thenavarro's 1988 Notre Dame FB autographed card set added leprechaun and cheerleaders ;)

I always have my signed rookies as an ongoing project, but I like to have at least one other collecting project going at the same time. Since I am close to wrapping up my 81 Donruss Golf autographed set (I have 62 of the 65), I've decided to embark on another autographed card project. I wanted something that had a bit of personal meaning to it for me, so I've chosen to do the 1988 Notre Dame football set. It's a 60 card set loaded with a lot of my old classmates. There's some great names here including the first cards of Lou Holtz, Raghib (Rocket) Ismail, Chris Zorich, Michael Stonebreaker, Tony Rice, Reggie Ho, George Williams, Stan Smagala, Todd Lyght, Anthony Johnson, Tony Brooks, Pat Terrell, Ned Bolcar, etc. Before I start doing too much research, there is only one deceased that I know of so far, Jeff Alm. This set would have been so easy to complete when I was there (except for the Seniors in 88, as I didn't enroll until 1989), but I really wasn't in to sports graphs when I was there. This is the last Notre Dame football team to win the National Championship and will probably be the last for at least the foreseable future. Some of these guys enjoyed a NFL career, but most of them got their education and moved into other professions. We got a new Alumni directory about 3 weeks ago, so I should have fresh addresses for everyone to help me in my endeavor.

GO IRISH!!!

image

Wow, this team was stacked,

The following is a list of Notre Dame players that would go on to play or be drafted to play in the National Football League over the next four years. All players listed played for the 1988 team. (borrowed from wikipedia)

Name Year Team Round Pick
Jeff Alm 1990 Houston Oilers 2 41
Ned Bolcar 1990 Seattle Seahawks 6 146
Mike Brennan 1990 Cincinnati Bengals 4 91
Tony Brooks 1992 Philadelphia Eagles 4 92
Dean Brown 1990 Indianapolis Colts 12 316
Derek Brown 1992 New York Giants 1 14
Rodney Culver 1992 Indianapolis Colts 4 85
Bob Dahl 1991 Cincinnati Bengals 3 72
D'Juan Francisco 1990 Washington Redskins 10 262
Mark Green 1989 Chicago Bears 5 130
Tim Grunhard 1990 Kansas City Chiefs 2 40
Andy Heck 1989 Seattle Seahawks 1 15
Mike Heldt 1991 San Diego Chargers 10 257
Raghib Ismail 1991 Los Angeles Raiders 4 100
Anthony Johnson 1990 Indianapolis Colts 2 36
Andre Jones 1991 Pittsburgh Steelers 7 185
Scott Kowalkowski 1991 Philadelphia Eagles 8 216
Todd Lyght 1991 Los Angeles Rams 1 5
Gene McGuire 1992 New Orleans Saints 4 95
Wes Pritchett 1989 Miami Dolphins 6 147
Rod Smith 1992 New England Patriots 2 35
Frank Stams 1989 Los Angeles Rams 2 45
Mike Stonebreaker 1991 Chicago Bears
George Streeter 1989 Chicago Bears 11 304
Pat Terrell 1990 Los Angeles Rams 2 49
Ricky Watters 1991 San Francisco 49ers 2 45
George Williams 1992 Cleveland Browns 6 163
Chris Zorich 1991 Chicago Bears 2 49
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Comments

  • thenavarrothenavarro Posts: 7,481 ✭✭✭
    This project began yesterday. I wrote 57 letters and 114 envelopes and finally wrapped that part up a short time ago. Dropped all 57 off at the post office. There were 60 cards in the set, but I was unable to find the following 2 in my directory or elsewhere (Alm would be the remaining card) , so if you have any current addresses for these 2, I'd appreciate any help you could give:

    Andre Jones
    D'Juan Francisco (just sent him an email requesting permission to send a card)

    These are the ones that I sent out today:

    Father Edward "Monk" Malloy (President Emeritus of the University of Notre Dame, was President during the Championship season)
    Raghib "Rocket" Ismail
    Darrell "Flash" Gordon
    Steve Belles
    Ricky Watters
    Frank Jacobs
    Kent Graham
    Arnold Ale
    Lou Holtz
    Pat Eilers
    Anthony Johnson
    Andy Heck
    Mark Green
    Ned Bolcar
    George Williams
    Billy Hackett
    Kevin McShane
    Bryan Flannery
    Derek Brown
    Aaron Robb
    Winston Sandri
    Todd Lyght
    Tony Brooks
    Ryan Mihalko
    Donn Grimm
    George Streeter
    Scott Kowalkowski
    Chuck Killian
    Tim Grunhard
    Wes Pritchett
    Tim Ryan
    Frank Stams
    Mike Heldt
    Stan Smagala
    Kurt Zackrison
    Michael Crounse
    Jim Sexton
    Joe Allen
    Corny Southall
    Pete Graham
    David Jandric
    Michael Stonebreaker
    Joe Jurosz
    Pat Terrell
    Reggie Ho
    Steve Roddy
    Tony Rice
    Tom Gorman
    Dean Brown
    Rod West
    Marty Lippincott
    Mike Brennan
    Chris Zorich
    Steve Alaniz
    Braxston Banks
    Ted Healy
    Ted Fitzgerald

