The last thing Stars owner Myles Tanenbaum wanted after his team's 1984 championship was to shake things up. Philly fans were thrilled with the Stars' success, coming out in droves to games as well as the victory parade. Many believed the Stars were even a superior squad to the Eagles. Why suddenly switch the USFL season from its customary spring and summer months to the fall? Why compete directly with the NFL? Tanenbaum rejected what he saw as Generals owner Donald Trump's pipe dream for a USFL-NFL merger. But Trump won out and so Tanenbaum hedged his bets by moving the Stars to football-less Baltimore. Or so it seemed. In fact, only the games themselves were played in Maryland. Everything else—practices, training, office meetings—took place back in Philly. "We essentially played 18 road games that last year," said GM Carl Peterson. Yet somehow, despite all the odds stacked against them, Jim Mora's men managed to close out the USFL era by winning their second straight league title. Hence, these are the last champions of the last championship team in USFL history.
The Wilson USFL (Chet Simmons) ball features blue-ink "8-10" signatures of Michael McInnis, Scott Nizolek, Sam Mills, Dave Boisture, Joe Conwell, Mike Lush, Sean Landeta, Buddy Moor, Chuck Fusina, Irv Eatman, Jeff Rodenberger, Tom Donovan, Vince DeMarinis, R.L. Harris, John Walker, Ken Dunek, Victor Harrison, Tim Riordan, Jonathan Sutton, Allen Harvin, Chuck Commiskey, George Cooper, Dave Opfar, Garcia Lane, Pete Kugler, David Trout, Bart Oates, James Cofer, Larry McCoy, Bill Hardee, Anthony Anderson, David Riley, Glenn Howard, Joe Happe, Steve Folsom, Scott Woerner and Willie Collier. All three white panels show consistent crazing throughout; otherwise, the ball is EX and does hold air. LOA from Stars staff member John McGuire. Auction LOA from JSA.
USFL Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars Front-Office Collection
For all three years of the United States Football League's existence, the Stars were the dominant powerhouse franchise. They were the Yankees of the USFL—a juggernaut who nabbed more wins and more championships than any other team. Sports Illustrated has even gone so far as to call the Stars "Pro Football's Forgotten Dynasty." Between two seasons in Philly and one in Baltimore, Jim Mora's squads compiled a 48-13 overall record with three conference titles and two out of three USFL championships. Kelvin Bryant, Chuck Fusina, Bart Oates, Sam Mills and Sean Landeta, among others, made their names with the team.
Yet despite all the Stars' success, a surprisingly small amount of memorabilia has survived, let alone been made available for public sale. Avid USFL collectors suffer a distinct dearth of Stars material. Indeed, no game garments have reached the auction block since back in 2014, when we handled 8 Stars jerseys for a total of nearly $3,000. Team-signed footballs are rare as hen's teeth. Here, however, we have that and more, featuring a Bryant game jersey; Fusina and Landeta training jerseys; a 1985 championship signed ball; and a unique USFL banner.
The entire collection comes from Stars staff member John McGuire, who not only worked full-time in the front office from day one in 1983 to the bitter end in 1987, but was himself the very final Stars employee under GM Carl Peterson. McGuire was often the public face of the organization and wore many hats over the years, helping with the PR department, ticket services, community outreach, logistics and even videography. Everything in the collection was personally acquired or received by McGuire, who has held onto it all for the past 30+ years. McGuire's accompanying Letter of Authenticity tells the back-story in depth:
"I was a full time employee of the team for its entire existence, starting in January of 1983 and ending as the final employee in March of 1987. For the three seasons that the Stars actually played, 1983, 1984 and 1985, I was the Film Director. This included having an office with the coaching staff and interacting daily with coaches, players, support staff, business office, front office, and at times ownership. We were a very tight group, top to bottom.
After our final championship game in July of 1985, the team was set to take a year off as the USFL was seeking to move play to the Fall of 1986. At that time I was called to a meeting with Carl Peterson, our President and General Manager, and Jim Mora, our Head Coach. I was offered the opportunity to stay on if I would move to Baltimore and run the operation there. I agreed and moved to Baltimore in August of 1985.
In Baltimore we had an office right in midtown and ran media/public relations, tickets, community outreach, etc. During this time I would arrange public appearances with our players and coaches and be the face of the Stars organization all over the state of Maryland.
In July of 1986 we had signed a lease with Memorial Stadium and also with the former Colts Complex in Owings Mills, MD. I arranged for nine tractor trailers (Mayflower) to bring all of the warehoused items from Philadelphia to Owings Mills. They arrived the morning after the $1 verdict was reached in a New York courtroom. Just about all of those items (everything a pro football organization needed to operate, from desks to weights to uniforms) were sold at an auction in March of 1987.
The items I had in my possession were a collection of things that were issued to me over the three seasons the team played, things we used for public appearances on many occasions, things collected on my own, things I deemed important enough to hang onto for history's sake, things that held a very high sentimental value for what they were a part of. Every item is original and authentic and they were in my possession for the last 30+ years. Some things you can't put a price on.
When it all ended in March of 1987, I was the final employee working with Carl Peterson."