Friday, January 11, 2019

A double stack from 50 years back

Before I even saw the 1950s cards in the giant box of goodness that Jonathan sent my way, I couldn't help but spot nearly an entire row of cards from a mere half century ago.

You have to notice the bright pink backs of 1969 Topps and the stately gray borders of 1970 Topps (yes, I'm taking the high road and going with "stately" instead of "boring").

And there were so many of them!

How many?

This many:

That is two stacks of Topps cards from 1969 and 1970. About 250 of each, a little less of 1970 than 1969.

It seems a bit odd to say that these sets are 50 years old. Even though I thought 1969 Topps was ANCIENT when a few came my way when I was a kid, the set appeared a mere five years before I started collecting.

But I've since hit the half-century mark myself, so I need to face reality and realize that the start of my collecting journey is getting close to 50 years long. The world keeps on turning.

I've never made a serious commitment to collecting 1969 Topps. Those first few '69 cards in my collection were strange birds from an earlier age, dudes with black caps and no logos or no caps at all. Wacky names like the Senators and the Pilots. And very un-70s haircuts.

But the '69 set did visit me during my formative collecting years, so I can't help but grab some of the set when I get the chance. Most of the cards that Jonathan sent are in rather good shape and will fit into my collection nicely. Also, he included several notables, not your average "whoo'zhe" commons.

That's Sparky Lyle's rookie card.

That's Freddie Patek's rookie card.

Those are two cards with star after star after star.

And that's a group of guys who are opposed to hats. Sorry, I got off track there, but I need to keep it real. The 1969 set is filled with cards like this. I still can't imagine collecting these as a kid, but I guess if that's what you had, you made do. Kind of like prison food.

Yeah, many more hatless dudes. It doesn't just stop at the first nine. I could go on like this for a little bit and these are just from the 250 or so that Jonathan sent.

OK, I guess that's enough. You get the idea, right? Collect at your own risk.

Topps' sets 50 years ago suffered because of the baseball atmosphere at the time. Players weren't agreeing to pose for photos in a bid to gain their fair share for showing their faces on cardboard. And then there were those expansion teams. And then trades and such.

Topps started pulling photos from five years prior and putting them in the set and also doing this stuff:

Blacking out team logos was the single strangest thing I saw in 1960s cards when I was a kid. Buzzcuts were weird but my mid-1970s cards at least made the attempt to draw a logo on the cap. I scrunched up my nose at these.

Which is better, caps with no logos are these dudes who may or may not be ballplayers? I don't know if I can choose.

The positive aspect of this is that it makes the 1969 Topps cards in which the players DO wear hats and DO feature logos much more appealing.

That's just a solid card. Imagine an entire 1969 set of cards that looked like this.

There is another one.

And, of course, this one.

The '69 set's foibles can be plenty of fun, too. I enjoy these four because all of them are wearing a Dodgers uniform.

Topps isn't fooling anyone with these, though. We all know they are Yankees.

Sometimes the lack of a cap works to the featured person's advantage when they are blessed with a fabulous head of hair.

And then there is the card that should be a meme.

That set celebrating its 50th anniversary was weird and, OK, a little bit wonderful as it displayed the final moments of '60s fashion.

And tried to find a way around that blasted name circle.

Someday, perhaps, you will see a want list for this set -- when a number of my more pressing desires are completed. But I'm happy to build upon one of the reminders of my childhood collecting days, the first moments of me reaching backward to see what cards were like "long ago."

A few more men without hats.

The 1970 Topps set, meanwhile, I am just starting to collect. No want list yet, but this pushes me toward one (Topps was incapable of spelling "squeaker" in the '70s).

The 1970 cards Jonathan sent featured even more star power than the '69 cards. I was also happy to see some of the higher-numbered cards in the box because I'm starting to get higher-number-itis.

How about that?

I owned that Seaver card once but traded it away. Now it's come back to me with an aborted attempt to color in "Mets". I'm pretty happy with it. Also, the Harmon Killebrew is my first '70 Topps Killebrew without his autograph.

I smiled when these showed up. I've always been fascinated that Topps used the same format for the all-stars in 1970 that it did in 1961, only with gray borders. Aaron and Robinson even were in the '61 set!

No one ever shows the backs. This gives you an idea of what should be on the back of the All-Stars in 2019 Heritage. Let's see if Topps steps up to the plate with these, unlike with the manager cards in 2018 Heritage.

I would love to know how long it took for these two teams to play each other in 1970. Did they even fill the stadium?

This card is awesome because Dick Hall has body guards.

This post has gone on for long enough. So here are several more stars from the package.

Oh ...

A few more men without hats.

(P.S.: still not done with this big box of cards).


  1. Wow! Wow! Jonathan must be the greatest guy ever to send you all this goodness. I agree the 69 cards leave a lot to be desired, but they are still great cards just for the time period alone. The 70 cards are even greater. Scanning down and seeing Killebrew, Stargell and Seaver in a row - like you said "how about that?" Thanks for scanning all these. This is one of your best.

  2. Awesome haul! My wife gave a big laugh over "kind of like prison food".

  3. Wow, that's an amazing pile of cards to make your way through!

  4. 3 capless years in a row (67-68-69):
    Dick Ellsworth
    Don Lock
    Lee Maye
    Willie Smith

    (and that's just off the top of my head)

    1. Zoilo Versalles (68-69-70). Not off the top of my head. You made me look. Same photo for 69 and 70.

    2. Yes and as I recall, he needed a shave!

      (Night Owl prolly has fond memories of Versalles' time with the Dodgers!) :D

  5. I used to wonder if anyone at Topps ever thought to back-load the 1969 expansion team players' cards into the later series, so that half-decent photos could be obtained in spring training for their cards.

    (Same for 1966 Braves and Angels, and 1968 Athletics.)

  6. omg, I so love 1969 Topps (I'm only five high-$ cards away from completing that set--I even have half of the white-letter variations). To see these cards written about in a NOC post, in a word, groovy!

  7. I am pretty sure I have never seen Sparky Anderson look sinister ever before.

    But I am starting to see stadiums in those cards - real MLB stadiums - not Florida stadiums. Thanks for all the scanning!

  8. 69T might just be the greatest set of all-time if you're into hairstyles. And those 70T TSN All-Stars are sweet... especially the card backs!

  9. I'm not a fan of either set but I've been acquiring more 1970 cards than I ever though I would. And I'm amazed at Jonathan's generosity.

  10. I recently got the Alou All-Star myself. When I saw the back I really thought that was Snoopy for a minute. (The body and legs of the cartoon look just like him).

    Needless to say I'm interested in any dupes and am ready to fill in some of your wants . . .

  11. Does this mean you are now working on these sets as well.

    1. I'm starting work on the 1970 set. I'm not serious about the '69 set (yet), but I'll gladly take cards.

  12. Astonishing batch of cards there. Those TSN cards are amongst my favorites.

  13. Reminds me of the one collection that was bestowed upon me back in the day. A huge lot of 1970 Topps in OK condition from a relative of a family friend. Had most of the stars and everything. I still have some of the dupes.

  14. Andy Kosco fooled you! He's in a Twins uniform, not Yankees. Check out his '67 Topps card.