    I'll be on vacation out of state from December 18 to about December 29, so hopefully when I return, I'll have several back waiting on me at the post office. I bet most of these guys haven't had an autograph request in quite some time if ever once they left the school, so it will be interesting to see the replies and turnaround times.

    GO IRISH!!

    Mike


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  • thenavarrothenavarro Posts: 7,481 ✭✭✭
    Since Alm has died, I wanted to make sure I have an example of him, so I bought this one to use as a filler.

    1990 Topps Jeff Alm

    image
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  • Good luck Mike!

    I thought Aaron Taylor would be on that list but I guess he was there later on.
  • Good luck-I have been a N.D fan for many years,lived 30 miles from N.D.I remember Zorich,Rocket, and Waters.

    later
    Jeff
    set needs
    03/04 & 05/06 topps black
    72-77 topps baseball raw
    72-75 topps football raw
    any years santo,williams,banks,
    payton,butkus,sayers,piccalo,ditka,hampton
    wantlist

    good transactions katscards,swartz1,packman,Salinas
  • thenavarrothenavarro Posts: 7,481 ✭✭✭


    << <i>Good luck Mike!

    I thought Aaron Taylor would be on that list but I guess he was there later on. >>



    If I remember correctly, Aaron was a Freshman when I was a Sophomore, so I think he started in 1990. He was a BIG dude.
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  • lanemyer85lanemyer85 Posts: 1,126 ✭✭
    yep Aaron Taylor's ND career ran from 90-93. Good luck!
  • thenavarrothenavarro Posts: 7,481 ✭✭✭
    Just got back from Orlando and had a whole stack of mail waiting on me. Included were 15 returns from this project. What a nice start, I also got some emails and letters from some of them as well as the cards. As a unit, they were one of the greatest college football teams of all time. As individuals, not all of them could go on to the NFL, but all of them shared in the success of this special season of Notre Dame football. I'll add some biographical details later for the returns, but I wanted to get the scans up first.

    Chuck Killian
    image
    Corny Southall
    image
    Derek Brown
    image
    Joe Allen
    image
    Kevin McShane
    image
    Coach Lou Holtz
    image
    Mike Heldt
    image
    Father Monk Malloy (University President in 1988)
    image
    Ned Bolcar
    image
    Pete Graham
    image
    Reggie Ho
    image
    Rod West
    image
    Scott Kowalkowski
    image
    Ted Fitzgerald
    image
    Tom Gorman
    image



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  • EAsportsEAsports Posts: 1,534 ✭✭✭
    Two Ho's?
    My LSU Autographs

    Only an idiot would have a message board signature.
  • gregm13gregm13 Posts: 5,837 ✭✭✭
    Mike,

    Nice returns thus far. I didn't think that Holtz was signing TTM any longer...maybe he signed because your an alumni?

    Rgs,

    Greg M.
    Collecting vintage auto'd fb cards and Dan Marino cards!!

    References:
    Onlychild, Ahmanfan, fabfrank, wufdude, jradke, Reese, Jasp, thenavarro
    E-Bay id: greg_n_meg
  • thenavarrothenavarro Posts: 7,481 ✭✭✭


    << <i>Mike,

    Nice returns thus far. I didn't think that Holtz was signing TTM any longer...maybe he signed because your an alumni?

    Rgs,

    Greg M. >>



    Greg,

    I had heard he wouldn't sign anymore but I sent the cards anyway with a nice, sincere letter talking about some of my experiences at Notre Dame and thanking him for the part he played in some of them. Such as bringing donuts out to the students and chatting with us while we were in line waiting for football tickets. I think that might have helped get past his screener (if he has one). Very quick turnaround.

