Sunday, December 15, 2019

Celebrity Jersey Cards #648 Haley Reinhart & LeAnn Rimes

This is a regular series in which I create virtual trading cards for celebrities wearing jerseys. Today I feature two of my favorite singers.

I have loved Haley Reinhart since I first heard her perform "Creep" on YouTube. Although I'm not a concert guy, nor much of a fan of music later than 2000, I make the exception for Haley. A Chicago area native, she first rose to fame on American Idol. She gained more success when her version of "Can't Help Falling in Love" was used for a gum ad. I have had the pleasure of meeting Haley three times and she is simply adorable, fun and friendly. Much like her music, Haley's Celebrity Jersey Card is a bit of a throwback, featuring an old/new Chargers jersey, specifically #18 of Charley Joiner.
 A native of Mississippi, LeAnn Rimes burst onto the country music scene at the young age of 13. Over the years, her music has crossed over into the pop genre, but either way, her voice continues to be one of the best ever. For her Celebrity Jersey Card, Rimes went to her music roots with the Tennessee Titans. I'm calling the #4 a Ryan Succop jersey, but I wouldn't argue with Rimes if she disagreed.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Cards That Never Were: Scott Hunter Topps 1975

Cards That Never Were is a recurring series in which I create virtual trading cards for players missed in various sets. It is a concept I have borrowed from far too many to list, but I appreciate all of their efforts.
Today's feature comes with a big assist from Lynn in the Custom Baseball Cards Facebook group. Lynn is one of the most active creators and certainly one of the best. He is very good about helping others and often responds with "I'll put it in the queue," followed soon after by the finished product.
Scott Hunter was on my list for a long time. Hunter was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in 1971 and spent three seasons trying to follow Bart Starr (an impossible task). He was traded to the Buffalo Bills prior to the 1974 season, a season which saw him get in one game. The Bills waived him prior to the 1975 season. He played with the Atlanta Falcons in 1976 and '77. The Falcons released him before the 1978 season, which was another season he did not appear on an NFL roster. He returned in 1979 with the Detroit Lions, seeing limited action. That was his last NFL season.
Topps included Hunter in their sets in 1971-'73, '77 and '78. He was missed in 1975 and 1979, although understandably so. Still, that doesn't work for me.
I have been trying to find pictures of Hunter with the Bills and the Lions to correct this omission. To my happy surprise, a few months ago, without my plea, Lynn produced a 1974 Hunter card with the Bills. Lynn creates his cards differently from me. I would put Hunter on a 1975 Topps card, because he played for the Bills in 1974. Lynn usually uses the year played for his card design. Neither is wrong. It's just a matter of preference.
The good news for me is I was able to use Lynn's picture to create my long-sought 1975 Topps card/ I have pictured both below. Now, if only I can find a picture of Hunter with the Lions.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Deena Fagiano: Pretty Face, Pretty Tough!

When you see Deena Fagiano, you see a beautiful young lady, highlighted by a wonderful smile and thick flowing hair, oh and lots of muscles.  Deena is much more than just a pretty face (and big muscles) though.
Deena is a former member of the Chicago Bliss of the Legends Football League.  She was a key member of 3 championships with the Bliss.
It would be easy to dismiss her ability and effort because she has the look necessary to succeed in the Legends Football League.  As an offensive lineman, she didn't play one of the "star" positions either.  Make no mistake though, Deena earned her place on the team and was a contributor to three LFL titles in four years.
I have seen her work hard in practice.  By the way, the practices are twice weekly and usually start in January.  Like the other ladies of the LFL, Deena is fully committed to this to the point that I don't even understand it.  Remember, they don't get paid, yet there they all are working so hard for months, just for 4 games and two playoff games.  Obviously, their titles prove their work pays off.
It would be easy for Deena to accept a lesser role on the team, but she continues to work and train hard to improve every time.  Actually, it might be even easier for Deena to quit the whole thing and look for work in modeling or television.  This just proves her passion for what she does.
Deena is kind of a microcosm of the entire league.  These ladies work so hard for no pay and very little recognition, but they love what they do.  I really wish the league was run differently.  I think it really could be a gold mine for everyone involved, including the ladies who make the league.
You might look at Deena and the others and think they are just eye candy, but you'd be wrong.  Check out any game or even any of my interviews with them (at On the Beat With the Chicago Bliss on YouTube).
Deena has moved on from the league and is enjoying life. I miss #5 though. It was a pleasure covering her.  She was always good for a fun interview.Deena did not play in 2017 and I don't know what her future holds.  I know she will succeed though.  
Deena Fagiano and me in Bridgeview, IL-July 2015.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Tim Zurko and Chicago Pop Culture Con

