Sports have always been a part of my life. My parents were both active in sports before I was born and I picked up the sporting gene from them and have carried it with me through most of my life. Another one of my loves has always been movies. I used to work at a video store (when it was popular) and I probably saw every movie that came out from 1988 to 1998 if I had to guess. That is an exaggeration of course, but I’ve seen a lot of movies. Fortunately for me, movies and sports have always worked very well together.
If my recall is working properly, I believe the first sports movie I ever saw was the 1982 Comedy “Six Pack”, starring Kenny Rogers. It also featured such names as Diane Lane, Anthony Michael Hall, Erin Gray and perennial bad guy, Terry Kiser. Of course, Kenny sang the theme song to the movie, “Love Will Turn You Around.” I don’t know why I remember a film that I haven’t seen in probably 20 years so vividly but it has stuck with me.
As I was preparing for this piece, which is ultimately a review of a sweet trading card set that recently released, the thought occurred to me that I could try to work up a ranking of the best sports movies of my generation. I like lists in writing almost as much as I like movies in day to day life. But as I started going through all of the sports movies I’ve seen over 41 years, I realized that I could never properly rank the films and give them the proper amount of respect they deserve. I mean, how do you rank a genre that includes Rocky, Bull Durham and Major League? So instead of ranking sports films, I decided that we could just discuss some of my favorites.
Stroker Ace (1983) – Before we move on from racing, I have to include this gem. First of all, any movie involving Burt Reynolds and cars in the 80’s was an instant classic. This one also starred Loni Anderson, Ned Beatty and Jim Nabors with a special appearance by several real life drivers like Dale Earnhardt. This was a comedy that was roundly met with criticism when it was released but that doesn’t stop me from putting it on a favorites list. Let’s chalk this one up to nostalgia!
The Best of Times (1986) – This is another film that may not be plastered on great movie lists but I remember this one vividly as well. It starred Kurt Russell and Robin Williams as former high school football players fully entrenched in their adult life but both hanging on to the past for different reasons. Russell was the star QB who had fallen on hard times and Williams was a reserve wide receiver who dropped a pass in the championship game and has never been able to forget it. They decide to put together an alumni game to both relive their high school glory days and also give Williams a chance to redeem himself after all the years of miserable memories.
Friday Night Lights (2004) – I loved the movie and the TV Series on this one. I’m not from Texas but I have always heard about Texas High School Football and what it means to small towns. It always reminded me of high school football in my small town during the 80’s and early 90’s. Another great piece of football filmography came out of the movie as well, many years later, in the form of an ESPN 30 for 30 called “What Carter Lost.” This is one of my favorite 30 for 30’s as well!
Varsity Blues (1999) – Texas = High School Football, right?
Hoosiers (1986) – Not only is this my favorite basketball movie; this is easily a top 5 favorite movie of all time. It’s the classic “chance at redemption” story that stars Gene Hackman as the coach of an Indiana High School Basketball team. If Texas is synonymous with High School Football, Indiana is the equivalent for High School Basketball. Has there ever been a more pure shooter in a movie than Jimmy Chitwood?
Major League (1989) – This is another top 5 all time favorite film. As a matter of fact, I have about 15 top 5 films! Even if you don’t love baseball, you love Major League. It is loaded with stars; Charlie Sheen, Wesley Snipes, Tom Berenger, Rene Russo, Corbin Bernsen, Dennis Haysbert and Bob Uecker! There will never be a better baseball movie, PERIOD! (Can you follow period with an exclamation point?) They even got their own cards in 2014 Topps Archives.
Bull Durham (1988) – This one is a very close second to Major League. This was an awesome inside look at minor league baseball and featured the great duo of grizzled veteran catcher Crash Davis (Kevin Costner) and young flamethrower Nuke LaLoosh (Tim Robbins). Susan Sarandon was also a great part of this film! This was a great film and a great watch even today. These guys got their own cards in Archives as well in 2016.
The Sandlot (1993) – Yet another “Video Superstore” classic, this film was so relatable to kids my age when it came out. We spent the summer playing baseball in each other’s yards and I even had a killer dog next door that tried to attack us whenever we hit a ball in his yard. This killer dog was about a foot tall and weighed 35 pounds but he was vicious! And from a collector standpoint, I totally understood the severity of losing a ball signed by Babe Ruth! Guess what; there are going to be Sandlot cards in 2018 Topps Archives and I can’t wait for that release.