    Mike
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  • baseballfanbaseballfan Posts: 5,058 ✭✭✭
    great cards mike. i also can't get holtz to sign for my 1990 set.

    boy i loved that team, bolcar, stonebreaker, stams, zorich, terrell- i have the bowl game on tape somewhere, i used to watch it every year or so after holtz left. and my favorite Anthony Johnson i have his rookie signed in the ND uniform, like your alm, i'll never get rid of that card. whould be cool to watch you build this.

    well at least for a couple of minutes this morning i got to think about a notre dame team. thanks
    Fred

    collecting RAW topps baseball cards 1952 Highs to 1972. looking for collector grade (somewhere between psa 4-7 condition). let me know what you have, i'll take it, i want to finish sets, i must have something you can use for trade.

    looking for topps 71-72 hi's-69-62-53-54-55-56-57, i have these sets started

  • DboneesqDboneesq Posts: 18,035 ✭✭
    Very nice returns Mike ... looking forward to seeing the rest when they come in.

    How did your family like Disney? We have a place in Celebration, FL (right next to Disney) and have been to Disney quite often. My girls LOVE IT!

    HAPPY and HEALTHY NEW YEAR!
    STAY HEALTHY!

    Doug

    It was tough having to sell almost my entire collection of ~1,700 PSA graded cards from the 1910s - 1970's and my ~250 - 300 Graded Packs from the 50s, 60s and 70s. But when your daughter AND your wife are diagnosed with Cancer, sometimes you don't have a choice. One day I'll get some of them back!
  • AllenAllen Posts: 7,082 ✭✭✭
    I never knew the story about Jeff Alm until just now. That is very tragic and crazy.
  • thenavarrothenavarro Posts: 7,481 ✭✭✭
    Added 4 more today, now I'm up to 19 total and 33% of the ones I sent out already. Also got a really cool email from one of the players that apologized for not sending them back yet, but said he wanted to show his family the cards over the holidays and would send them back soon.

    Steve Alaniz

    image

    Stan Smagala

    image

    Tony Brooks

    image

    Kurt Zackrison

    image
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  • ndleondleo Posts: 2,715 ✭✭✭
    Didn't Rodney Culver pass away in a Valuejet air crash?
    Mike
  • thenavarrothenavarro Posts: 7,481 ✭✭✭


    << <i>Didn't Rodney Culver pass away in a Valuejet air crash? >>



    Yes, it was over the Florida Everglades. Culver was on the team, but he wasn't in the card set.

    Mike
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  • baseballfanbaseballfan Posts: 5,058 ✭✭✭
    great Stan!!!!


    what a great set and project
    Fred

    collecting RAW topps baseball cards 1952 Highs to 1972. looking for collector grade (somewhere between psa 4-7 condition). let me know what you have, i'll take it, i want to finish sets, i must have something you can use for trade.

    looking for topps 71-72 hi's-69-62-53-54-55-56-57, i have these sets started

  • thenavarrothenavarro Posts: 7,481 ✭✭✭
    Got another one today. All-American LB, Wes Pritchett:

    image
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  • thenavarrothenavarro Posts: 7,481 ✭✭✭
    Got one today. Punter Jim Sexton. Sig is hard to see due to the pen he chose, so I scanned it a bit larger.

    image
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  • thenavarrothenavarro Posts: 7,481 ✭✭✭
    Added Donn Grimm today:

    image
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  • thenavarrothenavarro Posts: 7,481 ✭✭✭
    A nice day of returns.

    Anthony Johnson

    image

    Ted Healy

    image

    Aaron Robb

    image
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  • DboneesqDboneesq Posts: 18,035 ✭✭
    WTG Mike ... ALWAYS nice getting back 3 cards from one set!
    STAY HEALTHY!

    Doug

    It was tough having to sell almost my entire collection of ~1,700 PSA graded cards from the 1910s - 1970's and my ~250 - 300 Graded Packs from the 50s, 60s and 70s. But when your daughter AND your wife are diagnosed with Cancer, sometimes you don't have a choice. One day I'll get some of them back!
  • thenavarrothenavarro Posts: 7,481 ✭✭✭
    Added a couple of nice ones today:

    Braxston Banks

    image

    Billy Hackett

    image
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  • baseballfanbaseballfan Posts: 5,058 ✭✭✭
    great Anthony Johnson s!!!!!!!!
    Fred

    collecting RAW topps baseball cards 1952 Highs to 1972. looking for collector grade (somewhere between psa 4-7 condition). let me know what you have, i'll take it, i want to finish sets, i must have something you can use for trade.

