Friday 5 July 2019

Blog bat-around - Favorites of the decades

It has been a while since I jumped on a blog bat-around. This one was started by Chris at The Collector blog.

Of course, this being a blog that is focused on Cleveland Browns football cards, I will show my favorite football card designs along with some of my favorite movies and songs from the various decades.

I can't really say that the songs and movies wouldn't change if I were to do this again in six months, and I'm sure that after I finish this blog post I will think of different songs that I should have used, but I'll try to give reasons why I have made each choice at this point in time.

As usual, I'll borrow card images from The Trading Card Database, although I'm going to use cards that I have copies of in my collection.

Movie poster images have been taken from each movie's listing at IMDb, the Internet Movie Database.

Music is linked from YouTube.


1955 Bowman #2

Okay, the 1950s choice was tough. Although I may not be a big fan of the modern day digital backgrounds we often see behind a photo of a player, I like these cards. There is a lot of color in the backgrounds, with a white aura around the player. And to me, there seemed to be a cachet to the Bowman name, in how it proceeded Topps, although the 1956 Topps was really close to being chosen.

I love how McCormack seems to be launching himself right out of the card at us. And, man, does his fist look big!


I am a pretty big movie fan. There are always old movies that I need to see, as well as many that I need to see again. However, when asked my favorite movies, there are ones that are always in the top spots of my list. My favorite movie musical is among them.

film from 1952

There are plenty of other movies that I could have chosen here, but this one will always bring a smile to my face when I watch it. I only wish I could dance like Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor do in this movie.

There were many other movies that come to mind from the 1950s - Hitchcock movies, war movies, James Dean movies, the first movie musical I ever remember finding on my own to watch on tv, and that I couldn't change the channel from as a kid (Guys and Dolls), and classics that I've watched again recently on Turner Classic Movies (such as Twelve Angry Men). It would almost be better for me if I could pick favorite movies from different categories.


If I thought picking a favorite movie from the 1950s was tough, I don't know what I'll do about a favorite song.

I love all types of music, and thank my parents for introducing me to so many styles when I was a kid. My parents listened to bagpipe music, marching bands, ragtime, big bands, country, and Broadway. The radio stations gave me pop and rock. Blues and jazz came along later in life.

A lot of things pop into mind when I think of 1950s music, but really I think it should be about the beginning of rock and roll. And the first two names that came to mind when I thought of early rock were Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly.

From there, I narrowed down my choice of favorite 1950s song (at this moment) to:

I've always loved the energy to Buddy Holly's "Rave On!", and as good as many of his other songs are, it is my favorite Buddy Holly song.


This came down to two years, and both have had cards featured on this blog lately. My very first thought of was 1962 Topps, but when I thought more about it, I had to go with...

1964 Philadelphia #30

...the 1964 Philadelphia set.

Now, if I were just rating the sets, I think that I would have gone with 1962 Topps, but I'm going with Cleveland Browns cards from the set, and almost all of the Browns cards have Jim Brown's Cadillac in the background.


The 1960s are going to be a difficult for movies. Unlike most of the other decades, there isn't a movie from the 1960s in the top slots in my favorite movie lists.

The spaghetti westerns were going to be beat out by "The Magnificent Seven". Some of my favorite war movies were in the running, "The Longest Day", "The Devil's Brigade" and Jim Brown's film debut in "The Dirty Dozen". And that is just two genres of movies.

If I want to be true to myself, however, I think that I will be going with another musical. There were some great musicals in the 1960s, but my mom introduced me to a classic that I could probably sing every song to right now. (And, yes, I have gone to see a charity fundraiser sing-a-long screening of this musical.)

film from 1965

Sorry, Christopher Plummer, I know that you don't like being remembered for this movie, but it is still one of my favorites.


I love sixties music, and I love vocal music with great harmonies. One of my favorite singing groups is the Beach Boys.

Having narrowed down my music choice to the Beach Boys, I had to then pick a song. Younger me probably wouldn't have picked "God Only Knows" as my favorite, but I just find this to be one of the most beautiful songs that I've heard.


The 1970s had a lot of designs that I like, but I chose 1974 because of the way the design frames the card, especially for the cards that had action shots.

