You can almost picture the scene. The newspaper spread out on the living room floor, revealing the box scores from the night before and maybe a game story. A bubble gum chewing kid toying with the wrapper as the incredible chase played out once
more. Maris hit another one? Mantle too?! Sitting nearby, the “big box” of Bazooka, with pictures of summertime heroes on the back. The 1961 Bazooka baseball card set kept youngsters busy when the mainstream Topps cards weren’t.
It was the third year Bazooka had put athletes on the back of its boxes—the second year for a baseball only set. Once again, each box had three cards on the back, separated by dotted lines meant as a guide for cutting them out. There were 36 in all and with only 12 different panels on store shelves, that was pretty easy to deduce.
Some cards were butchered by young hands not quite adept at handling a scissors. A few kids cut the whole panel and today, those carry a big premium. Some empty boxes were lost to moms anxious to get the trash out.
Maris and Mantle, fresh off sparkling seasons, are in the set but so are ten other Hall of Famers including Willie Mays, Ernie Banks, Eddie Mathews, Warren Spahn and Al Kaline. Three panels have two inductees on them: Mantle with Ron Santo and Art Mahaffey; Kaline and Banks with Ed Bailey and Mays with Bill Mazeroski along with Jim Perry.
The individual cards measure 1 13/16” by 2 /34”.
Like most panel type sets with dotted lines separating the images, many wind up being graded ‘Authentic’ unless those lines are visible on each side. Yet those that do carry higher numerical grades don’t sell for as large of a premium as one would think.
When compared to the numbers of existing 1961 Topps cards, the ’61 Bazooka set looks like a bargain.
Most commons—even graded examples—sell for less than 20 bucks. Ungraded singles are often just a few dollars. Mantle is the most expensive card in the set. A rare PSA 8 example sold for $900 in early March. A PSA 6 brought $312 in January. An SGC 84 (7) Maris brought $145. A PSA 7 Mays cost the buyer just $135. Most graded Hall of Famers cost less than $80.
Full panels are often high grade and those with stars do sometimes sell for a few hundred dollars.
Sales of complete sets are not common but in 2013, a complete panel set sold for over $2,200.
You can see 1961 Bazooka baseball cards and panels on eBay here.