Monday, September 22, 2014

Vintage Card Of The Month: 1951 Topps Magic Arnold Burwitz

After the University of Arizona-Cal game this weekend I felt it was appropriate to go with this card today. In case you missed it, Cal was up 28-3 at halftime and 31-13 at the end of the 3rd Quarter. Essentially the game was over and the last 15 minutes was junk time but somebody forgot to tell the Wildcats. Arizona scored 5 TDs and 1 FG in the 4th Quarter and the win with the final TD coming on a 47-yard pass from Solomon to Hill as the clock expired. It was actually more like a 62- yard pass considering Solomon threw it from the Arizona 48-yard line and it was caught in the back of the endzone and this was an all air pass, this was not a 5-yard dump off pass and long run by the receiver. This guy has a gun for an arm.


This month’s VCoM comes from the 1951 Topps Magic football release, a college themed set. The cards are a bit smaller than a modern card, maybe about ¾ of the size, and contain a beautifully illustrated image of the player in a staged action shot. The back contains a bio about the player along with a question. The bottom of the back of the card is a scratch off that contains the answer. Unrubbed cards demand a premium over a rubbed card but they are also more condition sensitive.
I picked up this Arnold Burwitz card to add to my University of Arizona collection. It is quite difficult to find Arizona players in vintage sets because the Arizona schools were initially in the Border Conference (1931-1961) and later the WAC (1962-1978) so they didn’t really become nationally prominent until they joined what became the Pac-10 in 1978 and became associated with football powerhouses like USC and UCLA.
The tale of Arnold Burwitz, who was a top class athlete worthy of a professional career, is a tale of tragedy and a learning experience that has definitely been lost on today’s college football players. On September 23, 1951 Burwitz, along with three other players, stole chickens from the school’s farm. In response the school suspended him immediately from the team and two days later expelled him from school. To add insult to literal injury, when a deputy approached the players after they stole the chickens he fired a round in to the ground as a warning shot and a piece of cement ricocheted up hitting Burwitz injuring his leg.
Now we see college players being arrested/charged with physical and sexual assault, theft/robbery/shoplifting, vulgarity and making generally poor choices (such as signing autographs for pay or yelling “F#*k her in the Pu$$y!” in public) and only slapped on the wrist and disciplined with laughable punishments like being suspended for half of a game. You would think that Burwitz was born 65 years too early. His simple theft of a chicken would have been swept under the rug by the schools PR Department and he would have hit the field the following week, possibly doing the Chicken Dance in mockery of his indiscretion.
The card is miss-cut and significantly off-center with a crease along the top right corner but I only paid $7.26 shipped and I couldn’t be happier to add a beautiful card to my University of Arizona collection.


  1. Painful loss this past weekend... but a great post. Very interesting story behind Burwitz (and his awesome hot pink pants).

  2. Great post. You are exactly right that his actions now would have resulted in a slap on the wrist. Too much money being made now to suspend guys.