The Pizza Hut Street Ball

Pizza Hut has had some of the best premium items in the history of fast food, and maybe one of their coolest offerings was their Street Balls they rolled out during March Madness for a few years in the early ’90s. Kinda like I’m doing with this post…trying to capitalize on the season. The street balls were non-standard-looking basketballs with custom prints that reflected what Pizza Hut thought the culture on the streets was like.

I had the one featured in the video above and used it all the time in my driveway shooting hoops by myself or playing a game of Around the World with my neighbor. I somehow felt like it made me a better player, but it probably just made me look like an even bigger doofus than I already did as a skinny, pasty-white white boy in the rural Appalachians trying to dribble between my legs on the way for a layup.

While I actually did play basketball in school and was a really good shot from downtown, I just didn’t look like a real ball player. What made matters worse was the fact that every one of us lanky kids who got one of these balls would bring them to practice trying to look cool. That doesn’t work when everybody brings one.

But I’ll say again, these street balls were a great piece of promotion by Pizza Hut, and anyone who was around back then surely remembers them.

The Buffalo Bills in the Playoffs Takes Me Back to the ’90s

Scott Norwood

They made their fans sweat it out, but the Buffalo Bills are in the playoffs again this year with the Jacksonville Jaguars loss this weekend. Their season hasn’t been pretty, but they’re in pretty good form right now and can make a run at the Super Bowl with a little luck.

Whether they achieve that goal or not, just seeing the Bills back in contention for a Superbowl berth takes me straight back to the ’90s. Back then, the Bills being in the playoffs and having exciting moments went together like peanut butter and jelly. Like back in 1993 when they were a wildcard team and had to face the offensive powerhouse Houston Oilers.  And they had to do it without their starting quarterback Jim Kelly, their starting tailback Thurman Thomas, and one of their best linebackers, Cornelius Bennett.  At least they were getting to play in their home stadium if nothing else. 

My old man and I decided to watch the game that afternoon.  My Dad was just a casual football fan and rarely watched a game unless it was the Superbowl, and even then I think it was just because it was a national event, and not because he personally enjoyed it so much.  As for me, I was really getting into football at that point, and watched full games every week, and was excited about all the playoff matchups.  What we thought was going to be just an enjoyable playoff game, turned out to be one of the most exciting NFL games ever played, and featured the greatest comeback in NFL playoff history. 

At halftime, with the score being 35 – 3 in favor of the Houston Oilers, my Dad decided he had seen enough, and changed the channel to some western movie most likely.  Even though the game was a blowout, I decided I wanted to keep watching it and headed off to my bedroom to see the rest of it. 

As the Bills started their comeback and continued to rack up points, I tried to keep my Dad informed by yelling from the bedroom to the living room, “THE BILLS JUST GOT A TOUCHDOWN!  IT’S 35 – 10!”.  “THE BILLS GOT AN ONSIDE KICK!”.  “THE BILLS JUST GOT ANOTHER TOUCHDOWN!!!  IT’S 35- 17!!!”.  It wasn’t until they had come all the way back and took the lead that he became interested once again and changed the channel back to the game.  I rejoined him and we watched the closing moments of regulation where the Oilers tied the game with a field goal with just a few seconds left. 

But that was just a formality, as destiny was clearly on the side of the Buffalo Bills.  The defense picked off a Warren Moon pass that set up the winning field goal from Scott Christie to set the Bills on a course to the Superbowl and left the Houston Oilers on the wrong side of history.

Watch the highlights on YouTube

Now if you’re relatively new to the world of football, you may read that and think that maybe destiny will shine on the Bills again this year, but as Lee Corso would say, “NOT SO FAST”.  Because the Bills have also been on the wrong side of history in the playoffs before, and matter of fact, it was such a moment in NFL history that it earned a nickname..the Music City Miracle. 

Back in 1999, on a cold and snowy Saturday here in the Appalachian mountains, I took a ride with my brother to look for some carpeting for his house instead of just laying on the couch watching football all afternoon.  At the carpet outlet, they had a television set up and were watching the wildcard match-up between the Buffalo Bills and the Tennessee Titans.  The game was a low scoring affair, but I had a seat and focused on the game while my brother was doing his browsing and haggling with the salesman.  When he was ready to leave, the game was half-way through the 3rd quarter. 

We got back home, and I turned on the game, and he decided to sit and watch the end of it with me since it was a close game.  After just a few minutes, we watched the same Steve Christie kick what was thought to be the game-winner with just 18 seconds left to play, but this time, the Bills WERE NOT the Cinderella team.  The Tennessee Titans were as you’ll see in the clip below. 