I spent last weekend at the Chicago Pop Culture Con. My full story can be found at Fun at Chicago Pop Culture Con 2019 on
Zurko Promotions runs the Chicago Pop Culture Con and several other events throughout the year around the Chicago area, including their All Night Flea Market in October.
Zurko Promotions is a family affair. Brothers Tim and Bob are always on hand and I recently met their father. I am sure there are other Zurko family members on site, but I haven't met them all yet.
These events have a little bit of everything. There usually is a former Chicago athlete, a couple of celebrities, local authors, creators, artists and more. Over the years, I have met CJ and Richie Ramone, Wesley Euer and Kathy Coleman (of tv's Land of the Lost), former Chicago athletes Jim Morrissey, Chris Zorich, Bobby Douglas, Kurt Becker and Paul Popovich and more.
Aside from the celebrities, many of the regulars have become friends of mine. I always enjoy catching up with Chicago filmmaker John Borowski, author Racheal Blaze, James Azrael (who does too many things to list), horror host Deadgar Winter and so many other talented folks. One of the cool things is seeing them interact with each other.
I also have fun discovering others like Darren Marlar of the "Weird Darkness" podcast. I met Marlar for the first time this year and gave his podcast a listen. It has a lot of interesting content and I have added it to my podcast listening rotation. Now I look forward to catching up with him in the future.
If this all sounds like a bit of a family reunion, it sort of is. These might not be my everyday friends, but it always seems that way when I see them again. Plus, I know many of the attendees and it's just as fun seeing them.
It all goes back to Zurko Promotions for creating this atmosphere. Their events succeed because they feel like a big county fair on a Sunday morning. I mean that in all the best ways. Their events have all of the good elements of bigger conventions, while retaining the family feel of smaller events. I never feel overwhelmed or hurried, yet at the end of each event, I always feel like I did and saw so much.
Go to for info on all of their events. Their next event is the Chicago Area Antique Flea Market in Wheaton on December 15.
Tim Zurko and me in St. Charles, IL-December 2918.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Friend Encounters: Renee Neufville and Chris Bejcek

Friend Encounters is a weekly series featuring friends who have met celebrities.

When we last saw Chris Bejcek, he was probably with a member of the Chicago Bandits or a musician. A longtime member of Bandit Nation, Chris is a season ticket holder for the Bandits. He is also an avid concert-goer, having attended more than 1,000 shows in his life.
Chris had a headstart on me with the Bandits, but I have done pretty good catching up with him on meeting players. He crushes me on the music scene though. He probably sees more concerts in any year than I have seen in my entire life. Chris has started to document his concerts and has accounted for at least 1,000, but he knows it is even higher. that doesn't count some musical performances like Julia Cole's short set at the National Pro Fastpitch awards banquet.
Earlier this year, Chris saw Renee Neufville, formerly one-half of Zhan√© (with Jean Morris), an R&B pair from the '90s. After Zhan√©, Neufville kept busy with various collaborations, before releasing her debut solo single in 2015.
Obviously with 1,000 concerts on his resume, Chris must be a fan of a lot of different styles. If you follow him on social media or catch my occasional features on him here, you will see he is a big fan of Bruce Hornsby, but he also sees plenty of other musicians from many genres of music.
If you go to a Bandits game next year (and I highly encourage you to do so), look for Chris in his front row seat behind home plate. If you go to any convert in the Chicago area, keep an eye out for Chris, because there is a decent chance you will see him grooving to whatever music is being played.
Chris Bejcek and Renee Neufville in Chicago, IL-March 2019.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Kal Herro and Blizzard Brawl 2019

Last weekend, I had a blast at as Great Lakes Championship Wrestling presented Blizzard Brawl: Challenge of the SuperFriends.  I was especially looking forward to this one, because it would be the first time I saw Kal Herro wrestle.
I don't "know" Kal very well, but I have seen him grow up over the years. Now, as a high school senior, he is just starting a pro wrestling career. He has a few matches under his belt, but I wasn't able to see any of them until Saturday.
Kal is a fine young man. I follow him and his dad David on social media and see them together at various comic cons and other wrestling events. I admire their bond. It's quite heartwarming.
Kal already has a unique look and a following. Of course, it helps that his father promotes events, but Kal works hard and earns everything her gets. I think Kal and his father have too much respect for the business and for each other to have it any other way.
Through social media, I see how hard Kal is working and that work is paying dividends.What he lacks in experience, he makes up for in attitude and work ethic. The experience will only come with time and in-ring action.
Speaking of in-ring action, Kal was involved in a six-man tag match. While I would have liked to see Kal go in a singles match, to see him perform more, it was an interesting match. Because it was a six-man match, Kal didn;t see a ton of action, but he saw some solid action. He received some killer chops and sold them like an old pro. He delivered some offense, too. It was a limited view, but Kal looked solid. He'll only get better with more matches.
He is a young work in progress, but he has a great start and I see him eventually in the WWE, if he chooses to continue his path. He has charisma, athleticism and intangibles. I look forward to following his career wherever it leads. I also look forward to seeing him wrestle in the near future.
There was plenty of other action Saturday. My other stories can be found at Blizzard Brawl Rocked Kenosha! for and also Report and Photos From Blizzard Brawl on
Thank you to David Herro for his hospitality and consideration. GLCW is a first class operation and it all starts with David.
Check out GLCW for more info. Also, check the GLCW Facebook page for more frequent updates.
Kal Herro and me in Kenosha, WI-December 2019.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Happy Birthday Chuck

