Saturday, June 30, 2018

Dick Hart - G

Next up in our individual player reviews is Dick Hart - the Eagles' left guard from 1967-1970.

I can remember poring over Eagles' rosters in the late 1960s and seeing one player (Hart) listed as "No College".

"What???? How can this be? How can some Joe walk off the street directly into a starting NFL job, having no previous pro or college experience? Were the Eagles' offensive line options that bleak?"

Between their 1st-round selection of Bob Brown in 1964, and taking Jerry Sisemore and Guy Morriss with 1st and 2nd round picks in 1973, the Eagles' success at drafting offensive linemen was suspect:

1965 - Ray Rissmiller (T) - #2 pick was lost to the Saints in the 1967 expansion draft.
1966 - Randy Beisler (G) - #1 pick was a part-time player for 3 years, then traded to the 49ers.
1967 - John Brooks (G) - taken in 2nd round, then cut; no NFL playing time.
1968 - 4th-round guard Len McNeil cut; G Mark Nordquist (#5) and C Mike Evans (#9) played a few years with the Eagles.
1969 - Bob Kuechenberg (G) was taken in the 4th round, then cut during training camp. He went on to a 14-year career with the Dolphins, including SIX Pro Bowls.
1969 - Wade Key was a 13th-round pick who played for the Eagles through 1979.
1970 - Ira Gordon was a guard taken in the 8th round. He was cut that summer, and played for the Chargers for 6 seasons.
1971 - Henry Allison was a 2nd-round guard who lasted only 2 seasons.
1972 - 2nd-round tackle Dan Yochum didn't make it past his first training camp.
1972 - Guards Tom Luken (3rd) and Vern Winfield (6th) were serviceable at best.

So anyway, after spending 1966 on the Eagles' taxi squad, Hart joined the starting lineup at left guard as a 24-year-old rookie in 1967, replacing the retired Ed Blaine. He played for 4 seasons, then lost the 1971 season due to a knee injury. Traded to Buffalo, he played briefly with the Bills in 1972 until another knee injury sidelined him again.

I recently learned he also played in the WFL in 1974. Also, I learned that he wasn't just your average Joe off the street in 1967. Hart (who was on the 1955 Little League World Championship baseball team) had played minor-league baseball for the Braves from 1961-65 before switching to football.

Manning the left guard spot as a rookie in 1967:

With the WFL Charlotte Stars in 1974:

Where's Waldo Dick?

Hart was inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in 2010.

Another blog post about Hart's high school baseball and track exploits, as well as minor-league baseball and pro football careers.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

RIP - Gene Ceppetelli

Gene Ceppetelli, the Eagles' center from 1968-69, passed away on June 14, 2018 at age 78.

Ceppetelli played in the CFL from 1963-67 and again from 1970-71.

Following the retirement of Hall-of-Fame center Jim Ringo after the 1967 season, the Eagles signed centers Ceppetelli and Mike Evans. Ceppetelli was the starter in 1968, but was surpassed by Evans in 1969. Gene also played for the Giants later in the 1969 season.

After his football career, Ceppetelli worked in the construction business. My father was a carpenter, and told me he once worked on a jobsite with Ceppetelli. (I think it was in the early-1980s.)

Sunday, April 8, 2018

1969 Eagles

The 1969 Eagles had a new owner (Leonard Tose), a new GM (Pete Retzlaff), a new coach (Jerry Williams), and a new star wide receiver (Harold Jackson), but still finished in last place in their division. They did manage to improve their record from 2-12 to 4-9-1 though.

(By the way, the photo in this blog's header is the 1969 team.)

What they gained by adding Jackson to their receiving corps was offset by trading offensive tackle Bob Brown to the Rams. The Birds returned 12 starters from the 1968 lineup, and also got guard Jim Skaggs and DT Floyd Peters back from injuries. Still, they weren't going to be a good team for quite awhile.

The 1969 Topps set was issued in 2 series. Cards in the 2nd series (Woodeshick, Baker, Lloyd, Scarpati) had white borders. The first series is incorrectly referred to as "borderless", as I noticed the photos are cropped on the sides, essentially having a "border" of the same color as the background.

Like most quarterbacks, Norm Snead had a card in every year's set. That's where his similarities to  "most quarterbacks" ends.

Izzy Lang was the starting halfback in '67 and '68, but didn't play for the Eagles in 1969. He was sent to the Rams in the Harold Jackson trade, and replaced in the lineup by #1 draft pick Leroy Keyes (you remember... the guy they selected just before the Steelers picked Joe Greene!)  

Tom Woodeshick returns for his 3rd and final season as the starting fullback.

