Saturday, January 9, 2021

Vertically Oriented

Here's a couple of interesting art pieces to kick off the New Year.

These two original artworks were used for the 1969-70 Basketball Ruler inserts. Hal Greer leads things off:

That pencilled "62" indicates his height, as shown on the finished insert:

I may have mislabeled my scans as I thought these came from REA but a search of their site says no.  Oh well, here's our next subject:

Thats's Nate Thurmond, although his head may have been Frankensteined.  Here is the insert in all it's glory, not sure why his height (6' 11'-yikes!) is not shown on the artwork like Greer's:

The Greer's reverse is blank but Thurmond's has some vintage Woody Gelman scrawl:

The Rulers were one of the more innovative Topps inserts of the era. There's 23 in the set with one subject (Bill Russell) pulled to screw up the math leading to 24 since the number of subjects in the set was printed right on each ruler! (UPDATE 1/28/22:  It's probably NOT Russell but instead was meant to be Rudy Larusso!  See my 2/12/22 post for details.)

There were a mere 14 teams in the NBA during the 1969-70 season, so some teams ended up with an additonal subject or two.  Here's the checklist:

1. Walt Bellamy (Detroit Pistons)

2. Jerry West (Los Angeles Lakers)

3. Bailey Howell (Boston Celtics)

4. Elvin Hayes (San Diego Rockets)

5. Not Issued

6. Bob Rule (Seattle Supersonics)

7 Gail Goodrich (Phoenix Suns)

8. Jeff Mullins (San Francisco Warriors)

9. John Havlicek (Boston Celtics)

10. Lew Alcindor (Milwaukee Bucks)

11. Wilt Chamberlain (Los Angeles Lakers)

12. Nate Thurmond (San Francisco Warriors)

13. Hal Greer (Philadelphia 76ers)

14. Lou Hudson (Atlanta Hawks)

15. Jerry Lucas (Cincinnati Royals)

16. Dave Bing (Detroit Pistons)

17. Walt Frazier (New York Knicks)

18. Gus Johnson (Baltimore Bullets)

19. Willis Reed (New York Knicks)

20. Earl Monroe (Baltimore Bullets)

21. Billy Cunningham (Philadelphia 76ers)

22. Wes Unseld (Baltimore Bullets)

23. Bob Boozer (Chcago Bulls)

24. Oscar Robertson (Cincinnati Royals)

Topps maybe could have gone with Lenny Wilkens to represent the second of the Supersonics, although at 6' 1" he would have been the shortest player in the set (which is Greer)  but a guy named Bob Rule was probably too much for them to pass up  In fairness, Rule was a very solid player, a 1969-70 All Star, averaged over 24 points a game that season and was coming off his best campaign as a result:


Eric C. Loy said...

Is Bill Russell under Thurmond's head?

John Bateman said...

The players selection in the ruler set does not match up directly with the 22 players in the test issue.

toppcat said...

1-I don't think that Russell below, they proabbly re-drew the head for Thurmomd, it looks like a different artist may have done that vs. the body art.

2-No, height-driven for sure.

Jonathan Tomberg said...

Does anyone know if there are any pictures of the drafts of the Bill Russell Ruler? Was it ever drawn out or cancelled before they got to that point?

toppcat said...

Yes, and in fact thank you for the reminder. I'll post something on the Russell in February.