A couple of years ago I posted the first part of this analysis of how poorly Topps colourized their classic CFL trading cards. This is the sequel post to assess the Eastern teams from the same time period, however the analysis reveals that Topps actually did a damn fine job for the eastern division and it was in no way the catastrophe that the western division was.
Year by year for 1958, 1959 & 1960 I will compare the card colours with mostly readily available colour images of each team from those seasons and assign a generalized rating number where the player is featured in uniform on the following scale
3 - Accurate representation of the team uniform colours
2 - Mostly Accurate representation of the team uniform colours
1 - Partially Accurate representation of the team uniform colours
0 - Totally Inaccurate representation of the team uniform colours
Cards that show a player out of uniform will not be rated. In some cases I might not have a real colour reference photo to refer to so an educated conclusion will have to suffice. Also keep in mind that uniforms were not 100% standardized in those days, not everybody wore the exact same helmet stripes or socks, players would wear older style jerseys during photo shoots and even sometimes during games, and occasionally teams would wear the opposite of their road/home outfits on a particular night, so this is going to be a "near as can be determined" result.
The scores for these cards per team will then be added up and divided by the number of cards to generate an aggregate average number for each team that will represent just how well or how poorly the Topps card design personnel performed.
1958 Toronto Argonauts
Road Lights (Paul Fedor), Home Top Dark Bottom Light (Dave Mann, Dick Fouts - muddy pants)
There are 11 Toronto Argonaut cards in the 1958 set.
Only 1 player is shown in a complete road uniform photo and the colourization is accurate (the shades of the Argos double blue, light and dark, being somewhat variable depending on lighting). Also the pants may have been white or off-white or a combination of both used by different players during the same season. Rating (3).
The remaining ten cards are all head shots with minimal jersey visible, one coloured white and nine coloured varying shades of dark blue. Rating (3)
1958 Rating : 3 + 30 = 33 / 11 = Average Rating of 3.00
1959 Toronto Argonauts
Road Lights (Jim Rountree), Home Top Dark Bottom Light Khaki? (Dick Shatto, twice)
There are 11 Toronto Argonaut cards in the 1959 set.
All of them are shown in their road uniforms with the white or off-white pants, with one exception where the image is waist up only in the light jersey. Rating (3).
I don't have any colour images of the Argos in road nor home uniforms from 1959 but the 1959 Weekend magazine Dick Shatto illustration shows a decidedly khaki or gold hued pants. It is hard to tell but it looks to me like the 1959 7-UP photo and an image from a 1959 home game might support that the pants worn at home were not the white or off-white pants worn on the road this season.
1959 Rating : 33 / 11 = Average Rating of 3.00
1960 Toronto Argonauts
Road Top Light Bottom Darker (Marty Martinello), Home Top Dark Bottom Lighter (Dick Shatto)
There are 10 Toronto Argonaut cards in the 1960 set.
The Argos started to wear numbered helmets in 1960 and switched to a double blue leg stripe but none of this affected the cards because Topps went back to mostly the head shots this year with six of the cards showing the proper dark blue coloured shoulders, one showing a white jersey shoulders. Rating (3).
Tobin Rote also appears in a head shot that looks like it came from the 1958 NFL Lions photo shoot and the jersey colour is the Detroit Honolulu blue. Rating (2).
The two remaining cards are the same road uniforms used the prior two seasons. Rating (3).
1960 Rating : 21 + 2 + 6 = 29 / 10 = Average Rating of 2.90
TOR 1958 - 1960 95 / 33 = Aggregate Rating of 2.97
1958 Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Road Lights Top Yellow or White (John Barrow from '57 Grey Cup, Bob Dawson),
Home Top Dark Bottom Light (Fran Rogel, Harry Lampmann)
There are 11 Hamilton Tiger-Cats cards in the 1958 set.
Six are full uniform shots with the dark jerseys, 4 are partial uniform shots with the dark jerseys and one is a full uniform shot with the light jersey. All of these images are very accurately colourized with the only quibble being the gold colour should have been a little more yellowish. Not enough of a difference to affect the rating. Rating (3).
1958 Rating : 33 / 11 = Average Rating of 3.00
1959 Hamilton Tiger-Cats (same uniforms as 1958 with Road Top White)
1956 Home Top Dark Bottom Light (Vince Scott, John Fedosoff)
There are 9 Hamilton Tiger-Cats cards in the 1959 set.