1974 Topps #491

Don't you agree that the uprights provide good framing?


Even though there is some amazing competition among movies in the 1970s, one movie has been my all-time favorite since I saw it in the drive-in as a kid.

film from 1977

"Star Wars" taught me the spectacle that movies could be, and I will never get sick of the John Williams score. Still to this day, if I hear the 20th Century Fox Fanfare, I expect to hear the theme to "Star Wars" continuing on from it.

I will give an honorable mention to my favorite animated Disney movie, their 1973 version of "Robin Hood". I tell you, that Maid Marion, what a fox!


For music, young Angus in the 1970s would have probably picked some Kenny Rogers or Glen Campbell song. High School Angus probably would have picked Billy Joel's "Piano Man".

Current me will pick a friend of mine's most famous song, and a song that I have sung at karaoke many times (but not in front of my friend.)

I've always liked the song "Signs" by the Five Man Electrical Band, and while in college I would go into used music/record stores looking to find a cassette copy. I never had any luck. Finally, after CDs took over, a greatest hits CD of the Five Man Electrical Band came out and I found a copy. I was thrilled.

I always knew that the Five Man Electrical Band was from Ottawa, and would often see the lead singer/songwriter's name on local marquees as he was playing in local bars. However, I never expected to become friends with Les Emmerson. I met him playing trivia over a decade ago, and became friends with him. We still play trivia together, golf together now and then (but not this year due to my injury), and have some great discussions about music, among other things.

Honestly, I can't say this is my favorite 1970s song because as I've told Les, it isn't even my favorite Five Man song, even though it is their most popular.

When I told Les my favorite Five Man song, he said that I had picked a great song, and that it was very personal to him, but other than that, I always joke that it must be my favorite because he isn't the one singing. If you're curious, look up "The Man With the Horse and Wagon", even though I'm not picking it for this post. (I'll have to tell Les about this post. He'll get a kick out of it.)


I almost picked the 1986 McDonald's set for the 1980s, partly because it had 24 different players represented in it, and partly because I liked the information given on the back of their oversized cards.

However, since I'm looking at this from a design perspective, I'm going to go with the clean and simple look of 1989 Score.

1989 Score #129

Of course 1989 marked the start of the expansion of football card sets with Pro Set and Score joining Topps in putting out cards. I enjoyed all three designs, but I think this one is just a little better.


I find my favorite 1980s movie to be very quotable, and when I quote it people often know the movie.

film from 1987

I regret that I didn't see this movie in the theatre when it came out, but it is a movie that became one of my favorites the minute that I saw it for the first time on VHS tape. It is a movie that I would often played when I was in a bad mood, knowing that it would cheer me up.

I should watch it again sometime soon. It has been a while since I've seen it. (Not that I'm in a bad mood now...)


I like too much 1980s music, and my choice here could change every day if asked.

For today, I have picked a song that I love that exemplifies 80s music and its synthesizers.

Of course, upon hearing Europe's "The Final Countdown", my roommate always expects there to be a magic trick. I think he watches too much Arrested Development.


With the card boom hitting, going through all the different sets is going to be a bit of work. As a Browns fan, however, at least some of the years of the decade didn't matter.

I was pretty sure that I was going to choose the oversize 1995 Pacific Gridiron cards as my favorite set of the 1990s, but then when I came across the following set I realized that I preferred it.

1999 Playoff Absolute SSD #174

The two sets couldn't be more different. The Pacific Gridiron card backs actually told the story of the game photo. These Absolute SSD backs have minimal information. They don't have room. The card border surrounds the see through plastic photo. Sure there are parallels, but they are really easy to figure out - the different color borders are very obvious.

As I looked through my 1990s cards, this set jumped out at me with how different it was. That was a good thing. I don't think that I would want to see a set like this every year, but I love this one.


I'm sure that I'm not the only one that sometimes has the problem that when I see certain movies on television, I have to watch the rest of the movie.

For the following movie, another of my all-time favorites, I don't know why I will sit and watch it on tv when I can get up and play the DVD and not have to worry about commercials, but I do.

film from 1994

This is another movie that I missed in the theatre. A friend told me to watch it and it blew me away. What a great story!


