Saturday, April 30, 2011

Ray Nitschke's Packer Hall of Fame ring (Class of '78)

Here's an interesting award ring; this was given to Ray Nitschke upon his induction to the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame in 1978.

Heritage Auctions

Note the singular "Packer" — this was before the HoF adopted its current, plural, name.

Heritage Auctions

The ring is 10 karat yellow gold, with a smooth cut green stone.

Heritage Auctions

On one shank is his name and year of induction. On the other shank is a three-helmet design, representing different periods in the team's history.

Heritage Auctions

The same three helmets—1920s brown leather, 1940s painted and padded leather and 1960s plastic—appear on the Hall of Fame logo:

I like this ring. Simple design, very classic. The yellow gold and green stone reflect the Packers' colors well.

I wonder if they still award these to inductees?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Heaven's (North) Gate

The Packers have released a rendering of a proposed North Gate at Lambeau Field. This is part of the stadium upgrade which will see a new sound system for the 2011 season, new video boards in 2012 and an unspecified number of new seats beginning in 2013.

Here's what the stadium looks like now as seen from Lombardi Avenue, or at least what it looked like when the Google Maps camera truck drove by:

Very nice. I continue to marvel at how the Packers managed to preserve the stadium's tradition while supplying the players and fans with a state-of-the-art facility. This is how it ought to be done; Yankee fans look at the renovated Lambeau Field and weep for their lost history.

Friday, April 22, 2011

1965 and 67 World Championship Charms

Continuing with Grey Flannel's current auction, today we have two charms from the collection of former Packers offensive tackle Steve Wright (1964-1967).
Lot #230: Pair of Green Bay Packers Gold Pendants Presented to Steve Wright (2) (Wright LOA)

The football shaped pendant is made of 10k gold and reads "GREEN BAY PACKERS 1965 WORLD CHAMPIONS". An enameled Packers "G" logo appears in the middle along with a small round-cut diamond. The pendant weighs 9 grams and stamped "10K" along with the diamond-shaped Jostens logo on back. The second pendant is in the shape of a single-bar football helmet. The left side of the helmet reads "1ST SUPER BOWL CHAMPIONS 1967" along with the Packers' "G" logo in relief. The right side reads "GREEN BAY PACKERS" and also features the Packers' "G" logo in relief. The pendant weighs 6 grams and the back of the helmet has been engraved with the player number "72". The pendants are in NRMT condition and come with a LOA from Steve Wright.
The pendants appear to be identical to those worn by Cherry Star on her charm bracelet.

The football-shaped charm features a diamond in the center of a green cloissoné "G" logo.

It commemorates the first of Lombardi's three consecutive World Championships, the third of which is reflected in the lot's other item.

The helmet-shaped charm is a recreation of the Packers' famous lids, with an inscription circling Dad Braisher's "G" logo on either side. On the helmet's right, the inscription reads "GREEN BAY PACKERS".

The back of the pendant is engraved with Wright's number 72, straddling the center seam as they did on the real thing.

The other side reads "1ST SUPER BOWL CHAMPIONS 1967".

This is particularly interesting to me, and may reflect some uncertainty about how the game was to be billed. Officially, the first Super Bowl was known as the "First AFL-NFL World Championship Game". No identifying year, no roman number (those would come two years later).

Although played in January of 1967, the game actually decided the championship of the 1966 season. This wasn't the first time the title game straddled New Year's Day; the 1966 NFL title game, (to decide the NFL's representative at that first Super Bowl) was played in Dallas on January 1, 1967, and the preceeding year the Packers and Browns faced off at the 1965 World Championship Game at Lambeau Field on January 2, 1966.

This charm might indicate some confusion in those early years as to how the game was to be billed. Even today there are some who wish the NFL used the split-year "1966-67" format (an opinion which is grossly over-represented on Wikipedia).

Two great pieces from the Lombardi era, reflections of glory long past but never faded.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

1966 Championship Tie Clasp and Cufflinks

Grey Flannel's current auction has some true gems from the dawn of the Super Bowl era. We'll be looking at each lot individually over the next several days, starting with these three items issued to former offensive Tackle Steve Wright.

Championship memorabilia didn't always just come in the form of a ring; wives and mothers received mink stoles, and sometimes team personnel were given branded pieces of jewelry.

