The TOPPS Baseball Cards Page!
1971 Topps #160 Tom Seaver 1952 Topps #31 Gus Zernial
For most kids, collecting cards in the 1950's up through the 1970's meant one brand: TOPPS. From 1952 to 1980, the primary card of choice was TOPPS baseball cards. This is because Topps had a virtual monopoly
on the bubble gum card market. They put rival companies out of business and signed players to exclusive baseball card contracts. During their history, Topps Chewing Gum (makers of Bazooka Bubble Gum featuring
"Bazooka Joe" comics) has printed some classic cardboard, some of which are quite valuable today. Topps was very innovative as well, trying new designs and photography and coming up with all sorts of sports and
non-sports trading cards. We are going to stick to baseball here and we are going to showcase at least one card from every Topps baseball set from 1952 to 1980. Starting in 1981, rival companies Fleer and Leaf were
both allowed to issue cards, though not with bubble gum. As the hobby exploded in growth, even more companies began producing baseball cards. There was no shortage of cards. So if you wanted to collect for
instance, every card of your favorite player you had a problem. Back when Topps was the primary supplier of baseball cards on a regular basis, you could collect every card of Fred Lynn. Topps produced a card of Fred
Lynn every year through his career, from 1975 to 1991. But to do that today with your favorite player presents a problem. Way too many cards, thousands in some cases. So we are going to make it easy and present
TOPPS cards only. It is very interesting to see the design changes thru the years. Click on each image to see a close up of the cards. Enjoy!
1952. 1952 was not the first year Topps produced baseball cards. Topps actually began in 1948 with their Topps "Magic" cards. Topps also produced early Team cards, a set of die cut All-Star cards
(both current and former All Stars) and two small sets of cards in 1951. However in 1952 Topps really hit it big with it's first major baseball issue. The 1952 Topps baseball card set is considered to be the
most important post-war baseball card issue. It set the standard for cards then and today. The set featured a whopping 407 cards (compare to Bowman Gum's 252 card set) with large (Topps advertised their
new cards as being "Giant Size") full color cards with team logos on front and biographies and statistics on the back. Baseball cards were issue in "series" throughout the year; usually the high numbered
series was printed is smaller quantities and the 1952 Topps "high numbers" are extremely scarce and valuable. According to Topps President Sy Berger, the left-over series (mostly high numbers) were dumped
in the Atlantic Ocean (remember this was before "recycling" came into vogue). This set features key rookie cards of Billy Martin, Minnie Minoso and Ed Mathews (high number plus the last card in the set), plus
most of the stars of the day like Willie Mays, Roy Campanella, Yogi Berra, Jackie Robinson, etc. Another key card is the very first card in the set, #1 Andy Pafko. Because the first and last cards in a set were
subject to the most abuse or handling (rubber bands, shoe boxes, etc.) card #1 Andy Pafko and the Mathews rookie card are extremely difficult to find in high grade. But the key card to the set and the most
desirable Topps baseball card ever is without a doubt #311 Mickey Mantle. Not only is this his first of many appearances on Topps baseball cards (Mantle appeared in every Topps set from 1952-53,
1956-1969 (there were no Topps Mickey Mantle cards issued in 1954 or 1955 as he signed exclusively with rival Bowman Gum those two years; after 1955, Topps bought out Bowman and Mantle was
included in every Topps set thereafter until his retirement). Note: This is not Mickey Mantle's rookie card as he appeared in the 1951 Bowman set. However because of the importance of this set, plus the fact
that it is Mickey Mantle's first Topps card and that it was included in the high numbered series, this Topps Mantle is valued quite a bit more than his 1951 Bowman rookie card. Graded PSA 5 EX examples
sell for about $15,000 now! Glaring omissions from the '52 Topps set include Joe DiMaggio (who had retired after the 1951 World Series), Stan Musial and Ted Williams. Both Musial and Williams had
signed exclusive contracts with rival Bowman Gum.
1953. The 1953 Topps set is also considered a classic today. Topps cards in 1953 were the same large size as the previous year (Topps thought that "size matters" and intentionally
produced these "Giant" sized baseball cards to outsell Bowman Gum's smaller sized baseball cards). These cards were hand painted, the first and last time Topps was to do this. They
are very beautiful cards. The key cards are Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays. This was the first Topps set to feature "short printed" cards (SP); these were produced in lesser quantities
than the regular cards. A couple of these short printed cards are also rookie cards, notably Jim Gilliam and Johnny Podres. There are a couple of notable MIA's (Missing In Action):
Stan Musial and Ted Williams, who were also missing from the 1952 Topps set. Musial was featured in the 1953 Bowman Color set but did not appear on another mainstream issue
until the 1958 Topps set. Williams, who was serving in Korea during the Korean War was not featured on a Topps card until 1954. Another key card is that of Satchel Paige (card
#220). It was to be his only appearance in a Topps baseball cards set as an active player. Paige also appears as a "St. Louis Brown" player; 1953 was the last year of the hapless
1954. Topps use of color highlighted the 1954 baseball cards. They featured brightly colored backgrounds as well as a large color photo of the player and a smaller black and white
"action" shot. This set featured two different Ted Williams cards, one to start the set (card #1) and one to finish (#250). Card #1 is Williams' regular card while card #250 features
cartoon "highlights" of Ted's career on the card back. Key rookie cards include Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, and Al Kaline. Hall of Fame manager Tom (Tommy) Lasorda is also
featured in his only appearance as a player in a Topps set. He later appeared as a Coach and Manager for the Dodgers. Being that Mickey Mantle is absent from this set, the most
expensive card is Henry Aaron's rookie card (card #128). Aaron is still considered by some to be the All-Time Home Run King (I agree). The 1953-1956 Topps sets are a bit short
compared to later Topps issues as Topps and Bowman Gum were rival card companies and some players were signed to exclusive contracts. This is why you sometimes have no
Topps Mickey Mantle cards from 1954-1955 or any Topps Ted Williams cards from 1951-1953 and 1959-1961. Stan Musial for some reason did not have a major baseball card
(Bowman or Topps) from 1954-1957. There are only 250 cards in the 1954 Topps set.
1955. Topps used a "horizontal" format for the first time. Again the cards featured a color "head shot" and a "in action" shot (this time in color). Otherwise very
similar to the 1954 Topps cards as far as use of color and the photographs. Key cards are Ted Williams, Willie Mays, Yogi Berra and Duke Snider (last card in
the set). This set also featured 3 key rookie cards: Roberto Clemente, Harmon Killebrew and Sandy Koufax. The Clemente rookie (#164) is easily the most
expensive card in the set as it was also included in the "high numbers." Another key rookie card is that of "The Golden Greek," Harry Agganis (card #152).
Agganis was a Boston legend and just starting his Red Sox career when he died suddenly in 1955. It was to be his only appearance in a mainstream baseball card
set. This was Topps smallest regular set, with only 206 cards.
1956. Topps bought rival gum maker Bowman so the Topps began it's long monopoly on bubble gum picture cards of baseball players. The 1956 Topps set
increased to 340 cards. Similar to the 1955 Topps cards except instead of colored backgrounds, the 1956 Topps cards featured a large color "in action" picture
with a large portrait in the foreground. The 1956 Topps set included the first Mickey Mantle card since 1953 and that card is the key card of the set. Other notable
cards include Ted Williams, Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente and Sandy Koufax's second year cards, rookie cards of Dodgers Manager Walt "Walter" Alston, Luis
Aparicio and Herb Score, and most of the stars of the day (Musial was still missing). Topps also printed some of the cards on different card stock- white or grey.
