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The Starr of a collection

Bert Lehman, editor of Sports Collectors Digest, shares why his beat-up 1968 Topps Football card of Bart Starr is one of his favorite cards.

By Bert Lehman

It was a 1978 Topps Football card of Roger Staubach that initially pulled me into the sports trading card hobby. 

My friends and I started down the path of collecting football and baseball cards when we were in grade school. It wasn’t long after that that my brothers gave me a stack of football cards they had accumulated. The majority of the football cards in my collection were from the early 1980s, but the stack of football cards from my brothers contained cards from the 1970s.

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I started looking through the stack of cards to see what I had. There was a 1970 Topps O.J. Simpson – his rookie card. There was a 1972 Topps Joe Namath card, which was actually in decent condition. The Simpson card had rounded corners. There were other cards from the 1970s, and a few from the 1960s in the stack, but the one that caught my eye was a Bart Starr card.

Growing up in Wisconsin, only an hour away from Green Bay, it was impossible not to be familiar with the legend of Bart Starr. My dad was a die-hard Packers fan so I would hear stories about Starr and the glory days of the Green Bay Packers.

With this knowledge, I knew I had something special with the Starr card. At first I didn’t know any information about the card, so I looked for that card design in a price guide and found that it was from the 1968 Topps Football set. The card was beat up so I knew the card wasn’t in Mint condition. In fact, the corners of the card showed a lot of rounding, pieces of the white edges were chipped out, the layers of cardboard were actually peeling away from each other, and there was a heavy crease running through Starr’s face. If you held the card up and fanned it in the air, it would flop like a wet noodle where the crease was.

I didn’t care, though. It was a football card of Bart Starr and it was mine. I took care of that card like it was a Gem Mint card, carefully placing it in a plastic sheet in a binder.

I still have the binder that the card was placed in, but I hadn’t looked through it in years. It was stored in my basement in the same place where my other binders of cards are stored. After I learned of Starr’s death, I immediately thought of that 1968 Topps Football Starr card in my collection. When I grabbed the binder to find the card, I only had to open the cover of the binder: The Starr card was prominently in the first card slot of the first sheet.

The condition of the card didn’t improve any over the years, but it is still one of the most prized football cards in my collection.

Thanks for the memories, Bart.

Bert Lehman is the editor of SCD. He can be reached at bert.lehman@fwmedia.com.

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