    looking for topps 71-72 hi's-69-62-53-54-55-56-57, i have these sets started

  • thenavarrothenavarro Posts: 7,481 ✭✭✭
    Almost halfway there now. Added Steve Belles today. Only 22 mailing days have passed since I started and I'm close to 50% completion. I'm sure I'll have to remail some of the ones that haven't come back yet though.

    image
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  • thenavarrothenavarro Posts: 7,481 ✭✭✭
    Added Ryan Mihalko today. Now over 50% of the ones I sent, I've got back. I'll probably give it another 30 days or so and then resend to the ones that haven't returned by then.

    image
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  • thenavarrothenavarro Posts: 7,481 ✭✭✭
    Added a nice one today. One of 3 players from that squad that was drafted in the first round of the draft,

    Andy Heck

    image
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  • DboneesqDboneesq Posts: 18,035 ✭✭
    WTG MIKE ... that set is coming along very well.
    STAY HEALTHY!

    Doug

    It was tough having to sell almost my entire collection of ~1,700 PSA graded cards from the 1910s - 1970's and my ~250 - 300 Graded Packs from the 50s, 60s and 70s. But when your daughter AND your wife are diagnosed with Cancer, sometimes you don't have a choice. One day I'll get some of them back!
  • gregm13gregm13 Posts: 5,837 ✭✭✭
    Great job Mike...love the set!

    Greg M.
    Collecting vintage auto'd fb cards and Dan Marino cards!!

    References:
    Onlychild, Ahmanfan, fabfrank, wufdude, jradke, Reese, Jasp, thenavarro
    E-Bay id: greg_n_meg
  • thenavarrothenavarro Posts: 7,481 ✭✭✭
    Got this one back today. Frank must have felt compelled to keep one of the cards I sent him. So far, out of 31 returns, he is the only one that's done that. He was the defensive MVP for the National Championship game against West Virginia and enjoyed a 7 year NFL career.

    Frank Stams

    image
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  • gregm13gregm13 Posts: 5,837 ✭✭✭
    Another nice addition Mike. How many of the ex-players do you still need addresses for?

    Rgs,

    Greg M.
    Collecting vintage auto'd fb cards and Dan Marino cards!!

    References:
    Onlychild, Ahmanfan, fabfrank, wufdude, jradke, Reese, Jasp, thenavarro
    E-Bay id: greg_n_meg
  • thenavarrothenavarro Posts: 7,481 ✭✭✭


    << <i>Another nice addition Mike. How many of the ex-players do you still need addresses for?

    Rgs,

    Greg M. >>



    I think the only address I still need is D'Juan Francisco. I sent him an email as that was the only thing listed in my directory but he didn't respond.

    Mike
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  • thenavarrothenavarro Posts: 7,481 ✭✭✭
    Got two more nice ones today, brings my total up to 33 different returns so far:

    David Jandric

    image

    Joe Jarosz

    image
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  • thenavarrothenavarro Posts: 7,481 ✭✭✭
    Got a nice one today in the mail. Mark was one of 3 captains for the 1988 squad. I've now got all 3 captains back, Ned Bolcar, Andy Heck, and Mark.

    Mark Green

    image
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  • thenavarrothenavarro Posts: 7,481 ✭✭✭
    Got a very nice return today. Tim signed one of the two cards that I sent him, but was kind enough to return the other. He had one of the most succesful NFL careers of any of the players on the 88 squad. If I remember correctly, he was also a brilliant student while at Notre Dame. An all around very impressive person.

    Tim Grunhard

    image
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  • thenavarrothenavarro Posts: 7,481 ✭✭✭
    It's been a while since a return, but got a great one today. With the help of a friend of a friend, this one was added. Tony was the QB, and catalyst for a lot of great things that year. He even had a couple Sports Illustrated covers. Interestingly enough, according to Wikipedia (which might or might not be right) 21 of the 22 regular Irish starters that year played in the NFL. The only one that didn't, ironically, was Tony Rice. Simply a great college option QB, which is not a skillset desired by the NFL. Although Tony had the will to win, he did not get to the NFL although he did play for the CFL and World Football League. No collection of 1988 Notre Dame, would be complete without him.

    Tony Rice

    image
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  • gregm13gregm13 Posts: 5,837 ✭✭✭
    Mike,

    Nice addition with Tony Rice! I'm getting ready to send off several cards to Tony Rice for my 1990 Notre Dame set.

    Rgs,

    Greg M.
    Collecting vintage auto'd fb cards and Dan Marino cards!!