This Herb Score is just a terrific looking card. Score was Sandy Koufax before Sandy Koufax became "SANDY KOUFAX." As mentioned on the back of this card, the
Hall of Fame was waiting on this promising pitcher but it was not to be. Score was severely beaned by a comebacker line drive and he later hurt his arm (back then
when you hurt your arm you were through; this was way before "Tommy John" surgery). Score later became a Cleveland Indians broadcaster.
1957. 1957 Topps cards were the first "modern" sized baseball card (3-1/2" x 2-1/2"). The card size is still in use today for most cards. They featured uncluttered photographs that
are very attractive and some of the backgrounds feature historic baseball stadiums (most no longer around today). Key cards include #1 Ted Williams, #20 Hank Aaron (features a
reverse negative photograph; Aaron appears to be batting lefty but the real giveaway is his uniform number which is backwards), Mantle and Mays, Sandy Koufax and Roberto
Clemente. A nice selection of rookie cards include Jim Bunning, Rocky Colavito, Don Drysdale, Bill Mazeroski, Brooks Robinson, and Frank Robinson. Also included were team
cards and the first use of player "combination" cards (cards that combine two or more players). Two of these are Yankees Power Hitters (Berra and Mantle) and "Dodgers Sluggers"
(Campanella, Furillo, Hodges, Snider). Mickey Mantle's regular card a(#95) again dominates the set. There are different "variations" of the Mantle card. Most show a "shadow" of a
man running past Mantle. Topps artists airbrushed the man out but you can still make it out if you look close enough.
1958. Topps went back to solid colored backgrounds on it's 1958 Topps set. 1958 also marked the first appearance of Stan Musial on a Topps baseball card (card #472 Sporting
News All-Star). Topps again used team cards but for the first time they included "Sporting News All-Star" cards. So you have two different cards of Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle,
Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, etc. How exciting that must have been for the kids! The key card of the set is the always popular Mantle. Ted Williams' last regular card is the first card of
the set (#1, again). Williams signed an exclusive baseball card contract from 1959-1961 with Frank H. Fleer. Fleer even made an entire baseball card set dedicated to Williams in
1959! Combination cards were used again, some include Ted Williams with Ted Kluszewski and Willie Mays with Duke Snider. Rookie cards include Orlando Cepeda, Curt Flood
and Vada Pinson but the key rookie card is that of Roger Maris (card #47). Topps also inadvertently printed some cards with different colored (yellow or white) team names. This
makes for some exciting "variations." These variations include Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente, Al Kaline and more. The 1958 Topps #487 Mickey Mantle "Sporting News All-Star"
card was triple printed, thereby creating one of the most affordable 1950's Topps Mickey Mantle baseball cards. A real bargain!
1959. Topps chose to use a similar card format to their 1958 Football cards for the 1959 baseball issue. The player is featured in a circular photograph with solid colored backgrounds. These are very attractive
cards compared to the previous effort (1958). While Ted Williams is missing due to his contract with Fleer, Stan "The Man" Musial was included on his first regular card (#150). As with most Topps sets, Mickey
Mantle's card is the most popular (and expensive). Again you have team cards, combination cards, and included in the high series was another run of "Sporting News All-Star" cards (again the most expensive All-Star
card will be Mickey Mantle). New to a Topps set were special "Baseball Thrills" card featuring Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, Al Kaline, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Stan Musial, Duke Snider and more. A special card
was produced for the Dodgers Roy Campanella, whose career was ended after a terrible automobile accident prior to the Dodgers move to Los Angeles. The card is a tribute to "Campy" called "Symbol Of Courage"
and it was included in the high numbered series. Key rookie cards of George "Sparky" Anderson, Norm Cash (high number) and Bob Gibson (also a high number) lead the way. Ernie Banks won his second
consecutive Most Valuable Player Award in 1959 and this Ernie Banks card (card #350) is just a terrific looking card. Also Topps printed some cards with traded references included and not included. The cards with
no trade references are the scarcest to acquire. An interesting error card is that of Braves pitcher Lew Burdette. Not only is his name spelled "Lou," but he fooled the Topps photographer and posed throwing lefty
(Burdette was a right handed pitcher). Also of note: the background on some of the new "LA" Dodger cards. Featured on most of the Dodger cards is not Ebbetts Field, or Dodger Stadium (Dodger Stadium was not
finished for play until 1962) but rather the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum where the Dodgers played from 1958-1961. Beginning in 1959, Topps began producing card for the Venezuelan baseball fans. Venezuela
Topps cards were produced in 1959-1960, 1962, 1964, 1966-1968. There are subtle differences, notably inferior paper stock and poorer print quality but the Venezuela Topps cards are quite rare. They are even
more rare in high grade; most examples you find are in the Poor to VG grades.
1960. Topps used the horizontal format for the second time in 1960. These cards feature a large photograph and a smaller black & white photo on the front. The back
includes season highlights (if any). Topps created special "Rookie Stars" cards. Featured among them are rookie cards of Frank Howard, Jim Kaat, Willie McCovey and
Carl Yastrzemski. While Ted Williams is again missing (this was Williams final season) from the set, Stan Musial was back (card #250). Most of the big names are
there: Mantle, Mays, Koufax, Clemente, Aaron, Kaline, Banks, Killebrew, Drysdale, Snider, Hodges, Berra, Ford, Roberts, etc. Topps issued manager and coaches cards,
combination cards, team cards, World Series Highlight cards, and "Sport Magazine All-Star" cards (high series) as well. Terrific (and undervalued) set. Yastrzemski was
also included in the 1960 Venezuela Topps set, making it the "Holy Grail" for Yaz collectors.
1961. The year of Roger Maris breaking Babe Ruth's "unbreakable" 60 Home Run season. Topps chose to start the set off with the winners of the previous Most Valuable Player
Awards. So you have card #1 Dick Groat (1961 NL MVP) and card #2 Roger Maris (AL MVP). The Maris card is very difficult to find in high grade due to typical Topps centering
issues. The other "M" of the "M & M Boys," Mickey Mantle is card #300 in the set. The 1961 Topps high numbers are the scarcest of any Topps issue with the exception of 1952.
Included in the high numbered series were "Sporting News All-Star" cards. Key cards include a second year Carl Yastrzemski card (#487) as well as rookie cards of Juan Marichal,
Ron Santo, and Billy Williams. 1961 also marked the first year that Topps produced "League Leader" cards (card #44 AL Home Run Leaders features sluggers Mickey Mantle, Roger
Maris, and Rocky Colavito) and special "Highlight" cards. Special highlight cards included cards of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Rogers Hornsby, Bill Mazeroski and
Christy Mathewson to name a few. 1961 also marked the appearance of two new expansion teams: Los Angeles Angels and New York Mets (who went on to lose 120 games! "Can
anybody here play this game?" -Casey Stengel). Another Topps innovation in 1961 was special Most Valuable Player cards, featuring winners of the MVP Awards from 1951-1960.
Topps was not to do another MVP tribute until 1975. For the first time, Topps began inserting special baseball related products to promote sales. Commonly referred to as "inserts," the
1961 Topps inserts included a panel of 2 player "stamps" of the games top players. Topps also produced a special album to paste the stickers in.
