Baseball cards were once a staple on the back of Bazooka bubble gum boxes. From the late 1950s through 1971, kids could count on the stars of the day showing up on the back, ready for the scissors with dotted lines to guide young hands. Topps changed the format of its Bazooka cards after the debut issue of 1959, replacing the single card full panel with a back that featured a trio of players. The 1960 Bazooka set includes a total of 12 three-card panels or 36 cards in all.
Like all of the Bazooka sets, the 1960 issue is full of Hall of Famers but the cards are much easier to find and less expensive than those in the larger size debut set. The first card in the series is Ernie Banks and virtually every panel has at least one big name. Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays and Roberto Clemente are featured and all command large premiums. A PSA 10 Bazooka Mays sold last month for $1,632 but most ungraded Bazooka cards are actually fairly reasonably priced considering the relatively small number of surviving examples compared to their Topps or Fleer counterparts from the same era.
The three-card format continued for the next several years, with the player’s name, team and position below each player’s photo. The backs of the cards are simply the inside of the box and have no statistical or biographical information.
While collectors today prefer the cards that were cut into panels by kids and their parents back in the day, single cards are a more affordable way to collect them and the grading services to authenticate and grade the single cards as well. Panel sets don’t often come on the market but command a premium, especially in high grade. Complete panel sets can range from $1,000 to $3,000 depending on condition.
The uncut panels measure about 2 3/4 by 5 1/2 inches. If cut just outside the border into single cards, each measures about 1 13/16 by 2 3/4 inches.
A Mantle single carrying an ‘Authentic’ label from PSA sold last month for $325. A PSA 7 Colavito brought $200. Ungraded Clemente cards from the ’60 Bazooka sets usually sell for around $100-125 without creases or other issues. Commons and minor stars can be had for $20-40. Lower grade cards are even cheaper.
You won’t find Sandy Koufax or Stan Musial in the set and Roger Maris makes his debut in the 1961 Bazooka set.
A few dozen 1960 Bazooka cards are usually available on eBay. Click here to see them.
Here’s a look at the 1960 Bazooka Baseball checklist: