I recently found a card that I’ve been searching for on eBay for a long time. If you follow my blog, you know that aside from the Topps project that occupies most of the posts on this blog, I also have an affinity for retro sets. And I like the Goodwin Champions product that Upper Deck puts out each year. I may be in the minority on that. But I particularly like the super-rare set they came out with in 2012, which were hand-painted reproductions of the original 1888 Goodwin Champions cards. There are only 10 of each card made. If I had more means and fewer other card collecting aspirations, I’d have loved to try to put that full set together. As it is, I am going for the 5 boxing cards, the card of Buffalo Bill, and the card I just got this week in the mail – the remake of the first ever football card. Here’s a picture of the original:
The 1888 Goodwin Champions contained the first football card, that of Yale captain Harry Beecher. In 2011 I looked into this card a little bit at first, then found some things worth digging further on. First, I typed in “Yale” and “Beecher” in a couple of search engines and came up with Edward Beecher, who graduated from Yale in 1822 and was the brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe – the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Harriet, Edward and their many other siblings were born much earlier, but it seemed likely that the Beecher on this card who played football at Yale was related to the Beecher family of the pre-Civil War era who haled from Connecticut. I found a number of different websites, but the one with the best summary of what I found is linked here. Apparently Beecher Stowe was this Beecher’s great Aunt, as Henry Beecher’s Grandfather was her brother, Henry Ward Beecher, who was probably the second most famous priest from that era.
I found an even better write-up about Harry Beecher (the football player) himself here. He still holds the Yale record for the most career touchdowns (66) – and he once scored 11 TDs in one game.
I’ve been on the lookout for the Goodwin painted card for well over a year now. It came up for bid when the product first came out and sold for over $300. That was too rich for my blood at the time, though I may have been willing to go that high this time since I haven’t spent nearly as much on cards this year. I got if for less than half of that (but still over $100) when this card came up on eBay two weeks ago. Got it in the mail this week – and I’m happy I got such a great card! Here’s the back – it’s signed by the artist and numbered 7 out of 10.