1962. Topps chose a "wood grain" border for it's 1962 baseball set. The photo appears to be pasted on the wood and it is "lifted" up in the bottom right corner to reveal the player's
name, team and position. The card stock is fragile, thus any chipping or wear shows as "white" on the edges and corners of the 1962 Topps cards. These did not hold up very well over
the years so high grade examples are very much in demand. Topps chose to honor Roger Maris with the coveted #1 card after his historic 61 HR season in 1961. Personally, this is
my favorite Roger Maris Topps card. Topps included All-Star cards, League Leader cards, Team cards as in the past; however they also used for the first time special "in action" shots of
Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle, Tony Kubek, Whitey Ford, Warren Spahn, Harmon Killebrew, Rocky Colavito and more. Another new addition was special "MVP" cards featuring previous
Most Valuable Award Winners and also a "Babe Ruth Special" card set which included highlights of Ruth's career. Key rookie cards include Lou Brock, Gaylord Perry, Ken Hubbs, Dean
Chance, Joe Torre, Tim McCarver, Jim Bouton, "Sudden" Sam McDowell and comedian/ballplayer Bob Uecker. Early Wynn's last card is included in the set. Some interesting variations
make for some added fun- Topps printed some cards with a noticeable "green tint" and also there are several photograph variations. For instance card #190 Wally Moon was issued
with a close up of Moon without a cap on and the other has an entirely different photograph of Moon holding a bat from the waist up and he is wearing a ball cap. There are three
different cards numbered 139: Babe Ruth Special, Hal Reniff close up shot and Hal Reniff in a pitching pose. One of the best cards in the set is #140 "Ruth & Gehrig" which is an
affordable alternative to purchasing a Babe Ruth or Lou Gehrig baseball card from their playing days. For the second straight year Topps issued 2 stamp "panels" as inserts in the wax
packs. The 1962 Venezuela Topps cards were printed in Spanish on the card backs.
1963. I was born this particular year so these cards are special to me because I can collect these cards of these players who played when I was born. 1963 Topps cards feature
sharp colorful photography (especially compared the previous two years), brightly colored borders at the bottom (similar to the 1953 Topps cards ten years earlier), plus a smaller
in-action shot of the player. All the big stars are included. Featured in the 1963 Topps set is the last regular Topps cards of Richie Ashburn, Stan Musial and Gil Hodges (as a player)
as well as multi-player rookie cards of Pedro "Tony" Oliva, Willie Stargell and the most expensive card of the set, Pete Rose. The Rose rookie was included in the high numbered
series and is probably the 1960's most desirable rookie card. It was extensively counterfeited in the 1980's as card values soared. Also included in the high series are Duke Snider,
Roberto Clemente, and Harmon Killebrew (also a short print). The 1963 Topps set is probably the best looking set of the 1960's (right up there is the 1967 Topps set) but I'll go with
the '63 set. Another interesting card is that of card # Don Elston. The photo is not of Elston, but All-Star third baseman Ron Santo (a very inexpensive Ron Santo card). My personal
favorite card of this set is #210 Sandy Koufax who won the 1963 NL Cy Young AND MVP Award, plus two games against the Yankees in the 1963 World Series (including a
then record 15 strikeouts in Game 1 at Yankee Stadium) in route to the World's Championship. This is without a doubt Koufax's best looking card (with 1965 Topps #300 a close
second). Besides the gum, the 1963 Topps cards also featured peel off stickers of the game's top stars.
1964. Topps made it easy for collectors to collect their favorite teams by printing their cards with large team names at the top of each card. At the bottom is the player name and
position on a black background. The backs are somewhat orange in color with an "invisible" cartoon that you could see by rubbing with a coin. The set features rookie cards of
Richie ("Dick") Allen, Tony Conigliaro, Tommy John, Tony LaRussa, Lou Pinella, Rusty Staub, Phil Niekro, Jim Wynn. One of the key cards is the 2nd year card of Pete Rose, but
again Mickey Mantle's card is tops in the set. There are many combination cards throughout the set, the most impressive being card #331 A.L. BOMBERS featuring Norm Cash, Al
Kaline, Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris. Topps produced a IN MEMORIAM card (card #550) for Ken Hubbs, a promising young infielder for the Chicago Cubs. Hubbs was
killed in a plane crash. He was only 23 years old. Topps issued baseball "coins" in their wax packs featuring the game's top stars. The 1964 Venezuela Topps baseball cards are
similar with the exception of no gloss, poor card stock, and the card backs are black compared to the regular Topps cards (which are orange in color).
1965. Cards feature beautiful color photographs with team names in a small pennant near the bottom left corner. The backs are blue in color with a small cartoon. One of the World
Series Highlights card features Mickey Mantle hitting his last Series home run (card #134 World Series Game 3 MANTLE'S CLUTCH HR). Rookie cards include Denny McLain, Luis
Tiant and Hall of Famers Steve Carlton, Jim "Catfish" Hunter (misspelled "Tim" Hunter on card back), Joe Morgan and Tony Perez. Both the Hunter and Perez rookie cards were
included in the tougher high numbered series. Yogi Berra, Nellie Fox, Casey Stengel, Warren Spahn made their last appearance as a player on a Topps card in 1965. The most
expensive card in the set, as with most Topps sets, is Mickey Mantle (card #350). Inserted as a bonus in card packs were either "embossed" cards or transfers (depending on
series). Beginning in 1965, Topps began producing cards in Canada. The cards are very similar to the Topps cards but will have a "Printed In Canada" copyright on the back.
These cards are called "O-Pee-Chee" cards and they were produced in more limited quantities than the regular Topps cards. They are a separate issue in their own right.
1966. Topps led off the set with Willie Mays (card #1) as Mays had a monster season in 1964, winning the NL MVP Award. Interestingly, Topps also ended the set with another
Hall of Famer, Gaylord Perry. Rookie cards include Ferguson Jenkins and Don Sutton. The high numbered series includes some short printed cards, including Willie Davis, Denny
McLain, Jimmy Piersall, Robin Roberts (his last card), and Billy Williams. Topps was involved in a very embarrassing error card. Card #447 is supposed to be Dick Ellsworth but
Topps erroneously used a photo of Ken Hubbs, who perished in a plane crash in 1963. Topps did not know it at the time, but card #50 Sandy Koufax was to be his last regular
card. He retired after the 1966 World Series due to an arthritic elbow. He was featured the following year in some league leader cards but there was no regular Topps card of
Koufax. Top valued cards are (as usual) Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente, Sandy Koufax, and Pete Rose. Roger Maris' card (#365) is an uncorrected error as it lists
his birthyear as "1931 (Maris was born in 1934)." Topps inserted special "rub off" cards of top stars in individual packs. Again, Topps produced cards in Canada and Venezuela.
1967. Perhaps Topps' best looking cards (some would argue for the 1963 Topps set), the 1967 Topps set featured uncluttered sharp photography. Player names and position were printed in small black
format near the top border while the larger team names were boldly colored near the bottom border. Cards feature facsimile autographs of the players. Backs are green with cartoons. The 1967 Topps high
numbers are very tough and feature Rocky Colavito, Maury Wills (his first Topps card) and the Red Sox Team card. Two key rookie cards were included in the high series: Rod Carew and Tom Seaver. The
Tom Seaver rookie card (#581 Mets Rookie Stars) is the most valuable card in the set. Mickey Mantle (card #150) is featured as an outfielder for the last time (his final two cards were as a first baseman).
