Category Archives: News

Searching for Dusty Baker: Completing the 1971 Topps Baseball Set

Summer of ’71

What began in the early summer of 1971 finally came to fruition on a cold March day in 2017. Baseball card collecting began when I was six. Our newspaper boy graciously offered his small collection of 1971 Topps baseball cards to me. There was about 50 cards in all. I studied them and took them to “show and tell”. I took them everywhere I went, as such, they never had a chance to be in mint condition.

1971 Topps

A few of the original 50 cards given to me.

I never worried too much about the condition of the cards I acquired for this set. Over the years, I had picked up some of  the well-known players from the 1971 Topps set as well as “lots” of 50 or 100 cards here and there. I really began to think about completing the 1971 set in the mid 2000’s when I realized I had about 2/3 of the set.

The Men in Black: 1971 Topps Baseball Set

Collecting 2/3 of this set was really just the beginning of putting this set together as I would learn. Much has been written in the collectibles universe about the 1971 Topps Baseball Set and I can tell you that it is all true. The black borders, hi numbers, seven series, short prints, all lend a dynamic to the collecting of this set that adds fun and frustration. Hence the dozen or so years to wrap up the task of completing the set.

1971 Topps

The 1971 Topps Baseball Set was recently featured in Sports Collectors Digest.

The entire project was hastened, thanks to Mrs. V. Every birthday or Christmas, Mrs. V would  contribute to the collection. Exchanging cash for cardboard went against every fiber in her body. But loves overcomes and she was a major contributor to the completion of the 1971 Topps Baseball Set.

Dusty Baker/Don Baylor rookie card number 709

Whenever you complete a set of sports cards, you never know what card will be the last one needed. For me it happened to be the Dusty Baker/Don Baylor rookie card number 709. It was a rookie card, a hi number, and a short print. I needed about 15 cards to wrap up the set so I attended the Philadelphia Sportscard and Memorabilia Show on March 4. Those reasons I mentioned above for taking a dozen years to complete this set surfaced at this convention. I had to visit about 20 dealers until I finally tucked away the last card needed.

My set would grade fair to good overall. As I was looking over the completed set, I noticed I had two Frank Johnson cards in my album.

1971 Topps

My system was flawed. These are duplicates purchased…after I already owned them.

1971 Topps

One of my pages has two Frank Johnson cards. That throws the entire album off by one. It upsets me just to type this.

His card is number 128, that would mean moving over 600 cards back one slot. Well, guess what? That extra card is staying put. Every time you glance incorrectly at one of these black border beauties, a fleck of the black border comes off.

1971 Topps

I found this card on the street. It is more brittle than a Dead Sea Scroll found in a Bedouin Cave.

I have a few 1959 Topps baseball cards…But I am certain…Mrs.V is not ready for that pursuit. That would be even older cardboard.

You can follow me on Twitter right HERE.


A Small Gallery of Vintage Football Helmets

A Word About Football Helmets

A number of years ago, we ventured west, to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. What follows are a few photos of football helmets that were on display at the Hall of Fame. The evolution of the signature piece of a football player’s protective equipment is quite remarkable . Knit caps could be regarded as the first type of protective headgear. We now have scientifically designed battle ready headgear with wireless radios that resembles nothing of the helmets of the early years. Is that good or bad? Every so often, a voice or two, will be heard suggesting a softer, more leather like, football helmet. I enjoy reading such opinions but they usually fade into the internet abyss. Here is an article that is fascinating in regards to a possible new helmet technology that actually makes the helmet collapsible. Time will tell.

Gallery from the Pro Football Hall of Fame

Football Helmets

Dante Lavelli–Cleveland Browns–1946 thru 1956.

Football Helmets

Lou Creekmur—Detroit Lions—1950’s.

Football Helmets

Early 60’s Patriot Helmet—AFL.


Football Helmets

Buffalo Bill’s mid 60’s Helmet. Times have changed. Billy Shaw played with this Cracked Helmet.

Football Helmets

Green Bay–Classic Single Bar Facemask.

