I guess I got hooked when I was five years old, and I can only thank my mother for it. I had just lost a tooth and I diligently placed the discarded enamel under my pillow waiting for a huge money score from the tooth fairy when I woke up.
However, the tooth fairy, aka mom, tossed me a curveball. To my surprise there was a pack of baseball cards when I got up. I was entranced. I couldn’t put them down, and from that day on, my mother had created a monster.
As I grew older, I specialized more into collecting basketball cards, but my brother and I pretty much collected everything. And it was only natural as an Iowa State fan that I searched tirelessly for Cyclone athletes gracing “bubble gum” cards.
I don’t claim to own every Cyclone card ever printed, but I probably have most of them. Here is my quick history of Iowa State athletics through my top-five Cyclone bubble gum cards:
1. 1948 Bowman NBA- Price Brookfield: This is my oldest Cyclone card and quite possibly my favorite. The 1948 Bowman set was the first basketball cards ever produced and the first Cyclone to ever play in the NBA was included. Brookfield only played two months for the Cyclones in 1944, but he made a huge impact. As part of the Navy V-5 aviation cadet program, the 23-year-old Brookfield was an All-American at West Texas State prior to his arrival at ISU. He gained eligibility with the Cyclones as a Naval cadet and led ISU to a Big Six title and a berth into the NCAA Final Four in 1944.
2. 1965 Topps MLB- Bob Locker: This is the rookie card of Bob Locker, who was an All-Big Eight pitcher for ISU in 1960. Locker pitched 10 years in MLB and was considered one of the best relievers in baseball in the late 1960s and early 1970s. This card is special to me because my father, Ken, was teammates with Locker at ISU. Both signed professional contracts after graduation. When Locker was inducted into the ISU Letterwinners Hall of Fame in 2008, my dad drove over 1,000 miles to Ames to surprise and reunite with his old friend.
3. 1971-72 Topps NBA- Zaid Abdul-Aziz (Don Smith): This card symbolizes 1970s cool to me. Zaid Abdul-Aziz, who played at ISU as Don Smith, is no doubt one of the greatest basketball players in Cyclone history. I have had the pleasure to meet with Abdul-Aziz, who was the 1968 Big Eight Player of the Year, numerous times. We interviewed him for the 100 years of ISU hoops DVD and he gave us incredible insight on his Cyclone career. He recently wrote a book: Darkness to Sunlight: The Life-Changing Journey of Zaid Abdul-Aziz. It’s a good read with cool stories on his time in Ames.
4. 1958 Topps NFL- Jim Doran: I really didn’t know much about Jim Doran until I started working at Iowa State in 1995. I quickly realized what a special talent he was. Entering ISU as a walk-on, Doran earned All-America honors (1950), breaking virtually every receiving record at ISU. He played nine years in the NFL and made the Pro Bowl in 1960. Doran was a member of ISU’s inaugural Hall of Fame class in 1997.
5. 1992-93 Fleer NBA- Jeff Hornacek: Jeff Hornacek scored the most points (15,659) in the NBA of any player from a school in the state of Iowa. His 14-year NBA career is also the longest professional career of any Cyclone in the three major sport leagues (NBA, MLB, NFL). In 1992, Hornacek made the NBA All-Star game as a member of the Phoenix Suns and this card commemorates his accomplishment. He was traded after his All-Star season to the Philadelphia 76ers in a blockbuster trade involving NBA legend Charles Barkley. Hornacek was recently hired as the head coach of the Phoenix Suns.