League leader cards feature Sandy Koufax, his last appearances as a player on a Topps card. Card #1 features a combination card with two Hall of Famers ("THE CHAMPS" Brooks and Frank Robinson, &
manager Hank Bauer, winners of the 1966 World Series). The Maury Wills card (card #570) is an interesting card as Wills finally agreed to sign a contract with Topps. Wills came up through the Detroit
Tigers farm system and Topps had chose to not sign Wills as a prospect. Wills became a Dodger, broke Ty Cobb's single season stolen base record and won the 1962 NL MVP. But he didn't sign with
Topps until 1967. Checklist cards include small pictures of top stars of the day, among them Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays. Yankees great Whitey Ford is pictured for the last time (card #5). Wax packs
not only included cards and gum, but also a Topps pin up of one of the game's top stars. A very rare proof card of Roger Maris exists. It has "YANKEES" on the card front instead of "CARDS" on the final
version as Maris had been traded. The back of the proof card is blank. Most of the Roger Maris "proof" cards show evidence of having been hand cut from a sheet. Topps also issued O-Pee-Chee cards in
Canda and Venezuela Topps card for the Venezuelan market. Generally, the O-Pee-Chee cards are scarcer than the regular Topps cards, with the Venezuela Topps cards are even tougher to find.
1968. Topps led off the 1968 Topps baseball set with League Leader cards. Most American League leader cards feature Carl Yastrzemski, who won the 1967 Triple Crown. "Yaz"
was featured on 3 different league leader cards, 2 checklist cards (with variations), a special World Series highlight card, All Star card, and his regular card (#250) for a total of 8
cards! The set features a sort of "burlap" border and a "mustard" color back. The '68 Topps set featured two key rookie cards, #177 Mets Rookie Stars (Jerry Koosman, Nolan Ryan),
and #247 Reds Rookie Stars (Johnny Bench). Rocky Colavito and Roger Maris were featured on their last regular Topps cards. Again Topps featured smaller pictures of stars on their
checklist cards. 1968 was the "Year of the Pitcher" with Cy Young AND MVP Awards going to Bob Gibson (card #100) and Denny McLain (card #45). Inserted in the Topps packs
in 1968 were baseball "game" cards featuring the game's top players. These are smaller than regular sized cards, with rounded corners and a "playing card" format, very similar to
Topps 1951 All-Star cards. Topps also produced (76) baseball cards that were included in a Milton Bradley board game called "Win-A-Card." These cards are almost identical to
regular Topps cards except for the backs which are a bright yellow compared to the "dirty" yellow color of the regular Topps cards. These variations are called "1968 Topps Milton
Bradley" cards and they are quite rare compared to the regular Topps cards. The 1968 O-Pee-Chee and Venezuela Topps set featured a Ryan rookie card as well so if you are an
"advanced" Nolan Ryan collector you are going to have to pick up 4 different Topps #177 Mets Rookie Stars (Jerry Koosman, Nolan Ryan) cards. The Venezuela Topps Ryan rookie
is by far the toughest to find, followed by O-Pee-Chee, Topps Milton Bradley, and the regular Topps card. Johhny Bench is also featured in the Venezuela Topps set but he was not
included in either the Topps Milton Bradley or O-Pee-Chee issues. 1968 was the last year for the Venezuela Topps cards.
1969. The last Topps set of the decade included the first card of Reggie Jackson (card #260) and the last hurrah for Mickey Mantle (card #500). Mantle had retired prior to the
1969 baseball season and it is noted on Mantle's last card. Also included are Mantle's complete statistics on back. To make this card even better, Topps printed some scarce "white
letter" variations on a few of the cards and Mantle's card was included. So while the regular Topps #500 Mickey Mantle has "Mantle" printed in yellow letters, the scarcer variation
has "Mantle" in white letters. Other "white letter" variations include Willie McCovey and Gaylord Perry. A classic error card is that of rookie third baseman Aurelio Rodriguez (card
#653). The card pictures not Rodriguez, but the Angels' bat boy Leonard Garcia. Other rookie cards besides Jackson are Rollie Fingers, Earl Weaver and Graig Nettles. Ken Boyer
and Don Drysdale are featured on their last cards as active players. Ted Williams (card #'s 539 Ted Shows How and #650) and Billy Martin returned to Topps baseball cards as
managers. The 1969 set included the first cards of four new franchises, the Montreal Expos, San Diego Padres, Seattle Pilots,and Kansas City Royals (the Athletics had moved to
Oakland). The Pilots lasted just two seasons so if you want Seattle Pilots cards you have the Topps cards from 1969, 1970, and that's all folks! O-Pee-Chee cards were issue in
Canada and these not only feature the "O-Pee-Chee" logo but the backs are a dark "radish" color compared to the regular "pinkish" backs of the regular Topps cards.
1970. 1970 Topps baseball cards featured grey borders. Being that the borders are not all that exciting, the posed photos are what really stands out. Backs are easy to read with blue
and yellow on white card stock. The first card is the previous years' World Champion New York Mets Team card. It features the "Amazin' Mets" and includes Manager Gil Hodges,
Coach Yogi Berra, Jerry Koosman, Tom Seaver, and a very young Nolan Ryan. Rookie cards include Thurman Munson, Bill Buckner, and "The Spaceman," Bill Lee. Card #21 A's
Rookie Stars features two players who would help the Oakland A's win 3 World Championships: Vida Blue and Gene Tenace. Two of the most expensive cards were included in the
high numbered series: Johnny Bench and Nolan Ryan. Other high numbers include Al Kaline, Ron Santo and Frank Robinson. The 1970 Topps baseball set also featured Playoff and
World Series highlight cards (World Series highlights included cards of Ryan and Seaver) as well as Sporting News All Star cards. Topps would not issue separate All-Star cards in a
regular set until 1974. All of the big names are here, Mays, Aaron, Clemente, Gibson, etc. as well as manager cards which feature Hall of Famers Walt Alston, Leo Durocher and Red
Schoendienst. My favorite card from this set is #630 Ernie Banks (see thumbnail image, left). The 1970 Topps card packs featured (depending on series) a poster, a Scratch Off
Game and also story booklets of the game's top stars. For the first time, O-Pee-Chee cards featured text in both English and French on the reverse.
1971. 1971 Topps baseball cards are my favorite set from the 1970's. They feature jet black borders so finding NM-MT or higher grades can present a challenge as the black edges show the tiniest bits of wear.
Team names are in large print in various bold colors, easy for sorting the cards. 1971 Topps baseball cards also featured for the first time actual game photography. One of the best examples of this is Thurman
Munson's second Topps card (#5) which shows him in a cloud of dust making a play at the plate. The Munson card is fairly expensive in NM and especially higher grades. Again the #1 card is the previous World
Champions, the Baltimore Orioles featuring Brooks and Frank Robinson, Jim Palmer, Boog Powell, Dave McNally and Manager Earl Weaver. Rookie cards include Dave Concepcion, Steve Garvey, Ted Simmons,
Bert Blyleven and a high numbered Rookie Outfielders card featuring Dusty Baker and Don Baylor. Key cards include Thurman Munson's 2nd card, Pete Rose, Johnnny Bench, Tom Seaver, Roberto Clemente, Nolan
Ryan, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Steve Carlton, etc. Ernie Banks is featured on his last card as an active player (card #525). Also appearing for the last time on a bubble gum card was Curt Flood. He had refused
a trade and took MLB to court about the reserve clause. Flood lost his case and was essentially "blacklisted" from baseball. He never appeared on another Topps card as a player. The high numbered series
included numerous short printed cards including Sparky Anderson, Denny McLain, Boog Powell, Ron Swoboda, Dick Allen, and Luis Aparicio. Senators cards were pictured for the last time; they moved to Texas
and became the Texas Rangers. Topps issued Baseball Coins in wax packs featuring most of the top players of the game. These included their own checklist and are considered a separate issue. Also included in
some series were the scratch off game cards that Topps had started the previous year. O-Pee-Chee cards featured the same card fronts as regular Topps cards, but did make notations of trades on some cards. The
card stock featured yellow and white backgrounds on the reverse, compared to Topps green and grey background. As such, the O-Pee-Chee cards are much easier to read.