Football Helmets

Tony Canadeo–Green Bay–1941 to 1952.

Football Helmets

Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Oldest Football and a Turn of the Century Helmet.

Football Helmets

Lots of Destruction Represented in Chuck Bednarik’s Helmet.

Football Helmets

Display says it all. “A Victim of Violent Combat”.

Football Helmets

Doak Walker–Detroit Lions–Suspension Helmet.

A football helmet is a very personal and individualistic piece of equipment. A player will strategize in a helmet. A player communicates, recovers, protects himself, gathers himself, and lastly, a player insulates himself in a helmet. A few helmets are immediately identifiable just by their essence. Such helmets belonging to Peyton Manning, Terry Bradshaw, Garo Yepremian, Jim Otto, and Eric Dickerson are easily recognizable. Some are not so identifiable but still hold the same personal and protective attributes, just not as well-known.

Football Helmets

Football Helmets thru the Years.

Football Helmets

Willie Lanier–Specially Padded–1960’s.

Fun and Informative Resources

My personal collection is small, I was late to the helmet game. I have been collecting a helmet from each decade of the 20th century as a timeline of the football helmet.

Football Helmets


Football Helmets

But Mrs. V let me get this—1960’s MacGregor Football Helmet E69G Large Los Angeles Rams—$39.99 on Ebay.

There are wonderful resources on the Internet such as:

The Helmet Hut and the

Uni Watch is simply the best site for all things uniform related and they tweet prolifically.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame is a vast resource in your quest for knowledge.

One of my favorite twitter accounts is Helmet Addict and their website is here.

You can follow Finding Nostalgia on Twitter here.


From Williamsport Pa to Queens NY with Bobby Valentine

Meeting Bobby Valentine for the First Time

I live about one mile from the Little League World Series complex in South Williamsport PA. During the Little League World Series of 2010, I attended a mid-week game with my son, Nick. During the series, Ron, my brother-in-law is the scoreboard operator for many of the games including the championship games. Nick and I sat a couple of rows in front of Ron’s perch at the control panel. We were enjoying the game when Bobby Valentine and ESPN Baseball Tonight‘s Karl Ravech took a couple of seats directly behind us. This was unexpected. (I remember sending a text to my friend about ten rows in front of me stating that “Bobby Valentine is sitting RIGHT behind me”. I can still see him slowly turn his head toward me in disbelief after he received my text.)

We listened and enjoyed their baseball dialogue throughout the game. They allowed us to take a couple of photographs. It was a memorable night. When it was time for the 7th inning stretch (4th inning in LL), the whole stadium stood… except for Bobby. When we took our seats, Nick told me that Bobby Valentine did not stand for the 7th inning stretch and that he, Nick, would no longer stand either. My son then said “Real Baseball Men Don’t Stand for the 7th Inning”.

Meeting Bobby Valentine for the Second Time

January of 2017, I made plans to attend the Queens Baseball Convention in Astoria, Queens. Bobby Valentine would be one of the primary speakers at the mid winter gathering of Mets fans. He was captivating, humorous, sincere, and informative in his panel discussion. Here is the Bobby Valentine discussion. (Thanks to

Queens Baseball Convention

Bobby V and Matt Cerrone of

It was a joy listening to him just as it had been seven years ago in South Williamsport. We, the fans, had the opportunity to meet Bobby and get his autograph. I would have him sign the photograph that I had taken at the LLWS in 2010.

Bobby Valentine

He is one cool dude.

Bobby Valentine

The little, blurry head on the badge in the extreme upper right is my brother-in-law at the scoreboard control panel.


I had the fun of telling Bobby the story of how we met at the Little League World Series and the lasting effect on my son. He chuckled as he autographed the photo: “To Nick, Real Baseball Men Don’t Stand for the 7th inning”…..”Bobby Valentine”.

How about that!


You might as well follow me on twitter @svuocolo31. The @Mets do.

Bonus Pic

Bobby Valentine

Cross that off the Bucket List.