Caddyshack (1980) – Yep, this is another Top 5 for me! Is there anyone with a pulse that doesn’t like the movie Caddyshack? Chevy Chase, Bill Murray and Rodney Dangerfield made this comedy one of the all time funniest movies I’ve ever seen. There are so many classic scenes like the Baby Ruth in the pool, Ty “playing through” Carl’s home and Rodney Dangerfield at the Club Dinner. Now do you see why I couldn’t actually rank these films? How could I compare this and “Hoosiers”?
Ultra-Pro® Single Card Screwdown. Acrylic. Displays cards up to a 2-5/8 x 3-3/4″. 3-1/8 x 5-3/16 x 1/4″ outside dimension. 4-screw. Crystal clear. Acid-free. Beveled edges. Non-recessed.
I don’t have enough room to cover every great sports film ever made but I am leaving out such greats as:
- Rocky (1976)
- The Bad News Bears (1976)
- The Natural (1984)
- Mighty Ducks (1992)
- White Men Can’t Jump (1992)
- The Program (1993)
- Kingpin (1996)
- Jerry Maguire (1996)
- The Waterboy (1998)
- Happy Gilmore (1999)
- Any Given Sunday (1999)
- Remember the Titans (2000)
- Dodgeball (2004)
- We Are Marshall (2006)
I’m sure you are wondering by now where the payoff is as it relates to sports cards. Don’t worry, there is one and I really couldn’t be more excited about it. Last year, I was introduced to a set of sports cards that was unlike any other I had ever seen.
The set was simply called “Trading Cards” and featured famous athletes/sports figures from television and the big screen. These weren’t just photos of the athletes either; these were miniature hand drawn pieces of art. The first card I saw was a “George Costanza / Assistant to the Traveling Secretary” on a wood grain 1987 Topps design. My jaw hit the floor and I began my quest to learn about these cards.
I discovered this set as Series 2 was about to be released in an art gallery. Costanza was from Series 1 and I quickly found that it was sold out. There are a few from the previous releases still available and I’ll discuss how you can find those at the end of this post. Even though I missed the boat on the initial release, I quickly set my sights on Series 2. I learned that the set was the brainchild of a brilliant artist out of California, Cuyler Smith. He is well decorated with a BFA in animation from Laguna College of Art and Design and an MFA in illustration from California State University Fullerton. His love for film and art led him from Texas to California to pursue his career in Fine Arts but it was a specific exhibit at Gallery 1988 a few years ago that led to this amazing creation.
His first piece was Jimmy Duggan (Tom Hanks) of “A League of Their Own” for the aforementioned exhibit at Gallery 1988 which featured films from Hanks’ career. Along with creating prints, he decided to try a few trading cards and they really blew up! He then began working on other athletes from famous movies and shows and created his first full series of cards. He uses a lot of retro designs to display these characters and they match up very well with the timeline of the film in most cases.
I purchased a pack and some singles last year when Series 2 released and wrote about them HERE.
I recently received a message from Cuyler on Twitter that Series 3 was about to release so I immediately found myself just as excited as I was the year before when Series 2 was unveiled. The release in and of itself is interesting and unique, just like the set itself. The release starts as a weekend art exhibit at Gallery 1988 with framed artist proofs, packs and single cards on display. They officially go on sale the Saturday after the Friday night release and you can purchase them directly from the gallery website.
Let’s cover the breakdown of the set before we get into specific cards that I purchased from Series 3. The set totals 40 different subject cards and all of the cards are numbered to 90 prints. So right off the top, one of the coveted desires of card collectors, scarcity, is met with a resounding checkmark. When these sell out, they are gone; trust me! To go with the numbering, the back of the cards are also signed by the artist. Another one of the desires for card collectors is focused around authenticity and you know you have an original when it is hand numbered and signed.
Ultra-PRO Mini-Snap Case. Holds one 20 pt. card. 2-5/8 x 3-5/8 x 3/16″. Crystal-clear, no PVC, acid-free material. Snaps closed.