With the arrival of Harold Jackson, Gary Ballman moved from split end to tight end in 1969. He was with the Eagles for all of  '67 and '68, but Topps still showed him in his Steelers' jersey. 

Fred Hill was primarily a backup during his Eagles' career, but had replaced Mike Ditka as the primary tight end in 1968. In '69, he was back on special teams.  

Sam Baker was the Eagles' kicker and punter since 1964.  1969 was his last season with the team, and he gave up his punting duties to rookie Bill Bradley.

No Eagles' defensive linemen in the 1969 set, but here are 3 veterans:

Middle linebacker Dave Lloyd played for the Eagles from 1963-70, and was a starter until midway through his last season, He made the Pro Bowl in 1969.

Nate Ramsey was a starter from 1964 to 1972, all at strong safety until moving to cornerback for his last 2 seasons.

Joe Scarpati was the team's starting free safety from 1964-69. He also was the holder for placekicks. Traded to the Saints for 1970, he was the holder for Tom Dempsey's record 63-yard field goal.

Alvin Haymond was primarily a punt and kick returner throughout his career. His only year as a starting DB was in 1968, his only season with the Eagles. By the time this card was issued, he was with the Rams.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

1968 Eagles

1968 is a low point in Eagles' history. (Well, one of them anyway.) After going 9-5 in 1966 and 6-7-1 in 1967, the Birds plummeted to 2-12 in 1968. The team lost their first ELEVEN games, then foolishly won 2 of the final 3 games, thereby blowing their shot at the #1 draft pick (O.J. Simpson).

After that fiasco, not only did the team get a new head coach and new GM, but a new owner as well (Leonard Tose).

The Eagles ended up with the 3rd overall pick, and those knuckleheads chose Purdue running back Leroy Keyes, who was less than adequate in his 4-year Eagles' career. Not only was he no O.J. Simpson, he wasn't even a Tom Woodeshick!

By the way, after the Eagles picked Keyes at #3, THE STEELERS PICKED JOE GREENE AT #4, then the Bengals picked QB Greg Cook at #5.


Here are the Eagles cards for 1968. After a 4-year hiatus, in 1968 the NFL cards were once again issued by Topps. (From 1964-67, NFL cards were produced by Philadelphia Gum Company, while the AFL cards were produced by Topps.)  Now Topps issued a combined NFL/AFL set beginning in 1968.

The downside for collectors is that while there were 12 cards per NFL team in 1967, now there were only 8 (and AFL teams only had 7 cards each).

The 1968 cards were split into 2 series. In Series 1, the NFL players appeared in the uniform of whatever team they were playing for in 1963, the last year Topps had taken NFL player photos.

Topps used new photos for most of the 2nd series cards:


Sunday, November 12, 2017

1967 Eagles

1967 is when I started collecting football cards (although I didn't start watching the games until 1970).

After finishing in 2nd place in the 8-team East Division with a 9-5 record in 1966, the Eagles slid back to 6-7-1 in 1967, still in 2nd place, but in a 4-team Capitol Division (NFL realigned to 4 divisions).

There weren't too many highlights in '67. Their 2 biggest wins came against the expansion Saints (48-21) and 2nd-year Falcons (38-7), but the Eagles got roughed up pretty good by the Cardinals (48-14), Giants (44-7), and Colts (38-6).

2nd-year split end Ben Hawkins caught 59 passes for 1265 yards, but their leading rusher (Tom Woodeshick) only had 391 yards. Pete Retzlaff retired before the season, and Timmy Brown missed half the season with injuries.  The Eagles acquired 2 good receivers before the season - Mike Ditka (for 3rd-string QB Jack Concannon) and Gary Ballman (for FB Earl Gros).

Here are all the 1967 Eagles' cards. From 1964-67, Philadelphia Gum (not Topps) made the NFL cards. (Each team had 10 player cards, plus a team card and logo card.) I accumulated all these cards in 1967 except Timmy Brown, Earl Gros, and Gary Ballman.


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

RIP - Ben Hawkins

I found out yesterday on this blog about the passing of Ben Hawkins, one of the Eagles' top 2 wide receivers from 1967 to 1972.  "Hawk" passed away on October 9th, 2017 at age 73.

Hawkins was the Eagles' 3rd-round pick in 1966, and played in every game from 1966 to 1972. He also played 4 games in 1973, and finished his career with the Browns in 1974.

In 1967 (his first year as a starter) Ben had a career-high 10 touchdowns, and led the NFL with 1265 receiving yards.

In 1968, he scored a touchdown on a 92-yard pass play from King Hill, the 4th longest in team history.