Lot #229: 1966 Green Bay Packers Super Bowl I Gold Cuff Links and Tie Clasp Presented to Steve Wright (3) (Wright LOA)

The two football-shaped cuff links measure ¾” x ½" and read "AFL vs. NFL 1ST WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP 1966 LOS ANGELES COLISEUM" across the face. They feature casted images of the facade of the famous Los Angeles Coliseum. The back of the cuff links are stamped "LGB 1/10 10KGF". The interior bar of each cuff link is stamped "PAT 2544893" and "1/20-12KGF". Each cuff link weighs 5 grams and they are both in NRMT condition with light wear. The tie clasp features the same ¾" x ½" casted football that appears on the cuff links. It is attached to a 1½" tie clasp that is stamped "BALFOUR 1/20-12KGF" on back. The tie clasp weighs 9 grams and is in NRMT condition with light wear. Comes with a LOA from Steve Wright.
The design is beautiful, with the Coliseum facade superimposed on the football. Although the game was widely known as the "Super Bowl" even before the opening kickoff, the NFL and AFL thought the nickname lacked the gravitas they required for the Championship game, and so the jewelry is saddled with the rather unfortunate and wordy description.

The tieclip is often identified as the official "press pin" for that first Super Bowl, and is a little more common.

I can see this having been worn in the press box, overlooking the Coliseum's field as the Packers and Chiefs battled it out for pro football's crown. I wasn't aware that these were ever given to players.

Steve Wright played for the Packers from 1964 though 1967. He can be seen at the far-right in this post-game celebratory photo:

After the three-in-a-row World Championships, he spent the next five seasons with four teams: the New York Giants, Washington Redskins, Chicago Bears and St. Louis Cardinals. More from his collection to come.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Good Guys Wear White. Lots of White.

This photo was taken at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on December 8, 1957, as the Packers were completing their customary late-season West Coast swing.

My first thought—well... third, after "Look at all the empty seats!" and "Those photographers are standing waaaay to close to the sideline."—is that those Packers don't look like the Packers at all.

There's no gold to be found anywhere on those uniforms. White head to toe, with blue stripes and numbers.

This road uniform was introduced by head coach Lisle Blackbourn as part of a general uniform overhaul.

If the team didn't look like the Packers, they didn't play much like the Packers we're used to watching, either, falling to the Rams that day 42-17.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

LOMBARDI: The Show Starts in the Lobby

After a few fits and starts, I finally had an opportunity to see LOMBARDI on Broadway.

My parents were in New York for the birth of their granddaughter, and I took my stepfather to see it as a "thank-you" for all the help he's given us. I'll post a full review of the show itself soon, but I wanted to begin with a quick examination of the æsthetics of the theatre itself.

LOMBARDI is playing at the Circle in the Square Theatre on 50th Street between 8th Avenue and Broadway, right in the heart of midtown Manhattan's Theatre District.

The first thing one notices, approaching the building, is the 15-foot poster bearing the granite profile of Saint Vince.

Following the Super Bowl, the show's producers added the gold banner across the poster, proclaiming:
The Legacy Continues. See Where It All Began.
The shout-outs to the Packers continue at the door:

A flight of stairs takes us down to the lobby, decorated in the floor-to-ceiling photographs of past glory.

On one wall hang three game-worn jerseys. From left: Bart Starr; Ray Nitschke; and Jim Taylor.

The Starr and Nitschke jerseys are from the 1970s, es evidenced by the relatively short sleeves, mesh material and silkscreened sleeve stripes.

Nitschke's jersey also features his name across the back. NoBs were added to all NFL jerseys starting in 1970 as a condition of the NFL–AFL Merger.

The Taylor jersey is dated to 1966 and features the heavier durene material of Lombardi's era, as well as three-quarter sleeves and knit stripes.

Durene jerseys were made out of a heavy cotton or cotton/synthetic blend fabric treated with a chemical called durene, in the process making the fabric more durable and able to stand up better to the rigors of game use. It also gave the material its distincive heft and sheen.

Opposite the jerseys we find a display case containing rare gems from the glory days, including a game-worn Lombardi nylon sideline jacket.

They've also borrowed a relic from the Hall of Fame in Canton, a section of the Packers' bench from the last game Lombardi coached at Lambeau Field. December 31, 1967, otherwise known as the "Ice Bowl."

The bench had been "liberated" by Packers fan Bob Kaminski in the post-game scrum as all Northern Wisconsin celebrated their win over the Cowboys. Kaminski donated it to the Hall of Fame eight years later, where it has been on display in the "Enshrinee Mementos Room".

Lots of history on display downstairs at Circle in the Square.

All of this before we even enter the theatre.