1972. Another fine and colorful issue by Topps, the 1972 baseball set featured very creative team name designs in a wide variety of bright colors. Topps did not include game photography like they did in the
1971 set; however they did use game shots for their "In Action" cards, which was a new idea used by Topps. Most In-Action cards featured the game's top players and they followed immediately after the player's
regular card. In Action cards included Hank Aaron, Johnny Bench, Rod Carew, Roberto Clemente, Pete Rose and more. The backs of the some of the In Action cards featured puzzle pieces of star players. For the
first time Topps also included "Traded" cards, which were included in the high numbered series. These cards showed players that had been traded and have a "stamped" "TRADED" notation on the card fronts. Key
traded cards include Frank Robinson, Joe Morgan, Steve Carlton, and Denny McLain. It is interesting how Nolan Ryan was not included in the Traded series as Topps did include a Traded card of Jim Fregosi,
who was traded by the Angels for Nolan Ryan. Ryan of course went on to a Hall of Fame career starting with the Angels and finishing his career with the Texas Rangers. The #1 card is that of the Pittsburgh Pirates,
who had won the 1971 World Series vs. Baltimore. Another first for Topps was a special "Boyhood Photos of the Stars" cards. The 1972 Topps high numbers include Walt Alston, Bobby Murcer, Bobby Bonds,
Steve Garvey, Rod Carew and others. Rookie cards include Ron Cey, Dave Kingman, Charlie Hough, J.R. Richard, and Hall Of Fame catcher Carlton Fisk (card #79 Red Sox Rookie Stars with Cecil Cooper). The
final Topps cards of Hoyt Wilhelm and Bill Mazeroski were both included in the high series. Gil Hodges, longtime star of the Dodgers and later the manager of the Mets was pictured for the last time on a Topps
card as he died in April 1972. There is no mention of his death on the Topps card, but on the 1972 O-Pee-Chee Gil Hodges card there is a notation that Hodges passed away in April 1972 on the card front.
Texas Rangers cards appeared for the first time, as Texas had moved from Washington D.C. Ted Williams final card as a manger is card #510.
1973. The 1973 Topps set used both posed and game photography. The card design was very simple, which brings the picture as the main focus of the card. Topps chose as the number one card the top 3 All
Time Home Run Leaders (at the time, Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, & Willie Mays). At the time Ruth was still number one at 714, but Aaron was to break the mark the following year (1974) to become the All Time
HR Champ. Again Topps used "Boyhood Photos of the Stars" and World Series cards but for the first time they also included All-Time Leader cards which featured Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Walter Johnson, Ty
Cobb, Hank Aaron and others. 1973 also marked the last time Topps would issue cards in series; beginning in 1974 the baseball cards were issued all at the same time. The key card in the set is that of Mike
Schmidt, which was included in the high numbered series. Other rookies include Buddy Bell, Dave Lopes, Dwight Evans and Hall of Fame reliever Rich "Goose" Gossage. For the first time since 1960, Topps
included cards of coaches, which were included on the manager cards. The Cubs manager card features Coach Ernie Banks, the Indians manager card features both Rocky Colavito and Warren Spahn, and the
Dodgers Walt Alston manager card features coaches Jim "Junior" Gilliam and future Dodgers manager and Hall of Famer Tom Lasorda (his first appearance on a Topps card since 1953). Other manager cards
include Billy Martin, Yogi Berra, and Ed Mathews. There are also printing variations of the Manager/Coaches cards; some are printed with the coaches backgrounds in different colors. The last cards of Luis
Aparicio, Leo "The Lip" Durocher, Willie Mays, and Roberto Clemente are also included in the 1973 Topps set. Ted Williams makes his last appearance as a manager on the Texas Rangers Team card (#7).
Topps also produced a very small set of 1953 "reprint" cards. These are identical to the 1953 Topps cards but are standard size and the reprint cards also do not have the black or red at the bottom of the
card like the originals. The backs are different as well with text in green ink. Players included Hall of Famers Johnny Mize, Satchell Paige, and Jackie Robinson. Carl Furillo is also included but the photo is of
fellow Dodger Bill Antonello. Carl Furillo did not have a card produced by Topps in 1953 as he signed exclusively with Bowman Gum that year. Supposedly just 200 sets were produced, making these much
scarcer than Topps later reprints. Again, O-Pee-Chee cards were issued in Canada and are considerably scarcer than the regular Topps cards.
1974. The 1974 Topps cards were issued at the same time and for the first time in factory sets. They featured both posed and game action photography. The '74 Topps cards had the city and team names in
color coded "pennant flags." Card #1 featured "Home Run King" Hank Aaron as Aaron was to break Ruth's Home Run record early in 1974. While it was pretty much a sure thing, Topps printed the card
before Aaron actually hit the historic 715th HR. Lucky for Topps that Aaron came through. Topps didn't get lucky though on the rumor that the San Diego Padres were moving to Washington. They printed
"Washington," "Nat'l" cards on all the Padre player cards including the Padres team card. The Padres obviously didn't move to Washington so Topps did print regular San Diego Padres cards but the
"Washington" error/ variation cards are scarcer to acquire. Another interesting error card is # Jesus Alou who's position was not printed on some of his cards. Topps printed dual All-Star cards picturing both
the AL and NL All Stars (by position). My favorite of these is card #331 All Star Catchers which features two Hall of Fame Catchers, Johnny Bench and Carlton Fisk. This was the last time Topps had separate
All Star cards until 1982. Rookie cards in the '74 set include Ken Griffey, Bill Madlock, Dave Parker, Frank Tanana, Frank White and Hall of Famer Dave Winfield. Al Kaline (card #215) is pictured for the
last time as an active player. The 1974 Topps baseball set included a "Hank Aaron" tribute sub-set, which pictures all of Hammerin' Hank's Topps cards from 1954-1973. For the first time, Topps printed a
separate "Traded" series of cards. Featured in the traded series were cards of Dusty Baker, Lou Pinella, Ron Santo and Juan Marichal, pictured in their new uniforms. O-Pee-Chee cards featured white card
stock instead of the dark grey stock used on the backs of the regular Topps cards. Also the backs featured yellow highlight ink, instead of the green used by Topps.
1975. Featuring brightly colored borders and team names, the 1975 Topps baseball set included a great selection of rookie cards. Rookie cards include Keith Hernandez, Fred Lynn, Gary Carter, Jim
Rice, Robin Yount and George Brett, the key card of the set. With Rice's recent induction into Baseball's Hall of Fame, the '75 set features rookie cards of four different Hall of Famers. Topps chose to
lead off the set with Highlight cards. Featured among these are cards of Hank Aaron, Al Kaline, Bob Gibson and Nolan Ryan. All Star selections were noted by a "star" on the card fronts. The 1975
Topps set featured a tribute to players who had won The Most Valuable Player Awards from 1951 to 1974. Each card featured smaller images of the player's regular Topps card for that particular year.