Today, I celebrate the birthday of Chuck Gekas. He deserves the star treatment.
We've had a friendship forged over about 25 years. Chuck and I have enjoyed many great times and laughs over the years. He's been there for me through good and bad and I hope he knows I am there for him always.
I believe in surrounding yourself with good people and there truly is none better than Chuck. A friend, adviser, and role model, I look at Chuck as the big brother I never had. I can never repay or thank Chuck enough for what he means to me.
Chuck and I can be as petty as can be when we are competing, but he is actually a very humble man, even if he won't admit it. That doesn't mean I will ever take it easy on him. I have too much respect for him and he wouldn't want it any other way.
I am sure Chuck will be celebrating with his wife (and I will not even mention that she is long-suffering) and his three daughters and their families. He'll be ensconced in love and he deserves it.
Happy birthday Chachi! I love ya, bud!
Chuck Gekas and me in Elmhurst, IL-June 2019.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Celebrity Jersey Cards #647 Mary Tyler Moore & Regis Philbin

Celebrity Jersey Cards is a weekly series in which I create virtual trading cards for celebrities wearing jerseys. We're going old school today.

New York born Mary Tyler Moore starred in two of the most classic tv shows, first The Dick Van Dyke Show, followed by The Mary Tyler Moore Show. The latter was set in Minneapolis, which ties in her Minnesota Vikings jersey. Moore wore the #10 Fran Tarkenton while washing a car, but I am unsure if this was from the actual series. Either way, it landed her on a Celebrity Jersey Card.
 Also born in New York, Regis Philbin had a legendary career, which saw him as popular as ever, if not more, late in his career from his Regis show, as well as the wildly popular Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Philbin showed off his guns on his Celebrity Jersey Card, while wearing a #1 jersey, presumably for him, and not any of the four one year wearers of #1 with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Cards That Never Were: Doug Dieken Topps 1972, '73 AND '85

Cards That Never Were is a recurring series in which I create virtual trading cards for players missed in various sets. It is a concept I have borrowed from far too many to list, but a lot of their work can be found in the Custom Baseball Cards Facebook group (and it's not just for baseball cards).
After an excellent career at the University o Illinois, Doug Dieken was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the 6th round of the 1971 NFL Draft. The star tackle would go on to play 203 games over 14 seasons all with the Browns. A true ironman, he never missed a game. Upon retirement, he became a broadcaster for the Browns.
For his efforts, Topps gave him a card in their sets from 1974-1984, missing 1972, '73 and '85. Fear not though, for I have filled in those gaps.  As I have written many times, I think all players deserve cards for every year, but a player of Dieken's caliber definitely deserved a "career capper" card and I always like the '895 Topps football cards anyway.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Johngy Shirt Heidi Steiner

Back in the days of Resistance Pro Wrestling, Heidi Steiner was a familiar sight at all events. Among other tasks, she worked security at times. Looking at her, you might wonder how she could handle security. She's not a super big person. Although not big in stature, Heidi is a bit of a firecracker (in the best sense of the word). I am pretty sure she could put a hurting on someone if they crossed her.
Heidi's other contribution to RPro was her son Scott (aka the WonderBoy). The two have such a great relationship,. It really is heart-warming.
Since the transition to The Resistance, Heidi hasn't been around much unfortunately. I miss seeing her around.
Heidi always was supportive of everyone at RPro. She helped a friend of mine, whose teenager was going through a rough stretch. She didn't have to reach out, but she did and I appreciate the consideration and compassion she showed.
I also appreciate Heidi for wearing a Johngy shirt to a show. There was a time back then when you could see several Johngy shirts at any event. I always got a kick out of it. It was silly, yet cool (sort of like Heidi herself).
Heidi is just one example of the friendships developed while at RPro. It was a special time with special people, like Heidi.
Heidi Steiner and me in Chicago, IL-September 2013.