    References:
    Onlychild, Ahmanfan, fabfrank, wufdude, jradke, Reese, Jasp, thenavarro
    E-Bay id: greg_n_meg
  • thenavarrothenavarro Posts: 7,481 ✭✭✭
    It's been about a month and a half since my last return, and I've received two returns the past two days. First up is Kent Graham. Graham was the backup QB, whose game was more suited to drop back passing then the option style that Holtz utilized, and that Tony Rice ran so well. Graham ended up transferring to Ohio State, and then had a lengthy career in the NFL. Kent signed and sent back one of the two cards that I sent him.

    Kent Graham

    image
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  • << <i>It's been about a month and a half since my last return, and I've received two returns the past two days. First up is Kent Graham. Graham was the backup QB, whose game was more suited to drop back passing then the option style that Holtz utilized, and that Tony Rice ran so well. Graham ended up transferring to Ohio State, and then had a lengthy career in the NFL. Kent signed and sent back one of the two cards that I sent him.

    Kent Graham

    image >>



    Had no idea he started his career at ND. He did bounce around the NFL forever, like you said. He probably kept the other card b/c he'd never seen it before. Can't entirely say I wouldn't have done the same thing.
  • thenavarrothenavarro Posts: 7,481 ✭✭✭
    Got this one yesterday. I sent Marty two cards and he signed the back of one and returned it. I have 38 of them now. Slowly but surely. I also bought 3 more unsigned sets that I'm going to start sending again to the players that haven't returned yet. Some of them may have been excited to see themselves on a card so they just kept them, and a couple probably got lost in mail as they are just in everyone's favorite plain white envelopes. I'll try at least one more time.

    Marty Lippincott

    image
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  • thenavarrothenavarro Posts: 7,481 ✭✭✭
    Got a cool return today. It's not my cards yet, but it confirmed what I thought about perhaps some of them either keeping or showing off their cards. I'm going to go ahead and mail Steve a few of his cards as well for him to keep and share with his family.

    image

    image
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  • DboneesqDboneesq Posts: 18,035 ✭✭
    Mike,

    THAT was a kewl letter. That's what I like about TTMs the most. I always personalize the letter to the athlete and sometimes they send me back nice letters like the one you received. Enjoy the ND quest!
    STAY HEALTHY!

    Doug

    It was tough having to sell almost my entire collection of ~1,700 PSA graded cards from the 1910s - 1970's and my ~250 - 300 Graded Packs from the 50s, 60s and 70s. But when your daughter AND your wife are diagnosed with Cancer, sometimes you don't have a choice. One day I'll get some of them back!
  • thenavarrothenavarro Posts: 7,481 ✭✭✭
    Got an awesome success today. Ricky Watters. This guy had immense talent and was great fun to watch and was a cool guy. I've got a photo of him and I from 1989 around here somewhere as well but I can't find it. Ricky thought he could break open EVERY play for a TD. I think Coach Holtz would get so mad at him sometimes because he'd field punts and then proceed to dodge tackles for 30 seconds and it would be anywhere from a large gain to a 20 yard loss image Ricky had a pretty succesful NFL career as well.

    Ricky Watters

    image
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  • gregm13gregm13 Posts: 5,837 ✭✭✭
    Mike,

    Another great addition. Which 11 players do you still need? Did you every find an address for the one player that you still needed?

    Rgs,

    Greg M.
    Collecting vintage auto'd fb cards and Dan Marino cards!!

    References:
    Onlychild, Ahmanfan, fabfrank, wufdude, jradke, Reese, Jasp, thenavarro
    E-Bay id: greg_n_meg
  • thenavarrothenavarro Posts: 7,481 ✭✭✭
    Greg,

    I still need 20 more:

    Andre Jones
    Arnold Ale
    Bryan Flannery
    Chris Zorich
    Darrell "Flash" Gordon
    Dean Brown
    D'Juan Francisco
    Frank Jacobs
    George Streeter
    George Williams
    Michael Crounse
    Michael Stonebreaker
    Mike Brennan
    Pat Eilers
    Pat Terrell
    Raghib "Rocket" Ismail
    Steve Roddy
    Tim Ryan
    Todd Lyght
    Winston Sandri

    The only one that I don't have an address for is D'Juan Francisco, but I think he still works for the alumni association. I just haven't gotten around to sending one up there. Rocket lives relatively close to me and he used to do radio shows, appearances etc, quite frequently, so I'll catch him eventually. I'm sure a few more will come through for me from my first batch, and I bet I get some from a 2nd mailing that I need to do.

    Mike
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  • Go Irish, that is a great auto set
  • thenavarrothenavarro Posts: 7,481 ✭✭✭
    Got another one back today. 40 down, 19 to go. Tim signed one of the two cards I sent him and kept the other.