So as the Bills enter the playoffs once again, I have to wonder if Lady Luck will shine on them this time, or will she be riding shotgun with their opponents?  One thing is for sure, with their history of dramatic playoff games, I’ll be tuning in, and I’m sure all those nostalgic memories of their games from the past will come flooding back again, and take me back to the ’90s once more. I’ll try to forget the one where Scott Norwood went wide right though. That was a heartbreaker right there.

Maybe I should call up my Dad and brother and see if they are up for watching one more Bills playoff game together.

1990/1991 NBA Hoops Trading Cards

Somewhere in 1990, I really started getting into trading cards. Baseball cards mostly, and some non-sports cards that I thought were cool. In the fall of that year, I spotted packs of 1990/1991 NBA Hoops cards and they would be my first foray into the world of basketball cards. I saw them at my local grocery store one day and bought a few packs. I really didn’t know what to expect. I just knew that some other kids at school were trading basketball cards and these were basketball cards. I found that I loved them. The silver border was cool. I knew some of the players, there were rookie cards and all-star cards to try and find, and my friends at school now wanted to include me in their trading. All was well in my world when it came to basketball cards.

The next time we went to the store, I spent my whole allowance on packs of these. When we got to the car, my mom threw a fit about me using all of my money on cards. She gave me a lecture on how cards aren’t worth what people think they are. In her words, “If they were worth anything, they wouldn’t put them in those packs. They’d just sell them for what they’re worth.” She clearly didn’t understand how the secondary market worked. And she didn’t understand that having these cards got me into a somewhat exclusive group at school. To me, that made these cards worth spending a whole week’s allowance on.

I still dabble in trading cards from time to time, and when I’m on that kick, I’m always on the lookout for unopened packs of these. It’s not with the hope of finding anything valuable in them because that’s not really a possibility. It’s just that opening an unsealed pack of these takes me back to my middle school days for just a little while, and that’s a high you can’t buy.

Rollergames in HD

I’ve talked about my fandom of Rollergames in the past. I talked about it when I covered the Rollergames Nintendo game comic book ad, and again not that long ago when I posted the Rollergames Yearbooks as a Time Capsule. But for those of you who don’t know, Rollergames was a syndicated “sports” show that debuted in September of 1989. It was a version of roller derby played on a figure-8 track. In addition to the game itself, episodes also featured “live” rock music performances. This version of roller derby also featured a pit that housed alligators that would be used during “sudden death” overtime periods in tied games. This version of roller derby was obviously heavily influenced by the theatrics of the World Wrestling Federation.

Recently, the original episodes of Rollergames have been remasted in HD and released on YouTube. If you never saw the show in its heyday, check out the good-looking video of the very first episode, and see why I was such a big fan of it. Maybe you’ll become a fan too.

The 1993 MTV Rock & Jock BBall Jam

MTV’s Rock & Jock series of sporting events are a big part of my ’90s nostalgia. The softball games, basketball games, and later on the football games, were some of the highlights of MTV’s offerings for me. The basketball games were always my favorite, and the game usually aired on NBA All-Star weekend.

The teams were always made up of a combination of NBA players, actors, musicians, MTV regulars, and other pop culture personalities. This eccentric mix of talent always made for a memorable game, and in this post, we’re looking back at one of the more entertaining games from the series in 1993.

Time Capsule: Rollergames Yearbook From 1990

Rollergames was a U.S. television series that presented a theatrical version of roller derby. It was broadcast for one season from 1989 to 1990. The show took place in the Super Roller Dome, and all shows were produced there. Instead of a banked oval track, it featured a figure eight track, where one side was heavily banked, and was known as the “wall of death”. In an attempt to capitalize on the popularity of the show, a yearbook magazine was released highlighting the game, the skaters, and the storylines. I present that yearbook in its entirety for your enjoyment.

The flipbook below is easy to use, and I suggest enlarging it to full size for maximum enjoyment.

Wax Pack Flashback: Awesome! All-Stars Trading Cards (1988)

It’s another episode of Wax Pack Flashback! Where we open old packs of trading cards and let you watch along to join in the fun. There were so many sets and series of cards that came out in the ’80s and ’90s, that there was no way you could have got to experience them all. That’s where we come in. We track them down and open them so you can see what was missed.

In this episode that I filmed for The Retro Network, I open a pack of Awesome! All-Star cards that were produced by Fleer in 1988. I’m pretty sure a pack of these was the first cards I ever purchased on my own. So sit back and enjoy seeing what I find inside.

