After including players from the NFL and AFL in 1961 with a 220-card set, Fleer cut back in 1962. Only players from the upstart American Football League were included in the third of Fleer football sets issued during the early 1960, and the set was cut back to a mere 88 cards.
The set might have been slim, but it sure was trim. The photography is surprisingly clear for an early 1960s release. Players are featured either in a posed action shot or a large, glorified mug shot. The player’s name and position, along with the team name, are featured directly beneath the photo on the front of the card. To the right of these identifying marks is the team logo.
The card backs have a blue-and-white color scheme. The top third of the back is blue, with the player’s name in white. The card number is also featured in white lettering. Three lines of vital statistics follow, with each player’s height, weight, age, college attended (if any) and years as a pro included. The rest of the card provided biographical information against a white background. Each team is arranged alphabetically by city.
The opening line of information about quarterback George Blanda was particularly interesting. Blanda, who had turned 34 during the 1961 season, had led the AFL with 3,330 passing yards and 36 touchdown passes — both career highs, and numbers that led the Houston Oilers to the league title. “Age wears well on the Youngswood, Pa., product,” the biography began. Who knew that Blanda would play 14 more seasons in the pros? Granted, he was used mostly as a kicker once he joined the Oakland Raiders in 1967, but Blanda’s career spanned four decades.
Not surprisingly, Blanda (No. 46) is one of the key cards in the 1962 Fleer set. The most valuable card is another quarterback, Jack Kemp (No. 79), with Don Maynard (No. 59), Jim Otto (No. 72) and rookie cards of Gino Cappelletti (No. 3), Billy Shaw (No. 16), Fred Williamson (No. 74) and Charlie Hennigan (No. 48) also being notable parts of the set. Another rookie, San Diego Chargers defensive tackle Ernie Ladd (No. 86), would be a key card. While he was an imposing presence in pro football at 6-foot-9 and 290 pounds, “The Big Cat” would be more widely known in later years as a professional wrestling villain.
Centering issues and wear make the 1962 Fleer set a tough one to complete in high grade. Of the 5,936 cards submitted to PSA for grading, 67 have been certified as PSA 10s, with an additional 745 cards grading at PSA 9. There are no graded gem mint cards of Kemp, and only 10 PSA 9s. It’s even tougher to find high-grade Cappelletti cards, with one at PSA 9 and 23 at PSA 8. There is yet to be a Blanda card with a PSA 10 rating, and only 12 have graded as high as PSA 9.
The 1962 Fleer set might have been the cleanest-looking of the four sets put out by the card company between 1960 and 1963. It does not have the luxury of players from two leagues like the 1961 set, nor does it have the scarce cards that were part of the ’63 product. It remains accessible to collectors, and there currently are nearly 1,800 listings for ’62 Fleers on eBay.