    Tim Ryan

    image
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  • thenavarrothenavarro Posts: 7,481 ✭✭✭
    And the beat goes on image

    I emailed Frank and Darrell a couple weeks ago and asked for their permission to send a couple cards to be autographed and they replied affirmatively with their address. Both came back today. Thanks guys!!

    Frank Jacobs

    image

    Darrell "Flash" Gordon

    image

    17 more to go!!! I'll have to send out a few more emails asking permission.
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  • thenavarrothenavarro Posts: 7,481 ✭✭✭
    Fantastic addition today. This guy would put a serious hit on people. I traded my extra Ricky Watters to a friend on SCN who is also working on the set for this Stonebreaker. Stoney didn't respond to my letter or email, but my friend bought some of his coffee (Stoney either owns or works for New Orleans Brew) and spoke with him on the phone and was able to get 2 signed cards from him.

    43 down, 16 more to go. Now it's getting fun trying to find some of them. One small step at a time and eventually I'll be there.

    image
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  • thenavarrothenavarro Posts: 7,481 ✭✭✭
    I was browsing ebay and happend to run across a piece that I wanted to add for my 1988 Notre Dame collection. This is a Notre Dame vs. Miami ticket stub from a monumental game in Notre Dame history. Rather than try to set the plate for the game myself, I'll let the following article from SI do the job. I've never had a ticket slabbed by PSA, but I'll probably have this one slabbed just for display for my collection:

    image

    Here's an article from SI concerning the game:

    "October 24, 1988
    Pluck Of The Irish
    Spunky Notre Dame laid claim to the top spot in the national rankings by outlasting No. 1 Miami 31-30
    Rick Telander

    Do you want to call this good triumphing over Evil? Did Notre Dame's 31-30 defeat on Saturday of previously unbeaten and No. 1-ranked Miami remind you of Milton's archangels whupping up on Beelzebub and the crew from Chaos?

    Well, O.K., winning by one point while getting outgained 481 yards to 331 isn't exactly the way Michael handled the devil, but you catch the drift. Did you fall for those signs and T-shirts that sprouted in South Bend during game week comparing Notre Dame to the Sistine Chapel and the University of Miami to the River Styx house of detention? If you did, then you probably feel now that all is right with the world and that God is in his place.

    But if you happen to be a Hurricane fan, you might argue that Miami was jobbed out of a fourth-quarter touchdown—or, at least, possession of the ball at the Notre Dame one-foot line—when the officials ruled that Miami fullback Cleveland Gary wasn't down before he fumbled the ball as he tried to extend it across the goal line. Or you could contend that Hurricane coach Jimmy Johnson didn't have to go for a two-point conversion after wide receiver Andre Brown made a brilliant catch of an 11-yard TD pass with 45 seconds left in the game to make the score 31-30. Miami could have just accepted a tie, the way Notre Dame did against Michigan State in their famous battle of undefeateds in 1966.

    And, you could insist, the Irish upset would not have occurred if Notre Dame defensive tackle Jeff Aim wasn't 6'7" and hadn't batted down one of Hurricane quarterback Steve Walsh's passes and intercepted another just by extending his damn arms. And who knows how bad the Hurricanes might have thrashed Notre Dame if they hadn't made seven turnovers—three interceptions, one of which was returned 60 yards for a TD by free safety Pat Terrell, and four fumbles, two of which were recovered by Irish nosetackle Chris Zorich, the human groundhog.

    Yeah, you could argue about a lot of things, particularly the Good versus Bad stuff, but you couldn't change the fact that this was Notre Dame's day. The setting was so gorgeously old-fashioned—sunshine, real grass, primitive end-zone chalkings, Irish players in name-free jerseys and black shoes—that even Touchdown Jesus, the mural on the university library overlooking Notre Dame Stadium, seemed to be raising his arms a little higher in blessing over coach Lou Holtz's boys.

    "The afternoon was absolutely perfect," said Notre Dame defensive end Frank Stams (one tackle for a loss, two fumbles caused and one fumble recovery), celebrating in the locker room after the game. "This is what college football is all about."

    The Irish scored first on junior quarterback Tony Rice's first-quarter seven-yard option keeper, on which he waltzed into the end zone unscathed. Rice, who's listed at 6'1" and 198 pounds but who looks much smaller, took a pounding on most of his other carries (21 rushes for a net of 20 yards), but he remained upbeat throughout the game. "The glass isn't half empty for Tony," said flanker Ricky Watters afterward. "It's always half full."

