball great Becky Hammon's 2004 Fleer card when she was with the New York Liberty is an excellent collectible of the only Ram Women's basketball player with her number retired. Another unique card was of Jill Johnson, which is actually the 1990 CSU Volleyball pocket schedule, but looks like any sports card you can find.
Other Rams that have had cards have been in men's basketball, the two most well-known players are Pat Durham and Jason Smith. CSU baseball players have been represented by Felix "Tippy" Martinez and Mark Knudson on cards in the 70s, 80s and 90s.
One of the things about sports cards that show Ram Pride is when it states the player was from Colorado State. Although most rarely show CSU information, some of the older cards from the 50s and 60s have given stats and information about their playing days at CSU.
The oldest known professional sports card of a former CSU Student-athlete is the 1951 Bowman Rookie Card of Fum McGraw. The card, which is a mini and smaller than most, stated on the back, "Up among the National Football League's top rookie linemen in 1950. Played tackle for Colorado A and M. Won 4 varsity letters, missing but one game of 40 in college career. Won the Mountain States Conference wrestling championship for 2 seasons. Outstanding lineman in 1950 Shrine game at San Francisco. During the off-season, Thurman is occupied in construction work."
Football cards are the most common of any sport and span decades from the 1950s to the 2010s. Some all-time great Rams on sports cards include Pro Football Hall of Famer Jack Christiansen, Dale Dodrill, Don Burroughs, Jim David, Kay McFarland, Lawrence McCutcheon, Willie Miller, Mike Bell, Al "Bubba" Baker, Linden King, Kevin Call, Kelly Stouffer, Sanjay Beach, Greg Myers, Brady Smith, Sean Moran, Joey Porter, Clark Haggans, Joel Dreessen, Bradlee VanPelt, Cecil Sapp, Gartrell Johnson and many more.
There are also non-NFL player cards of former Rams like Steve Bartalo with the Frankfurt Galaxy of the World League. Two Canadian Football player cards have been Richie Hall of the Saskatchewan Roughriders and CFL Hall of Famer Less Browne of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
Rare cards are also interesting to note, such as Gary and Freddy Glick, the only CSU brothers to grace football cards. Another rare set of cards came in 1968 and 1971 when CSU Hall of Famer Lonnie Wright became the only former Ram to have a Topps Chewing Gum card in two different sports. The 1968 card shows Wright with the Cincinnati Bengals, but we all know him as a Denver Bronco. (He is wearing a Broncos uniform in the picture) His 1971 basketball card shows him with the Florida Floridians of the ABA, however, once again we know him as a Denver Rocket.
Possibly the most unique card that was recently found is a 1936 Glenn Morris card showing him throwing the javelin in the Berlin Olympic Games. This card, which is not really like most sports cards, has information about his performance in the Olympics on the back in German, which translates to read, "The javelin during the decathlon: Morris threw 54.52 m". The card is an advertisement to the motion picture "Olympia 1936", which was filmed by Leni Riefenstahl, a Nazi film maker who many believe Morris had an affair with during his time at the Berlin Olympics.
Rams in sports cards are a unique look at the professional and even Olympic careers of athletes that have been at CSU. Who knows what you have in your attic, perhaps there is a collectible of a Ram in cards that is another rare look at CSU history.
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