Five of the nine cards are the same uniforms (Home) and same colouration as the previous year, so these are all correct. Rating (3). One of these cards is the same uniform but the numbers are a different shade than the rest of the gold. Rating (2).
Then three of the cards inexplicably show the players in their 1956 uniforms, but correctly coloured. Rating (3).
1959 Rating : 15 + 2 + 9 = 26 / 9 = Average Rating of 2.89
1960 Hamilton Tiger-Cats (same uniforms as 1959 with Road Top White, John Barrow)
There are 10 Hamilton Tiger-Cats cards in the 1960 set.
Eight of these cards show the player in the home dark tops uniform and since these had not changed they are all correct. Rating (3).
But Vince Scott is in his home dark top uniform but coloured dark blue instead of black. Another better colourization job is pictured from a same era game program. Rating (1).
One of these cards is a cropped Bernie Faloney again in all yellow so his top is wrong for this season. Rating (1).
1960 Rating : 24 + 1 + 1 = 26 / 10 = Average Rating of 2.60
HAM 1958 - 1960 85 / 30 = Aggregate Rating of 2.83
1958 Ottawa Rough Riders
Home Top Dark Bottom Light (Bobby Judd, Bob Simpson),
Road Top Light Bottom Dark (John Bove, Dave Thelen)
There are 11 Ottawa Rough Riders cards in the 1958 set.
Four players are shown in white jerseys without the shoulders visible. Rating (3).
Two players are shown in white jerseys missing the proper shoulder striping colours. Rating (2).
Four players are shown in full or partial uniforms (some of which are from prior seasons) with the correct coloring (although the red could be darker). Rating (3).
One player has incorrect arm striping colours. Rating (2).
1958 Rating : 12 + 4 + 12 + 2 = 30 / 11 = Average Rating of 2.73
1959 Ottawa Rough Riders
Home Top Dark Bottom Light (Frank Tripucka, Ron Stewart),
Road Top Light Bottom Dark (Jim Reynolds from '60 Grey Cup, Russ Jackson)
There are 10 Ottawa Rough Riders cards in the 1959 set.
Four of the players are in appropriately coloured jerseys with the shoulder stripes (3 Road, 1 Home). Rating (3).
Three of the players are in jerseys cropped so close no striping would be visible. Rating (3).
Three of the players are shown with incorrect shoulder or arm striping. Rating (2).
1959 Rating : 12 + 9 + 6 = 27 / 10 = Average Rating of 2.70
1960 Ottawa Rough Riders
(very similar uniforms to 1959, maybe some sleeve number changes, Ron Stewart, Gary Schreider)
There are 9 Ottawa Rough Riders cards in the 1960 set but George Brancato is cropped so close no jersey is visible so he will not be factored in. As was Topp's custom the card images were mostly just re-used versions of the cards from prior years, so they are mostly correct.
Six of the cards are tight head shots and the minimal jersey showing can be considered correct. Rating (3).
One is Bobby Simpson from a properly colored older uniform style. Rating (3).
One is Kay Vaughn from an improperly stripe coloured older uniform style. Rating (2).
1960 Rating : 18 + 3 + 2 = 23 / 8 = Average Rating of 2.88
OTT 1958 - 1960 80 / 29 = Aggregate Rating of 2.76
1959 Montreal Alouettess
Home Top Dark Bottom Light (Same Etcheverry, Ed Learn),
Road Top Light Bottom Light
There were no Montreal Alouettes cards in the 1958 Topps set.
There are 8 Montreal Alouettes cards in the 1959 set.
All eight players are shown in the team's home uniforms (although some are from earlier seasons with no numbers on the upper arms) and all eight are correctly colourized. Rating (3).
1959 Rating : 24 / 8 = Average Rating of 3.00
1960 Montreal Alouettes
Home & Road same as 1959 except with the winged helmet (none on cards),
(Marv Luster, Jim Copeland)
There are 10 Montreal Alouette cards in the 1960 set.
As you should expect by now all 1960 cards were tighter cropped versions of the same images used earlier, or head shots with minimal jersey showing and a couple of older uniform cards. Again all players are in their home uniforms and all are correctly colourized. Rating (3).