The next year, he scored 4 touchdowns in 1 game, a team record that was tied by Irving Fryar more than 25 years later. obituary

In this blog's sidebar, I have added a memorial gallery of Eagles players from 1966 to 1975.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Norm Snead - QB

This is the first post reviewing a specific player, and what better place to start than with the quarterback?

Norm Snead was acquired from the Redskins before the 1964 season for quarterback Sonny Jurgensen (ouch!)

While Jurgensen passed his way in to the "all-time greats" category (at least in the pre-1970s era), Snead plodded along with the Eagles for 7 years, before he was run out of town on a rail just before the 1971 season.

Here are all my Norm Snead cards (1964-72). Although the first 2 are prior to this blog's scope, I included them to get full picture of Snead's Eagles career.

1964 - The first of 4 years where the NFL football cards were issued by Philadelphia Gum (instead of Topps). Norm is still in his Redskins' jersey. (I think Jurgensen's '64 card shows him in Eagle green.)

1965 - Snead's first card in an Eagles' jersey.

1966 - I don't have Snead's 1966 Philly Gum card, but this "Team Leaders" card from the RetroCards company features Norm (either about to hand-off or about to fumble).

1967 - The last of the Philly Gum sets, this was the first football card set I collected (in 1967). I like how the nameplate color matches the Eagles' Kelly Green (that wasn't so for all the teams).

1968 - Topps is back in the NFL card business, issuing combined NFL/AFL sets beginning this year. After a 4-year layoff, they had a hard time getting current photos for the NFL players, so many of the 1st series cards show veterans with their pre-1964 teams.

1969 - I always thought the 1969 cards looked weird - no borders in the first series, and the players are (sometimes poorly) superimposed on a colored background.

1970 - This is Snead's final card as an Eagle. I didn't collect 1970 cards that year, and only acquired the Eagles (and a few others) in recent years.

1971 - Snead was traded to the Vikings late in the off-season, too late for Topps to include a quarterback for the Eagles, but the Vikings got 2 QB cards - Snead and Gary Cuozzo.

1972 - Ok, we're out of the Eagles' scope here, but it's my last Snead card, and I needed a 9th card for my Hollywood Squares presentation.

Where's Waldo Norm?

Monday, September 25, 2017

The Defensive Backs

Here are the primary defensive backs from 1966 to 1975:

Al Nelson played his entire career with the Eagles (1965-73).  He was a starting cornerback from 1965 to mid-1973, except for missing all but 1 game in 1967.

Jim Nettles played for the Eagles from 1965-68, and was the starting right corner in '66 and '67,

Nate Ramsey was an Eagle from 1963 to 1972, and was a starter from 1964-72.  After the 1970 season, he moved from strong safety to right cornerback.

Joe Scarpati was the Eagles' free safety from 1964-69.  After 1 season with the Saints he returned to Philly, but a '71 training camp injury ended his career.

Alvin Haymond spent 1 season with the Eagles (1968), as their starting right corner.

Irv Cross was the starting right corner from 1962-65, then after 3 seasons with the Rams he ended his career as the Birds' RCB in 1969.

Steve Preece played parts of 3 seasons with the Eagles (1970-72), and was the primary free safety in 1970, pressed into service due to the trade of Scarpati and an injury to Bill Bradley.

Leroy Keyes was the Eagles' #1 pick in 1969.  After 2 disappointing seasons at halfback, he moved to strong safety for '71 and '72, where he was marginally better.

John Outlaw joined the Eagles in 1973 and was the starting left corner from mid-1973 through 1978.

Joe Lavender and Randy Logan were both rookies in 1973, and immediately became the Eagles' starting right corner and strong safety respectively (Lavender for 3 seasons, and Logan for 11).

Bill Bradley played for the Eagles from 1969 to 1976.  Injured for most of 1970, he was the starting free safety from 1971 to 1976,  He was also the team's punter and punt returner.

Friday, August 4, 2017

RIP - John Reaves

John Reaves - the Eagles' #1 draft pick in 1972, passed away on August 1, 2017 at age 67.

A 3-year starter at the University of Florida, Reaves was the NCAA all-time leading passer upon graduation.

He was the Eagles' #1 pick in the '72 draft, and started 7 games in his rookie season (while relieving Pete Liske in 4 other games). The following season the team acquired Roman Gabriel, so Reaves rode the bench for 2 seasons.

He later played for the Bengals (1975-78), Vikings (1979-80), Oilers (1981) and Buccaneers (in 1987 as a strike replacement). Reaves also played for Tampa Bay in the USFL from 1983-85.

In the 1990s, he was an assistant coach at the University of Florida under Steve Spurrier.

Miami Herald obituary

ESPN obituary