    In between the beatings, the occasionally scatter-armed Rice even completed eight of 16 passes for a career-high 195 yards. Included in that number was a rainmaking 57-yard, second-quarter bomb to wide receiver Raghib ("Call me Rocket if you can't say Raghib") Ismail, which traveled almost 70 yards in the air. Said the smiling Rice in the locker room, "Never say bad things about a little guy, because the little guy will fool you." Meaning himself.

    Miami scored seven minutes after Rice's touchdown on an eight-yard pass from Walsh to Brown. The Irish then went ahead 21-7 on a short scoring pass from Rice to fullback Braxston Banks and Terrell's return of that tipped Walsh pass. Not the swiftest or gainliest of athletes, Walsh nevertheless chased Terrell to the bitter end, diving and cutting his chin in a futile attempt at a tackle near the goal line.

    A normal team might have folded at that point. The crowd was wacky, the enemy was fired up, and Miami's quarterback was bleeding; you could almost hear Rockne and the Gipper cackling from on high. But the Hurricanes, who had whipped Notre Dame in the schools' last four meetings by a combined score of 133-20 and who were unbeaten in 36 straight regular-season games, are not a normal team. They are a testy street gang that has transformed itself into the high-wire act of college football—the Miami Pound Machine, a club that can score from anywhere at any time, a traveling bomb squad that four weeks earlier had trailed 30-14 at Michigan with less than six minutes left in the game and won 31-30, using just one timeout. And Walsh, the gunner, is a man who is ultracool under pressure.




    In the final minutes of the second quarter Walsh threw a 23-yard TD pass to halfback Leonard Conley. Then he mounted a 54-yard drive in just 48 seconds, capping it with a 15-yard touchdown strike to Gary, whose 11 catches for 130 yards set a Miami single-game reception record for running backs. The teams ran off at halftime tied 21-21, and the general feeling of the stunned Golden Dome fans was Heaven help us, Miami is possessed by the devil.

    Earlier in the week Walsh, who would complete 31 of 50 passes for a career-high 424 yards and four touchdowns against the Irish, suggested that the Miami air attack is so sophisticated that nobody can stop it. "If I get the time, there's always somebody open," he said, adding that this is why he has not allowed himself to be sacked this year. "I'd rather throw the ball away than get sacked. An incompletion? Big deal. If it's third-and-eight, third-and-10, we'll get that. We have entire third-and-long scrimmages. We're so used to it, it's nothing."

    His three interceptions and two fumbles were his undoing, however, and almost undid any chance that the Hurricanes would win their second consecutive national title. The long-armed Aim quashed one third-quarter Miami drive, and the hard-working Stams twice looped in from Walsh's blind side to jar the ball from his clutches. "He seemed real comfortable back there," said Stams with a shrug, knotting his tie and listening to the wild Irish fans outside the locker room. "He seemed to think he had more time than he did. Yes, I think I'll party tonight."

    Long before the game Miami coach Johnson knew that his time of dominating the Irish was coming to a close. People kept harking back to the 1985 game, in which Miami wiped out Notre Dame 58-7, a contest Irish fans said branded Johnson with the mortal sin of running up the score. Whatever the truth of that charge, the rout was a firm shove out the door for departing Irish coach Gerry Faust, a man who, at the time, was almost certainly the worst tactical coach in the country. In his five years at Notre Dame, Faust was so overmatched that he made the faithful tremble in fear over the prospect of facing the likes of Air Force. The fidgety, driven, inspirational Holtz followed Faust and after 2½ years has the Irish back where they belong, in the ozone.

    "They say we're fast, but look at these times," said Johnson after Thursday's practice, holding up a Notre Dame football guide to a page listing the players with the fastest times in the 40-yard dash. "They've got four guys under 4.4. The only guy we have under that is Randal Hill."

    Johnson flipped through the pages and then said, "Sixteen of their starters were high school All-Americas. Four were honorable mention. They have quarterbacks backing up Rice who were All-World. And we've got guys like Russell Maryland starting, guys who weren't even offered scholarships. Poor old Notre Dame."

    Needless to say, the poor, old, ever-feisty Johnson isn't well-liked in South Bend. One T-shirt popular on the Notre Dame campus was emblazoned TOP TEN REASONS TO HATE MIAMI. It listed reason No. 10 as THEY THINK 'LEAVE IT TO BEAVER' IS A METHOD FOR GETTING 'HOMEWORK DONE, and No. 1 as simply JIMMY JOHNSON.