Being that there was no 1955 Topps Roy Campanella (Campy was signed with Bowman that year) nor 1962 Topps Maury Wills (see 1967 Topps below) cards ever made, Topps had to "create" a
card for those years. The last cards of Bob Gibson, Harmon Killebrew and Ron Santo are in the '75 Topps set. Another interesting card is that of Herb Washington (card #407) which is the the only
Topps card of a non-position player (Washington is identified as a "Pinch Runner"). Another first for Topps was their 1975 Topps "Mini" issue. The 1975 Topps "Mini" cards are identical to the regular
Topps cards but are a bit smaller, measuring 2-1/4" x 3-1/8". They were issued as a "test issue" in limited areas, specifically Michigan and the West Coast. The 1975 set is considered very "condition
sensitive" due to the bright border showing the slightest bits of wear. High grade cards (MINT and better) are in demand and fetch huge premiums if graded by a reputable grading service. O-Pee-Chee
cards were issued in Canada and have better "eye-appeal" compared to regular Topps cards. This is because of the white card stock O-Pee-Chee used, compared to the typical grey stock used by
1976. Again, Topps led off the set with Highlight cards from the previous year. The number one card is a Record Breaker card of Hank Aaron (Most RBI's, career). Topps featured
League Leader cards, Championship and World Series cards and team cards, which were pretty typical for a Topps set. Topps did include a special "Sporting News All-Time Greats"
sub-set which included their picks for best players all time for each position. Included were cards of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Rogers Hornsby, Ted Williams and more. Topps also
included a special "Joe Garagiola Bazooka Bubble Gum Champion" card (#564) featuring winner Kurt Bevacqua ("who couldn't hit water if he fell out of a boat" - Tommy Lasorda)
blowing a mammoth bubble. Rookie cards include Lyman Bostock, Ron Guidry and Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley. The last card of Hank Aaron is in this set (card#550) as well as
Billy Williams, Tony Oliva, and Vada Pinson. Topps also printed a "Traded" series featuring the years biggest trades. Included in the traded series is Oscar Gamble, owner of one of
the biggest afro's you will ever see on a baseball card. Topps also produced a special Joe Garagiola card in 1976 for the NBC Announcer. The front featured a photo of Garagiola,
with the format borrowed from the 1973 Topps baseball set. The back had Joe's phone number at NBC as these were made for his use as "business cards." These were not issued in
packs of course, but Joe handed out quite a few of these and some you find autographed.
1977. The 1977 Topps cards featured some sharp photography. The card stock was not the best, and that coupled with typical Topps centering problems and you have the makings for another tough set to
acquire in strict MINT condition. The 1977 Topps set led off with League Leader cards. There was also special "Big League Brothers" cards, one of which featured George and Ken Brett. Another new topic for
Topps was a "Turn Back The Clock" sub-set which featured some great baseball highlights with players like Ralph Kiner, Maury Wills, and Carl Yastrzemski. Highlight cards include a card of Minnie Minoso
(card #232), who became the oldest player to hit safely in 1976. Cards of new expansion teams Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners appeared in the 1977 set. Key rookie cards include Jack Clark, Dennis
Martinez, Dale Murphy, Hall of Fame fireman Bruce Sutter and newest Hall of Fame inductee (2010) Andre Dawson. However the hottest rookie card back in 1977 was that of Mark "The Bird" Fidrych.
Fidrych was a drawing card everywhere he pitched and most of the time he did not disappoint, winning 19 games for the Tigers in 1976. Some very rare Topps proof cards exist from the 1977 Topps set, the
most expensive being Reggie Jackson (pictured as an Oriole; his regular Topps card features him as a Yankee). The last Jackson proof card sold in auction for $6000 in 2004.Topps also released a separate
issue called "Topps Cloth Stickers" which are identical to the Topps cards except they are printed on a "cloth-like" sticker which is blank backed. Topps also released some Topps stickers in their Venezuelan
Baseball stickers issue; these are printed on fragile paper with crude printing and typical to terrible centering problems. The backs are blank and most show evidence of having once been pasted to an album
(also provided by Topps). The Venezuela Topps Stickers are quite rare but featured are several Hall of Famers and stars, notably Reggie Jackson, Carlton Fisk, Joe Morgan, Lou Brock, Steve Carlton, Johnny
Bench, Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Carl Yastrzemski and others. The photos used are the same used on their regular Topps cards but the printing and paper stock are very poor. O-Pee-Chee produced a smaller
set this year and there are some noticeable differences on some of the cards fronts. Some feature images of different sizes than the Topps cards, and the O-Pee-Chee cards do not feature "All-Star" notations as
do the regular Topps cards.
1978. My least favorite Topps set of the 1970's. To me it's a rather dull set. However it does feature all the top players of the time like Fred Lynn, George Brett, Steve Carlton, Johnny
Bench, Carlton Fisk, Reggie Jackson, and Jim Rice who won the 1978 American League Most Valuable Player Award. Included in the set were typical League Leader and team cards.
Topps did include separate Manager cards, the first time since 1974. The fronts included two photos; one current photo as manager and another when the manager was a player.
Included were Hall of Fame Managers, Sparky Anderson, Tom Lasorda, Earl Weaver plus Billy Martin (who should be in the Hall of Fame as a manager). All Stars had a special red
white and blue "shield" identifying the player as an "All-Star." The key rookie cards in the set is that of Orioles Hall of Fame switch hitter Eddie Murray and a combination rookie card
that features Alan Trammell and Hall of Famer Paul Molitor (card #707 Rookie Shortstops). There is also a combination rookie pitchers card which features Jack Morris and a Rookie
Catchers card which features Dale Murphy (his 2nd card). I wish I could say more about this set but there is really nothing more to say. Except that 1978 was a forgettable year,
especially for Red Sox fans who watched in horror as Bucky "F#*$ing" Dent and the New York Yankees beat them in a one game playoff for the pennant (there was no "Wild Card"
format in 1978) at Fenway Park.
1979. Topps last effort of the 1970's was a good one. Good design and good photography. Photos dominate the card fronts, team names are in a "banner" design, with the "Topps"
logo very visible (usually the Topps logo was included on the back of the card). League Leader cards start off the set. The key card in the set is that of Ozzie Smith. It is a difficult card
to locate centered, even more difficult to find one centered and in MINT condition. Topps featured "All Time Leader" cards (card #'s 411-418), which included single season and
career Leader cards. Card number 413 has career HR King Hank Aaron along with the single season HR recordholder, Roger Maris. The Strikeout Leader card (#417) has Nolan
Ryan and Walter Johnson (who's all time record was later broken by Ryan). Also included were "Record Breaker" cards. The '79 Topps set also features the final card of Yankee
Captain Thurman Munson (card #310) as he was killed in a tragic plane accident that year. An interesting error card is that of Bump Wills (card #369), son of Dodgers great Maury
Wills. The error card shows him as being a Toronto Blue Jay, while the corrected version has him with the Texas Rangers. The 1979 Topps set has some serious centering issues, tilt
cuts and off centering are typical. Still a nice set featuring young stars like Eddie Murray, Andre Dawson, Paul Molitor and veteran stars like Johnny Bench, Carl Yastrzemski, Willie
Stargell, Nolan Ryan, Steve Carlton, Gaylord Perry, Fergie Jenkins, etc. Lou Brock is featured for the last time as an active player.