Okay, my song from the 1990s is going to draw some laughter but good memories come along with this song. It is the first song that came to mind when I thought of the 90s.

I was working as an overnight server at the first Denny's to open in Ottawa when "Wannabe" hit it big. Not only was it played constantly on the radio stations, but it seemed to be coming on the music service at work hourly.

Of course, everyone has to know the back and forth, "Tell me what you want, what you really, really want." "I'll tell you what I want, what I really, really want." Well, one of my colleagues and I got to the point where we would sing along with it, and each other, when the song came on...over and over again. We camped it up, and had fun.

A few bloggers have met me in Arizona, and in Watertown. If they were to describe me, I'm sure one of the words that would be used is big. I've gained weight since I worked at Denny's over twenty years ago, but I was still big then too. People joked that I was the overnight bouncer while I was working.

My colleague was not quite my size, but he was a good size too. I know that we got a lot of laughter while we were singing along to this so I'm assuming that the drunk, overnight patrons enjoyed our show.


Okay, quickly going through my Browns cards from the 2000s took a lot longer than I thought it would. There were a lot of sets that I really enjoyed, to go along with a bunch that made me wonder what the designers were thinking. There were a lot of old school designs that I really appreciated. Since the designs themselves could have gone in many directions, I decided to add the concept of the set to my decision making, and really that narrowed the field to one brand, and just left me to decide which year to choose.

2006 Topps Total #212

You may look at this card, and go, "Who?", but to me, that is the point of this card and set.

Mason Unck played in 44 games with the Browns from 2003-06, and is represented in two card sets in his career - Topps Total in 2005 and 2006.

Matt Stewart played in 60 games in his career with the Falcons and Browns from 2001-06, with his last two seasons being with the Browns. He had some rookie cards in three sets, and appeared in the Topps Total sets from 2003 and 2004 with the Falcons, and is only represented in his Browns career with the 2006 Topps Total set.

Jason Fisk played in 107 games from 1995-2006, with Minnesota from 1995-98, Tennessee from 1999-2001, San Diego from 2003-04, Cleveland in 2005, and St. Louis in 2006. He appeared in three sets: 2002 Fleer Platinum, and 2003 and 2006 Topps Total.

I loved the idea of Topps Total. They didn't show the entire team, football rosters are too big, but this 2006 set has 30 Browns represented. I don't mind shared cards like this. As a kid, I loved league leader cards that showed multiple players. Why would you think that I wouldn't like seeing solid players share a card so that they would be represented in a set?

I also love that these cards are on cardboard. I don't need glossy. I don't need bells and whistles. This Topps Total was great!


I was around twelve when I was introduced to J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle Earth. I loved "The Hobbit" and its dwarves, and then moved on to tackle the three books of "The Lord of the Rings". It turned out to not be the challenge that I thought it might be.

Can there be any doubt that my favorite movies of the 2000s would be the introduction of Peter Jackson's vision of Middle Earth to the big screen? Not in my mind.

film from 2001

I eagerly awaited each installment of "The Lord of the Rings" with its December release, and then enjoyed receiving the extended edition DVDs from my sister for Christmas the following year. (This pattern continued through the Hobbit movies as well.)

I may have some minor complaints over the course of the movies, but all in all I'm still thrilled to have the Middle Earth books put on the big screen. It has been a while since I've sat down and watched all three extended edition LOTR movies back to back to back, and I've never tried to do it with the three Hobbit movies before it. I should think of doing it while I still have the free time right now.


A song from the 2000s...

I could have a different favorite song for so many different styles of music. So, when in doubt, fall back to movie musicals and a video made for it with attractive women with great voices.

"Lady Marmalade" - Missy Elliott introducing Mya, P!nk, Lil' Kim and Xtina…

I know it's a remake. I don't care. This remake was huge in 2001. No apologies.

I went with the official video above, but also gave a lot of thought to using a video from their Grammy performance with Patti Labelle.


Did I mention that this has taken a lot longer than I thought it would?

<looks back in the post>

Yep. I mentioned it in the 2000s.

