Category Archives: Mack Lee Hill
I have long had an interest in the handful of players who passed away as members of AFL teams. There were a surprising number of them – Howard Glenn, Ralph Anderson, Bob Laraba, Stone Johnson, Mack Lee Hill, Bob Kalsu and Frank Buncom. As players they made various contributions to their teams, yet none had the opportunity to reach their full potential, as their lives were cut short in one fashion or another.
When I paired down my collection of AFL memorabilia, I kept those things that gave me the most enjoyment. Autographed trading cards were at the top of that list. But falling in somewhere slightly below were AFL-related postcards. While I don’t consider myself an expert when it comes to this branch of collectable, I have learned a bit in my years of collecting. Stadium views are by far the most common theme found in AFL postcards, with individual player and team photo cards being much more difficult to find.
One of the recent phenomena of eBay are the multitude of newspaper and magazine photo archives that have been slowly broken up and sold over the online auction site. Collectors can find original and wire service prints of nearly every subject imaginable, from royal families to war criminals, sports figures to new automobiles, and everything in-between.
AFL fans can be satiated by these offerings as well; excellent photos from even the earliest days of the AFL are often available, and typically sell at very reasonable prices. Over the past few months, photo negatives have been listed as well, and right now there are more than 100 listings for Boston/New England Patriots negatives from the 1960s and early 1970s.
I have written in the past about the most difficult-to-find autographed AFL cards of the 1960s. The 1964 Dick Christy and 1968 Frank Buncom are exceptionally challenging due to the fact that Buncom and Christy both died shortly after those cards were issued. This past week I was able to obtain another signed AFL card that has an equal or even greater degree of rarity.
In their 1964 football set, Topps issued team cards for each of the AFL franchises. For my signed set I am trying to acquire team cards signed by each of the head coaches that season. I also enjoy picking up additional team cards of favorite players or AFL personalities. Included in my collection are team cards signed by Lance Alworth, Ernie Ladd, Sid Gillman, Al Davis, Hank Stram, Ben Davidson, Sammy Baugh, Cookie Gilchrist, Ralph Wilson and others. My most recent acquisition, however, quickly became the rarest in my collection; it is card #110 in the 1964 Topps set, a Kansas City Chiefs team card that was autographed by Mack Lee Hill.
A couple of weeks ago I posted a story about my favorite Hank Stram image. I like that image because of the sense of joy and achievement that it portrays. I recently found and purchased another Stram wire photo that I also like very much, but for much different reasons. Mack Lee Hill was a promising, young fullback for the Chiefs in 1964 & 1965 before his career was cut short by his unexpected death following knee surgery. This new image shows the depth to which Stram cared for his players, and a vulnerability that is not often associated with professional football.