Saturday, October 23, 2010

Card back countdown: #27 - 1969 Topps


There are two "motherlode" card moments from my youth. The biggest was the acquisition of nearly a third of the 1956 Topps set.

The other was acquiring several 1969 Topps cards. My brothers and I obtained them the same way that we obtained the '56 Topps cards. They were hand-me-downs.

A friend of ours had a brother who was almost 10 years older than him. The older brother was off to college and decided he didn't need the cards he collected as a kid. So he gave him to his brother and somehow they ended up in our hands (our friend was a manic Yankee fan, so I believe we were able to trade our late '70s Yankees for some sweet 1969 cards). I distinctly remember sitting on the porch of another friend's house and transacting with a bunch of '69 Topps spread all over the porch floor.

These were the first 1969 Topps cards I ever saw, as I was barely out of toddlerhood in '69. And it was the first time we saw "old" cards in that kind of quantity. It was mind-blowing.

I ended up with about 50 cards from that set that came from my friend. It was such a significant moment from my first collecting period that I am semi-reluctant to give up any of those 50 in trades. Sometimes I do. But then I always attempt to reacquire that card soon afterward.

The Chris Short card is one of those cards. I had never heard of Short on that day we first saw those cards. But after turning over the card, viewing the stats, seeing a 20-win season, and appreciating any kind of Phillies card, I immediately made him one of my favorite pitchers from the '60s. Unlike most of the initial 50 that I acquired, I have traded this card away only once. I don't plan to trade it away again.

But that's a lot of talking about a card set without talking about the back. So here is the back:


Yes, it's pink. But you knew that already.

I'm not holding that fact against 1969 Topps. We did think it was very strange when we saw the cards for the first time (keep in mind we collected in the '70s when all the card backs were dark). But today, I find it different and unique.

It you look through the Topps sets of the 1960s, starting with '63 or so, all the card backs are BRIGHT, but use different colors each year. I like that.

In fact, because the card back is pink, I have rated it slightly higher than the 1970 set. The two sets are very similar in their card backs, but '69's daring color decision puts it one step ahead.


Like the 1970 set, the 1969 set devotes a lot of space to the cartoon, which is a major plus.


And like the 1970 set, the cartoon shrinks (or grows) depending on how many years a player had been in the league.


Also, like the 1970 set, there is no cartoon if a player had a long career. This is a major drawback for this set and any other set that did this. The most famous players in the set received the most boring card backs! Even the write-ups were brief! Booooo!


The card backs came in different shades of pink, as you can see by this one. I'm not sure if that is because a lot of the backs faded over time, or if there was some tinting issue that year.

Also, you must dig the old-school Topps logo (note that the Kaline card doesn't even have the Topps logo!)

Even though I never collected this set, it holds a lot of memories and some of those are associated with the card backs. By the way, it would be very cool if Topps came out with some '60s-like card backs again.

Best of the set:


I haven't mentioned the manager cards in the set, yet, but I think they're the best part of the 1969 set of all. Each one featured a sketch-like depiction of the manager.

And out of all the manager cards, I can't help but make Sparky the best of the bunch. He won six pennants for the Dodgers (actually seven by the time he was through)!

(previous card back countdown selections):

50. 1978 SSPC Yankee Yearbook
49. 1993 Score
48. 1999 Skybox Thunder
47. 2000 Upper Deck
46. 1999 Skybox Premium
45. 1953 Johnston Cookies Braves
44. 1995 Topps
43. 1997 Fleer
42. 1992 Pinnacle
41. 1989 Bowman
40. 1977 Kellogg's
39. 2004 Topps
38. 2004 Topps Total
37. 1992 Topps
36. 1992 Donruss
35. 2008 Upper Deck Documentary
34. 1963 Fleer
33. 1955 Bowman
32. 2006 Topps
31. 1961 Topps
30. 1955 Topps
29. 1967 Topps
28. 1970 Topps

1 comment:

  1. I was told that Topps that went with the pink backs to blend with the gum... I don't remember who told me that - it was probably 30 years ago, but I haven't forgotten it...

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