1980. A terrific way to start the 1980's for Topps was their 1980 Topps set. Featuring terrific photos and a great looking design the 1980 set is a classic. The set leads off with
Highlight cards, the first card featuring new 3,000 hit members Lou Brock and Carl Yastrzemski. The key card of the set is the rookie card of Rickey Henderson (card #482), the all-time
stolen base champ. The great Willie "Stretch" McCovey is featured on his last card as an active player. A rare proof of the New York Yankees team card exists, pictured is Billy Martin
who is not the manager pictured on the final version of the card. Dick Howser was made Yankees manager after Martin slugged a marshmallow salesman and was fired by Yankee boss
Geoge Steinbrenner. The Yankees proof card with Martin is blank backed and rare. It lists for $200, but I imagine it would sell for more than that if one came up for sale. The regular set
is full of affordable Hall of Famers and stars. True MINT condition cards are not too difficult from this set. Considered a "vintage" set today, the 1980 Topps cards offer a terrific way to
pick up Hall of Famers and your favorite stars for very affordable prices. Topps also produced a set for Pepsi Cola entitled "Pepsi Cola All Stars." Only 2 sets were produced and for
some reason they were never issued. However at least one set was released into the hobby and any of these cards are extremely RARE and expensive today. The Topps Vault also
introduced "Proof" cards of the 1980 Pepi Cola All Stars and these are RARE as well!
Epilogue. Topps lost it's baseball card monopoly in 1981. A lawsuit by rivals Donruss and Fleer allowed them to produce baseball cards in packs like Topps, except without the gum. The baseball card hobby
"exploded" in the 1980's with everyone trying to cash in. Like the sport of baseball itself, baseball cards became a "business." Myriads of card manufacturers popped up and printed billions of cards, so much so that
today these cards are essentially "worthless" to anyone except the die hard fan. There are so many of them, plus the fact that people became more aware of protecting cards (card holders and sleeves replaced shoe
boxes and rubber bands) so there is no shortage of "modern" cards, nor is there a shortage of modern "MINT" condition cards. So I chose to end this Topps tribute page with 1980 and the last year Topps was THE
brand if you wanted baseball cards. Keep in mind that these are Topps "regular" baseball cards. Not pictured are All-Star cards, combination cards, highlight cards, League Leader cards, Team cards, special or insert
cards, test issues, etc.
1948 Topps Magic Photo #13 Ty Cobb 1948 Topps Magic Photo #14 Lou Gehrig 1948 Topps Magic Photo #6 Babe Ruth
Before Topps' major 1952 release, they had already dabbled in the market with a few lesser known card sets. For instance, Topps first experimented with baseball cards in their 1948 Topps Magic set, which
included Boxers, Movie Stars and a few Baseball subjects (see Cobb, Gehrig, and Ruth cards pictured above). The small sepia images were self developed by kids by spitting on them and exposing the cards to
light. They must have been popular as Topps issued a similar set in the mid-1950's called "Topps Hocus Pocus."
In 1951 Topps broadened their scope and issued four different card issues: 1951 Topps Blue Backs & Red Backs, Team Cards, and two sets of (11) die cut All-Star cards. One set featured current
players, three of which were are considered extremely rare today ( Jim Konstantly, Robin Roberts, and Ed Stanky). The other Topps set was the 1952 Connie Mack's All-Time All-Star Team (see
Christy Mathewson & Tris Speaker cards above). Because these cards were not as widely released as Topps cards would be later, the 1952 Topps All-Star cards (both All-Time and Current) are quite
scarce today. To make it even tougher, these cards were mostly used as intended; the player's figure was die cut and the card was intended to be folded into a display. So surviving examples are
scarce (and expensive).
1948 Topps Magic Photos
1951 Topps Connie Mack's All-Time All-Star Team
1951 Topps Connie Mack's All-Time All-Star Team Christy Mathewson 1951 Topps Connie Mack's All-Time All-Star Team Tris Speaker
1962 Topps Baseball Salesman Panel
1962 Topps Baseball Salesman Panel
To encourage grocery and Five & Dime stores to carry Topps products, Topps would give these sample panels to their salespeople. These are very rare and in this 1962 Topps panel we have 3 Hall of Famers (Nellie
Fox, Sandy Koufax, Ed Mathews), plus Roger Maris, Tony Taylor, Frank Thomas, and Bill White. Also included is 1st Series Checklist. This example is in terrific shape. Sometimes you find these cut into "single" cards
but they are more valuable in original panel form.
1968 Topps Milton Bradley
1968 Topps Milton Bradley unopened cards from "Win A Card" Board Game
In 1968 Topps printed baseball, football and automobile cards for a Milton Bradley Board Game called "Win-A-Card." As you can see above, the card fronts are identical to 1968 Baseball and 1967 Topps Football cards. However
there are differences. I am not sure about the football cards, but the baseball cards have distinct bright yellow card backs. Regular 1968 Topps baseball cards have a sort of "dirty yellow" or mustard color to them. As such the 1968
Topps Milton Bradley baseball cards are considered separate issues in their own right. A lot of collectors are still not aware of these; in fact I have seen PSA cards graded as "1968 Topps" when actually they are 1968 Topps Milton
Bradley cards. Most of the top grading services now recognize the Topps Milton Bradley cards as a separate issue and will label them as such. These cards are much scarcer than regular Topps cards but being that they are still not as
widely known as regular Topps cards, there is no significant premium attached to them. But there should be. A common problem for these cards is centering issues. Note the above Tom Seaver, Brooks Robinson and Fred Biletnikoff cards;
they are all noticeably off center. I recently saw a complete 1968 Milton Bradley "Win-A-Card" board game that included above unopened cards. Asking price: over $6,000.00! Now as rare as a complete game is (most were raided of
the cards long ago), six grand sounds mighty steep to me, especially considering the centering issues of the above cards. But hey someone paid over $3 MILLION DOLLARS for the highest graded T206 Wagner (PSA 8 NM-MT) and that
card has a questionable history to say the least. Like the saying goes, there is a "sucker born every minute."
On a separate note, the 1968 Topps Milton Bradley cards are very special to me. They are the first cards I remember having. My dad brought home the game when we were kids. I remember having Hank Aaron, Ed Mathews, Jim
Davenport and Ed Brinkman. There were also car cards and football but I didn't care about those as much. I sold that first collection back around 1977 and was able to buy my first car with the money (a 1965 VW Bug that I later rolled
on the Glendale Fwy (2)). I currently have about 4 1968 Topps Milton Bradley baseball cards: Rocky Colavito, Jack Hamilton (mislabeled by PSA as a "regular" Topps card), Tom Seaver (courtesy of my friend in Ohio, Kevin Culum), and
Walt "No Neck" Williams. However the most expensive Milton Bradley card is Mets Rookie Stars (Jerry Koosman, Nolan Ryan) which just happens to be Nolan Ryan's rookie card. And Jerry Koosman was no slouch either. Expect to pay
a modest premium on that card if graded by a reputable grading service. So if you are an advanced Nolan Ryan collector, you are going to need 4 different Nolan Ryan rookie cards from 1968: 1968 Topps #187 (regular card), 1968
Topps Milton Bradley, 1968 O-Pee-Chee (Topps counterpart issued in Canada; these have different colored backs as well, plus a "Printed In Canada" copyright), and 1968 Venezuela Topps, which is extremely rare in any condition
(highest known grade is a PSA 5 EX). Good luck! For more on Topps Milton Bradley and other obscure Topps issues, see our ODDBALL PAGE!