The packs are also signed and they include 5 total cards with one of the cards being Jerry Seinfeld from his “Improv” softball team. The Seinfeld cards are pack exclusives so yeah, another checkmark for collectors. The packs are $85 and as of this writing, there are about 25 left to be sold so don’t waste any time if you are interested. Think about this; for $85, you get a Jerry Seinfeld and 4 other personally assorted hand-signed and numbered cards. There are no dupes in any of the packs and we all know how disappointing that can be. If $85 doesn’t fit in your budget, you can buy single cards for $15 while they remain available, so there is honestly something for everyone. These are all hand signed and numbered as well.
So enough talk; let’s see what Series 3 has in store. I purchased a pack and 3 singles when they released on Saturday, May 19th. I will cover the singles first and you’ll probably understand why I had to have these!
Michael Scarn – As a HUGE fan of the office, I had to have this Michael Scarn! This is one TV series that I have watched multiple times from beginning to end on NetFlix so consider this addition personal!
Carl Spackler – Caddyshack is one of the movies I listed above as a Top 5 of All Time so I had to make sure I got this Carl Spackler. I picked it up as a single to avoid any chance it wasn’t in the pack. This is a vintage Topps design but I can’t pinpoint the year!
Kelly Kapowski – If you have ever read my blog before, you know that Kelly Kapowski has a special place in my heart. I picked up AC Slater last year so I had to go with Kelly this year. This might be a Dub 1 of 1 because on a scale of 1-10, Kelly was a 41! I think this is ’85 Fleer but I can’t be for certain.
Now it was time for the pack and it even has a nice retro feel. It is a wax pack and is signed on the back by Cuyler Smith.
Jerry Seinfeld – The first card in the pack is the exclusive Jerry Seinfeld. This was one of my favorite episodes as George took out Bette Midler at the plate just as Kramer was bringing her shaved ice. It was a big win for the Improv but it came back to haunt Jerry and George as Jerry was dating Midler’s backup. The result wasn’t pretty!
Billy Heywood – Billy was the kid manager in “Little Big League”, which was another “Video Superstore” classic. One of my favorite lines from the film was, “You should start Wedman!” One of my friends used to say that to me non-stop at the video store! If you collected like I did in the early 90’s, you will surely remember 1993 Topps.
Phil Brickma – This is another classic junk wax design in 1990 Fleer! This is also another character from a kids movie in the mid-90’s, Rookie of the Year. Phil Brickma was the goofy pitching coach of the Chicago Cubs and tried to guide Henry Rowengartner through his rookie major league season. His classic line during this particular scene was, “Let the big dog eat!”
Kelly Kapowski – I pulled a Kelly in the pack so now I have two of them and there isn’t a card in my whole collection that I would rather have two of! We’ve already talked about her so let’s just take a minute to look at the card again.
Donny Kerabatsos – The final card was this sweet 1987 Topps version of Steve Buscemi’s character in “The Big Lebowski”. Buscemi is one of my favorite character actors and 1987 Topps is iconic so this was a nice way to close out the pack!
There you have it; the single cards and full pack that I just added to my Series 2 collection. I can’t overstate just how good these cards are from a quality perspective. They are on nice stock, have a real retro feel and the artistry is second to none. As you know, I am a big fan of art cards in all sets. There are a few cards I may look for from a single perspective to add before they sell out. There is a Pedro Cerrano (Major League) 1989 Upper Deck, Jeff Spicoli (Fast Times), Zoya The Destroya (GLOW), Nacho Libre, Peter La Fleur (Dodgeball), Rico Dynamite (Napolean Dynamite), Jim Halpert (The Office) and Thurman from The Furies (The Warriors) right off the bat that I want. I may have to just get another pack!
If you are interested in picking up any of these cards or a pack, head over to www.nineteeneightyeight.com and search the “Current Exhibits” or just type in Cuyler Smith in the search bar to find all of his work. He can also be found on Twitter @cuylersmith and Instagram @cuylersmith. His personal website is www.cuylersmith.com. If you enjoy sports cards and great art work, you can’t go wrong with this set. What do you think about Trading Cards 3? I’d love to hear from you in the comment section!
Toploader Display Stand – SMALL. 2-1/2 x 3-3/8 x 2″ (W x H x D). Made of crystal clear Lucite. Holds Single Card Lucites, Screwdowns, and Toploaders (not included).