The 1992 Topps Baseball Card Project

I’ve always been a big fan of trading cards. Ever since I first laid eyes on my brother’s collection of Elvis cards when I was really young, I’ve been fascinated by them. That fascination only increased when my friends were bringing the original Garbage Pail Kids cards to school.

I think my first foray into that world was actually Panini sticker albums instead of cards. The first one I remember having was the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe one. I followed that up with several others including more licensed ones and even the generic ones like the exotic animals album.

If my recollection is right, the first packs of actual trading cards I bought for myself were Awesome All-Stars and Greatest Gross Outs. These were imitation baseball cards that depicted weird aliens as baseball players in comic form. I loved those things, and my passion for cards only grew stronger.

Fast forward a few years and I was an avid collector of cards of all types. Baseball, basketball, football, non-sports, Panini stickers…if it was out there, I was interested in it. But 1992 may have been the peak of my fandom in my early years. It was that summer that a group of friends and I spent most days just trading cards amongst ourselves. It was also the year Topps released the 1992 version of their iconic baseball cards.

I was buying a couple of packs every week, and would proudly proclaim to my card trading friends that I was going to get the whole set. They were behind me and even gifted me their doubles on a regular basis. But what I didn’t calculate at that time was the sheer size of the set. Combine that with a meager allowance and you have the recipe for a failed attempt at collecting a whole set. Needless to say, I didn’t even come close.

Fast forward many more years to where I got on eBay and picked up a few packs of some random non-sports cards. Just the act of opening those packs once again got my juices flowing, and I started buying more and more old unopened packs. Before I knew it, I had an impressive collection of them. Figuring that there were more people out there in the world like me who enjoyed that feeling of ripping open a pack of cards and rifling through them to see what they had got, I took to filming the openings and sharing them on YouTube. You’re probably familiar since I’ve posted several of those videos here on Retro Ramblings.

One of the packs I happened to pick up then was the 1992 Topps baseball. When I opened a pack of those cards, so much nostalgia came flooding back to me. Memories of summer days and a promise I made long ago. Now we’re about two years removed from that day, and I had the itch to not only open some more cards but try to assemble a set.

The cards I started opening were Dick Tracy cards based on the movie from 1990. I had about 25 packs of them and I thought I might have a whole collection there. I opened them, put them in pages, and came up really close. It turned out to be a really fun evening, and then a thought hit me. What if I once again tried to assemble the complete 792 card set of 1992 Topps baseball cards?

All of my original cards are long gone, but what I did have was about ten unopened packs, plus the cards from three packs I’ve opened recently. I ran the idea by my friends at The Retro Network, and they’ve been really supportive. So much so that Karen’s dad has offered to send me a bunch of his doubles from the set!

So I’m going for it. It’s a project that I’d consider to be 30 years in the making. I ordered 100 trading cards pages from Amazon, bought a heavy-duty 3-ring binder, decorated the cover of it with a package from a pack of the cards, and wrote all 792 numbers down in a small notebook for keeping track of the cards I’m still looking for when I’m out and about.

While this is mostly just a personal goal of my own, I thought I would share it with you in case you’ve got something you’ve been holding off on starting for a while. Don’t wait. Go out and get started! As this project matures, I’ll probably share more of the journey with you here on Retro Ramblings. But for now, I’m going to go open another pack of cards.

Wax Pack Flashback: American Gladiators Trading Cards (1991)

It’s time once again to watch along as I open an old pack of trading cards! This time up, it’s American Gladiators cards from 1991. American Gladiators was one of my favorite shows of the time as it featured larger-than-life characters locked in sporting combat with better-than-average joes in incredibly entertaining games. These cards capture the feel of the show with its glamour shots of the Gladiators, mixed with action shots from the games.

This video was filmed quite a while back however as part of the Wax Pack Flashback series that I launched on The Retro Network. But the timing of the filming doesn’t really matter, as it’s evergreen content that is good whenever it’s consumed. I hope watching this makes you feel young again.

Wax Pack Flashback: Topps Baseball Cards (1992)

Here’s another episode of my Wax Pack Flashback series of videos I did for The Retro Network on our TRNTV YouTube channel. In this video, I open a pack of my favorite baseball cards ever, 1992 Topps! I believe the ’92 Topps baseball series is the set I acquired the most cards for in all of my years of collecting. I just thought they were some of the best-looking cards I had seen up to that point, and they were readily available everywhere I went, so I was picking up a pack or two on an almost daily basis back in 1992. So enjoy this little trip down memory lane and watch along as I break a pack and see what I find inside.