1960 Rating : 30 / 10 = Average Rating of 3.00
MON 1959 - 1960 54 / 18 = Aggregate Rating of 3.00
So to summarize Topp's performance with a ranking out of 3 points ranging from Pretty Decent to Absolute Garbage : (and keep in mind I was just assessing the colour accuracy, the fact they hardly ever got the players in the current uniforms is a different failure altogether).
TOR 2.97 HAM 2.83 OTT 2.76 MON 3.00
A very credible job for the Eastern teams, here were the Western teams scores from the earlier blog post
WPG 2.14 B.C. 1.87 EDM 0.93 SSK 0.00 CAL 0.00
If you were a kid collecting cards in the east, your teams were properly represented.
In the west it could have been OK or it could have been pathetic.
Gridiron Uniform Database - CFL additions
I first did the Topps colourization analysis for the western teams in 2020, and I felt it would enhance the post to show the players in their uniforms in game action to get an idea for what the style was if not the actual colours (same as I did here for the east).
Last year the group responsible for The Gridiron Uniform Database announced their intention to add CFL uniforms to the site on the premiere football memorabilia forum: The Vintage Football Discussion Community. The person that runs the site indicated he "knew next to nothing about the CFL and knew nothing about it's history".
I was asked to comment and suggested that:
"the comments made about not knowing anything about CFL history, to me would indicate that (other than from say the 1980's up, where colour references from actual game play are relatively plentiful) your teams best intentioned efforts would likely be frustratingly inaccurate and prone to a large number of inconsistencies and errors, because unless you are really familiar with the teams and the history and the players, it won't always be possible to tell if a particular image is really related to the team, year, player, road or home uniform in question (even if it is captioned as such). Finding what colour images do exist is not easy, and I would guestimate likely only cover about 30% of what you would need at the absolute most." and "I just don't believe that people with no knowledge of Canadian Football history can accurately untangle the historical puzzle that it presents."
A reasoned and informed opinion I thought, naturally it was derided by a poster whose CFL expertise was evidenced by his statement on "the Montreal Alouettes (whatever those are)" ...
The GUD subsequently launched their CFL section in 2022 and has now expanded from 1945 through to sometime into the seventies. So I compared what they had for the relevant years in the east for 1958, 1959 and 1960 to see how they stacked up to what I was seeing using actual online newspaper images (presumably the same ones they used) and the colour reference material I had available (presumably most of which was not available to them). And my assessment of their results is:
- Did they put in a monumental amount of effort - Yes
- Did they accurately determine the uniform styles game by game (including exhibitions) from newspaper archives - Yes, probably to a high 90's percentage level anyway
- Did they have to make a lot of assumptions on actual uniform colours, and extrapolate those to other years based on minimal source colour reference material that would have been available to them? - Yes, they must have because accessible reference material for each year does not exist
- Can you assume that the colours presented for each team and each year are correct? - I'm afraid not, as I had indicated, if you had zero familiarity with the subject matter and then have to make assumptions, then some of them are going to be wrong.
So just for the years I was looking at here are a couple of example discrepancies I saw:
Left is the GUD entry for 1958 and 1959 Ottawa Road Jerseys
Right closeup of late 50's Ottawa road jersey, shows definitively red, black, red stripes
the numbers have black outlines
The sorts of fine details you see if you have access to a repository of high-res images and can assess what year they were taken, are lost when all you have to go on are blurry low-res newspaper images and you have no frame of reference for any other visual record, because your knowledge of the league is zero.
Left is the GUD entry for the 1960 Grey Cup game Ottawa Jerseys
Right a screen grab from the game, clearly the sleeve numbers are black and
the jersey numbers have black outlines
I'm not trying to denigrate the massive amount of work that was put in by these people to put this together or nitpick one or two issues I discovered. Everybody makes mistakes, me certainly included. I am just stating my opinion, once again that CFL historical information should be compiled and vetted by those that are familiar with the league and have spent a long amount of time and effort to understand its history. That way there will be less errors and less inaccuracies. People will look at this reference and assume that every entry is correct, when that is not the case.
On the other hand perhaps if they had just added a few more resources that had no clue what the Montreal Alouettes were, maybe then it all would have worked out perfectly