    Bear in mind that Notre Dame students, a generally restless, brainy and athletic group of wise guys (and not a few wise gals), rise like fish to meal when it comes to slogan-painting and hero-bashing. They jumped all over the Hurricanes and their lingering reputation as a band of outlaws, CAN YOU READ THIS? MIAMI CAN'T said a banner high up on Flanner Tower. Another hot-selling T-shirt read YOU CAN'T SPELL SCUM WITHOUT U.M. Another: CATHOLICS VS. CONVICTS. There were others as well that crossed the line into bad taste—for instance, one with a drawing of Johnson as the devil above the words JIMMY JOHNSON PORK FACE SATAN.

    The hate-Miami atmosphere had become so volatile that Notre Dame administrators declared the pregame days to be Spirit Week, a sort of rah-rah alternative to overt meanness. Holtz wrote an open letter to the student body, published on Oct. 6 in The Observer, the campus newspaper, asking students to behave themselves during game week. The Irish tri-captains, Mark Green, Ned Bolcar and Andy Heck, also wrote a letter to the paper, asking students to support the team "in a positive manner."

    But what the heck, it wasn't like the Notre Dame kids were going to steal Miami's gold jewelry or something. They were just getting excited about the fact that Notre Dame, which was ranked No. 5, was going to play a top-ranked team in South Bend for the first time in 20 years. "As far as hatred goes: Hey, God hates things, too," summed up Observer news editor Mark McLaughlin in his column.




    In the second half, what Johnson hated was the sight of Irish freshman tight end Derek Brown catching two passes for 46 yards, which helped Notre Dame sustain time-eating drives. A 6'7", 235-pound bruiser who can run like a deer, Brown is from Merritt Island, Fla.—'Cane country—and Johnson had recruited him like crazy, knowing what Brown would be able to do in Miami's offensive system. But Brown visited Notre Dame in the dead of winter and, miracle of miracles, fell under the Irish spell.

    "I came here on a gut feeling," he said after the game. "I couldn't believe it, either." And what could he tell the disappointed fans in south Florida? "I'd just like to say, 'Well, I made the right choice.' "

    With speedsters like Brown, Rice, Watters, Ismail and running back Tony Brooks, Notre Dame is no longer a lead-footed team. Miami found that out in the third quarter as the Irish pulled ahead 31-21 on a TD and a field goal set up by a couple of big passes from Rice and crafty running by Brooks.

    But then it was Miami prime time. Everybody had the same thought: Could this team possibly roar back in the fourth quarter the way it had earlier this year in that game against Michigan in Ann Arbor, or the way it had last year against Florida State, when it had scored three times in just 4:57 to win 26-25? It would take faith. But as Walsh said before the game, "Notre Dame hasn't cornered the market on Catholic football players." Walsh is Catholic, as are the Big Three who preceded him at quarterback, Jim Kelly, Bernie Kosar and Vinny Testaverde. All Miami's starting offensive linemen, including tight end Rob Chudzinski, are Catholics too.

    The southern Catholics came back against the Midwestern Catholics. Miami scored on a field goal and then on the Walsh-to-Brown touchdown pass with 45 seconds left. Everything—or, at least, an Orange Bowl berth and the national championship—may have been hanging on the two-point conversion attempt. Johnson never considered playing for a tie. "We always play to win," he declared solemnly afterward.

    But Walsh's floating pass intended for Conley was batted down in the end zone by Terrell, and Notre Dame won its sixth game in row. In the locker room where Bertelli, Lujack and Huarte used to dress, Rice smiled with pure satisfaction. Critics have questioned whether an option-type quarterback—a black kid from the Deep South, for goodness' sake—is suited to lead this hallowed institution on the gridiron. Well, after the Miami game, Rice's suitability is no longer in doubt.

    Before the game, in the tunnel under the stadium, a fair-sized dust-up had broken out between Notre Dame and Miami players, and somebody had grabbed Rice's face mask and tried to punch him. "It was number 18," said Rice after the game. That would be Miami backup wide receiver Pee Wee Smith. Gee, has anybody ever been hurt by a guy named Pee Wee?

    Rice laughed. It was no big deal. One time during the game he had come to the sideline and wiped off "a big gob of spit on my forehead." That was no big deal, either.

    What is a big deal is that Rice now fits in at Notre Dame, both on the field and in the classroom. A former Proposition 48 casualty, Rice is pleased to announce that he got an A-minus and a B on two recent psychology midterms. How has he turned things around?

    "They have so many people helping you here—how can you fail?" he replies. "Unless you don't want it. I want it."




    Well then, welcome back, Notre Dame."

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