How I SHUFFLED the CARDS or….. A small step for one man, a GIANT LEAP for Sports Fans
In 1960, the once Chicago Cardinals left the windy city and under the helm of Charles Bidwell the team moved south to St. Louis to escape the embarrassment of having to play 2nd fiddle to the mighty Chicago Bears. St. Louis became an NFL city and during the 1960’s the team was not bad and they began the 1970’s with their greatest win ever…a 38-0 shellacking of the Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football.
From this peak, the performance of the team was a steeper decline than an Olympic downhill ski run. Their losing ways were infamous and despite a few good players, the new owner Bill Bidwell was a stodgy old rich guy who had was perceived as a guy who just didn’t care. The stadium was packed every Sunday and television was beginning to make the owners even wealthier than they already were.
My Dad bought season tickets back in 1966 and we were regular attendees at the games, but the team just plain sucked. In the fall of 1972, I couldn’t take the losing any more, but rather be a docile fan who accepted losing, I decided to try and put some pressure on the owner to DO SOMETHING to at least try and produce a winning football team for St. Louis.
In November of 1972, I came up with what I thought was a fun ( and making fun) idea to show the owner of the team that the fans would not tolerate the incompetence of a team who obviously were not having fun and were not given the necessary coaches and players to produce a consistent, winning team.
Here is the Ad I took out in the St. Louis Post Dispatch and Globe Democrat SPorts Page
Framed by this background, I came up with an idea that had more effect on all of America than I could have ever imagined. The idea was simple. I took out a small 3 column by 4 inch add in the local St. Louis Post Dispatch. I asked the St. Louis football fans to join my new movement…,”SHUFFLE the CARDS”. The advertisement asked fans if they were tired of the inept play of the team, and if so, they could send $ 1.00 to my P.O. Box. In return they received the Bumper sticker shown above, a 1” button with the dazed and confused Cardinal logo I conceived and drew, and the entire 4 play Cardinal Playbook.
Here are the plays I drew on an 8 ½” x 11” paper and mimeographed them. The plays included the following…
Within 24 hours of this advertisement appearing in the St. Louis paper, a huge, and “never before imagined” occurrence took place. For the first time EVER in the history of professional sports a paying fan spoke up and ridiculed a home team. It was blasphemy and the “good old boys” at the Sports desk of the local newspapers vehemently attacked me in their columns. Bob Broeg called me “a lunatic fan” and Bob Burnes said I was a misguided profiteer ( Hey, I was asking $ 1.00 for all the goodies and I had to MAIL IT, so it wasn’t exactly a get-rich-quick scheme) and one of the players even hinted at my sexuality ( or lack thereof).
The first ad ran on November 14, 1972 and on November 20 the following article ran on the FRONT PAGE of the Post-Dispatch
I have to thank those writers who blasted me in their columns because within 3 days from the publication of those articles, the Shuffle the Cards movement had gone in today terms…VIRAL. I appeared on all of the television news channels locally, and I got a national appearance on the Regis Philbin show. The other guest was Bill Veeck who was one of the greatest showmen in sports and he applauded me for speaking out against owner mediocrity
Here’s an ad I placed after I got blasted by the old timers in the St. Louis press
This infuriated the football Cardinal Brass even more, but we continued to have the letters pour in. I would go the Post Office and they would have bags filled with mail. Fortunately, I had my wife Helene, our good friends Howard and Joan Goldenberg and my best buddy Don Platt, helping to take out the dollar bills and send out the Membership packets.
Here’s a UPI press clipping that ended up in over 200 newspapers worldwide- Too bad no INTERNET and no T-Shirts back then
Here is a clipping from the Chicago Tribune
This phenomenon lasted for about 4 weeks and then flamed out, but what a great ride it was. Ten years later, my friend and sports writer, Tom Barnidge did a follow up article on how my life turned out and what a brave thing I had done. Professionalsports was no longer sacrosanct. Pick up any sports section today and you will read massive criticism of any and ALL sports teams and the players. It wasn’t that way in 1972, and I’m glad I was able to help change how people looked at things they were paying for.
It also led me to my business guarantee that I have used for over 36 years now. “ We give a 100% guarantee on everything we sell. If you are not happy, return your item for a replacement or a 100% REFUND.
Too bad Bidwell and the Cardinals didn’t get it back then, but I DID
In 1976, 4 years after all of this happened, the Post-Dispatch reporter, Tom Barnidge called me again and wanted to do a follow-up story.Below is his article if you care to read it… Thanks Tom- you made me famous (infamous?)
is another headline and story Mr. Barnidge wrote 10 YEARS AFTER the EVENTin the St. Louis Post Dispatch sports pages- I thjink he had just as much fun as I did and knew this was a sports-changing event and he couldn’t let it go. I believe Mr. Barnidge saw the future of professional sports in America and how it would be open to controversy and criticism.
November , 1982
Postscript: I was the first one to protest professional sports. It gave me notoriety but I learned that the Mass Media will always get the last word. In this particular case, I became world famous for a few weeks and it wasn't long before professional sports teams were no longer sacred cows and both owners and players were subject to complete examination. In 2011 you can pick up any paper, browse any sports feed online and you will see criticism of owners, coaches and players. Just remember who started it all....I'm proud of it.
I’m a hockey nut now- love college footballand especiallyM-I-Z---Z-O-U
BTW, I have to put in a plug for one of my best friends, Don Henderson who for 30 years owned the Missouri Shirt Company store in downtown Columbia.If you needany MIZZOU shtuff for friends and family, please shop at his online store.....
I also went to the show, I think it was taped on a Sat night. The other guest was Slappy White, an African-American stand-up comic who did the routine with his one black hand and one white gloved hand, about all of us getting together (long before Michael Jackson's Ebony and Ivory). I ended up in Los Angeles, living on the same street as Slappy, whom I found after following his Mercedes with the license plate SLAPPY.
(January 13, 2011 ~ 3:42 PM)
By David Spetner
Regis Philbin Show
I remember when we went on the local Regis Philbin show with "Shuffle the Cards".The guests included a girl ice skating on plastic ice that needed lubrication. Jack Lalanne was on hawking an exercise machine. When Regis couldn't manage the exerciser I yelled out that he needed more lubricant.