The surprising thing to me is that it isn't the movie or song that is taking so long. It is reviewing all the card sets. A few different sets caught my eye. I really like the Topps Magic and Topps Valor sets, and I really liked the horizontal design of the 2011 Panini Threads set. However, I preferred this set just a bit more.

2017 Panini Illusions #85

I absolutely love the base 100 card set for 2017 Panini Illusions. I wish that there was more than three Browns in it.


I have enjoyed a whole bunch of movies in the 2010s. Three from early in the decade that spawned sequels are "Ted", "The Expendables" and "Pitch Perfect". I considered all three of them.

I really didn't consider the Cleveland Browns centered "Draft Day", as fun as I think it is to me.

Both "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" and "John Wick" also came close, but they just couldn't beat out a sequel to a super-hero movie.

film from 2014

I have collected comics since my teens. I was never a huge Captain America fan. The movies have changed that, and this movie is my favorite of all the modern super-hero movies that have been made.

To me, it isn't just a super-hero movie, it is a great spy action movie that just happens to involve super-heroes.


For 2010s music, I'm going to give a shout out to a singer that I was introduced to as a soloist with Postmodern Jukebox, Aubrey Logan.

She sings. She plays trombone. She does one-handed cartwheels on stage.

I have seen her sing twice with Postmodern Jukebox, once in a solo concert in New York City, and once with the group Dave Koz and the Summer Horns, and I have been blown away by her talent every time I have seen her.

Although I saw Aubrey Logan perform this song live in her solo show, I absolutely love her version of "Route 66" that she recorded and sang with Dave Koz and the Summer Horns. (I believe that Night Owl had to listen to me raving about the concert I attended in one of my trips with him from Watertown to Syracuse.)

The intro is a little long here, but, oh, the music!

Again, I know this isn't a new song, but it is a new version, and is found on the Dave Koz and the Summer Horns II from A to Z CD that I picked up when I saw them, and that is hyped in this video. Being on a new CD in the 2010s makes this a 2010s song to me.

Aubrey Logan is currently touring with Dave Koz and the Summer Horns. If they are anywhere near you, and you like horns, I highly recommend the concert. The band is so tight! I wish they were playing nearer to me, or that I was healthy enough for a longer road trip to see them.

Outside of this cover, Aubrey Logan also has many amazing original songs that she wrote and recorded on her two albums. I highly recommend both albums, "Impossible", and her recent "Where the Sunshine is Expensive". She really seems to have found her sound with her new album.


There you go. I've finally finished with this blog bat-around. Thanks for sticking with it until the end, and I hope you enjoyed my selections.

Doing this blog post has made me want to dig into a series of reviewing the various base sets each year. I know it isn't an original idea, but it may show a bunch of different football card sets to many of you that aren't as familiar with them. With the amount of sets each year, I think each post will take quite a while to put together so it probably won't be starting too soon.


  1. Great read, Angus. I wonder how many of us are going to choose Star Wars? I never saw the music video for Wannabe until last year somehow. I remember Moulin Rouge quite well though.

  2. '89 Score did have a nice clean design.

  3. I too am a lover of musicals. I think we might differ though on some of our favorites, but I can definitely get down with Singin' in the Rain. Some interesting card set choices as well, you'll probably be the only one to choose a Philadelphia set as your favorite.

  4. The Jim Brown Philadelphia card is awesome. I don't know enough about vintage football to have a favorite, but my favorite '80s sets are 1986 Topps and 1988 Topps. 1989 Score is a nice one, too. I'm glad Panini rebooted it for 2019.

  5. I'm excited to join in on this BBA, but I'm gonna break it down into parts. I have figured out my movies... and I noticed that two of them are on your list.

    P.S. I've only seen the portrait 1974 Topps cards. That landscape Sherk is awesome!

  6. Love that you picked 1955 Bowman. That's one of four 1950s sets that I'm hoping to someday complete.

    It's also one of my favorites because it contains Frank Gatski's rookie. I have a handful of those.

  7. Football cards is a nice twist!

    As you know, I've heard some of the stories you told here, the ones about Les and Aubrey, but the Denny's one is new to me! That's quite the picture.

    Almost picked Shawshank on my post. Did NOT almost pick The Final Countdown.