1982 Topps photograph Fred Lynn (from the Topps Vault)
1975 Topps #500 Nolan Ryan 1975 Topps Mini #500 Nolan Ryan
From 1956 through 1980, Topps Chewing Gum (makers of Bazooka Bubble Gum) pretty much had a monopoly on bubble gum baseball picture cards. And you have to give Topps credit. Every year they seemed to come up
with something different. For longtime collectors you can just look at the above Nolan Ryan Topps cards and know without hesitation what year the card was issued. The 1975 Topps set featured brightly colored borders,
large color coded team names (every team had it's own "color"), facsimile player autographs, and the player's position was listed in a small "baseball" in the lower right corner. Topps also was innovative in test issues and in
1975 they produced not only a standard size regular baseball set, but also a set of smaller sized cards (commonly called "Mini" today) which were issued in limited areas as a test issue. The smaller size cards were somewhat
of a departure from Topps' inaugural 1952 "GIANT" size cards (as Topps called them), and in fact Topps large sized cards helped put the smaller Bowman Gum cards out of business (though to it's credit, Bowman Gum did
issue larger sized cards in 1953-1955). The 1975 Topps Mini cards were (and still are) popular but Topps did not issue "Mini" cards again until the late 1980's. At one time the 1975 Topps Mini cards were listed at twice
the prices of the regular Topps cards but today they are both pretty similar in price.
A wee bit about O-Pee-Chee Cards...
1971 O-Pee-Chee #220 Ron Santo 1971 Topps #220 Ron Santo
Back views (O-Pee-Chee top, Topps bottom)
Much scarcer than Topps cards are "O-Pee-Chee" cards, which are basically Topps cards printed in Canada. While production figures are not known, they are in fact
much scarcer than the Topps cards here. Just check out any population reports from PSA or SGC and you will see a big difference in numbers. Topps began producing
O-Pee-Chee cards in 1965 and continued up through the early 1990's. While the OPC cards appear the same, there are usually ways to tell them apart. For instance the
1965-67 OPC cards have a "Printed in Canada" near the copyright on the card back. Beginning in 1968, OPC also began using different color backs than the Topps
cards. Starting in 1970, OPC cards were also printed in both English and French. Different card stock was also used. So there are ways to tell. Here are a couple of
examples; note the fronts of these 1971 #220 Ron Santo cards are identical. However flip 'em over and you can see a big difference. O-Pee-Chee used a yellow
background in 1971, while Topps used green. Also note the text on the OPC card is printed in both English and French as well as the "Printed In Canada" near the
"T.C.G. (Topps Chewing Gum)" copyright.
| 1980 Topps #580 Nolan Ryan 1980 O-Pee-Chee #580 Nolan Ryan 1980 O-Pee-Chee #580 Nolan Ryan (back view)
Another unique feature of O-Pee-Chee cards is that being they were issued later than Topps, O-Pee-Chee could sometimes show players who had gone to a new team. For instance this 1980 Topps #580 Nolan Ryan card
(above left) shows him with the Angels. Ryan signed as a Free Agent with the Houston Astros after Topps had already printed their cards. Hence O-Pee-Chee was able to make a notation ("Now With Astros") as well as
putting in Ryan's new team name (Astros) on the front of the 1980 O-Pee-Chee #580 Nolan Ryan (above center). Also note the back (above right) of the O-Pee-Chee card; text in both English and French as well as a "1980
O-Pee-Chee Printed in Canada" copyright. The team name on back has also been changed to show Ryan's new team. Below are more examples of some variations between O-Pee-Chee and Topps cards.
1977 O-Pee-Chee #163 Fred Lynn 1977 Topps #210 Fred Lynn
In 1977, O-Pee-Chee cut it's set to a smaller size than Topps (264 cards compared to Topps 660-card set). While again the fronts appear identical (see above), O-Pee-Chee deleted any "All Star" references allowing for a larger photograph. Many
photos are airbrushed to show player's new teams and the card numbers are completely different. While the O-Pee-Chee cards are scarcer, they do not usually sell for much more than the Topps cards. Why? Most collector's here still prefer Topps.
Personally I like the fact that the O-Pee-Chee cards were printed in more limited quantities. I also like the card stock O-Pee-Chee used because if the picture is registered the colors really stand out on the OPC cards. Also because O-Pee-Chee cards used
mostly white card stock, the backs are much easier to read than the Topps cards (which typically used grey cardboard stock). One drawback to O-Pee-Chee cards is that the cutting machines they used would sometimes make "rough" cuts instead a
smooth straight cut. Of course both O-Pee-Chee and Topps had quality control issues, most notably centering issues. You have to remember that back in "the old days" cards were not supposed to be "worth" anything. They were used as promotions to
get you to buy gum, candy and yes, even EVIL, cancer-causing cigarettes! But hey, if you love baseball and baseball cards it really shouldn't be about perfect "GEM MINT" cards. It really is not about that at all. Do you hear me PSA???
Another interesting O-Pee-Chee card is 1972 OPC #465 Gil Hodges. Hodges should be a Hall of Famer as both a player and Manager but that is another story. Topps had already issued it's cards prior to the 1972 baseball season. But Hodges
had died prior to Opening Day of a heart attack while playing golf. He was only 47 years old, the age I am right now (how depressing). O-Pee-Chee issued their cards later so on the Gil Hodges card they made a notation of his passing (see above,
right). I have a lot to say about Gil Hodges. For more on the great Dodgers slugger check out our own HALL OF FAME PAGE!
As the saying goes, "all good things must come to an end." So it was with O-Pee-Chee, Topps and yes, even the game itself. Yes, Topps still makes baseball cards (without gum even) but like the game, it is shiny and glitzy but lacks substance. The old
cards were treasured pieces of cardboard of our favorite baseball heroes; newer cards (to me) remind me that it is not so much a game as it is a business. Why do I want to pay hundreds of dollars for the "next" Johnny Bench, Sandy Koufax, or Mickey
Mantle, when I can buy a vintage card of the real deal for probably less? Go figure. You may have your opinion about this but that is mine. Hope you enjoyed this page!
1972 Topps #465 Gil Hodges 1972 O-Pee-Chee #465 Gil Hodges
1973 Topps 1953 Reprints
Topps not only produced a regular set of cards every year, but they were also busy creating "test" issues to try out new products. Topps experimented with "Magic photos" where you could watch an image appear on a
card by spitting or wetting it. This was in 1948, four years prior to Topps' first "regular" baseball card set in 1952. Many test issues were created by Topps including (but not limited to) large Team cards, game cards,
Cloth Stickers, tattoos, transfers, game cards, candy lids, 4-in-1 stickers, Topps Banquet cards (given out at Topps' banquets), Posters, Puzzles, Comics, and many more. In 1973 Topps re-created a rare set of cards using
the original artwork for the 1953 Topps cards. This small set of 8 cards included Hall of Famers Johnny Mize, Satchel Paige, and Jackie Robinson plus other stars like Carl Furillo and Al Rosen. These sets were
printed in extremely limited supplies (approx. 200) for a Topps Banquet. They are standard size cards, a bit smaller than the 1953 originals. The fronts do not have the black or red colored panels with player & team
names like the original cards either. The backs are different as well, with biographies in green ink. Also of interest is the fact that there are 3 error cards in this 8-card set. Carl Furillo did not appear in the 1953 Topps set
but his 1973 Topps '53 Reprint card pictures Joe Antonello. Al Rosen's card did appear in the 1953 set but his 1973 reprint card pictures Jim Fridley. And Clyde McCullough's reprint card pictures Vic Janowicz. Why
Topps did this is beyond me but they do make for interesting cards. Decades later Topps reprinted many of their card sets including the 1953 Topps set, and while these feature standard size cards, high gloss, and are
very shiny, they somehow pale in comparison to the original cards, even these earlier "reprints."
I will be adding more Topps issues shortly. Also for more Topps Test issues see our ODDBALL PAGE!
1973 Topps 1953 Reprint #1 Satchell Paige 1973 Topps 1953 Reprint #2 Jackie Robinson 1973 Topps '53 Reprint #4 Al Rosen (photo actually Jim Fridley)