The 1964 Bazooka set marked the sixth consecutive set of baseball cards produced by the chewing gum company. But while much about it remained the same from past issues, much changed as well.
For the second straight year, the individual blank-backed cards measured a smaller size from the earlier issues. 1964’s edition measured approximately 1 1/2″ x 2 1/2″ – slightly smaller than the approximate 1 3/4″ x 2 3/4″ cards from 1960 – 1962. The company stuck with the same three-card panel theme, printing the cards on the bottoms of their gum boxes.
The color images of players with their name and team name at the bottom remained a staple of the Bazooka set and returned for this edition. Also sticking with the 1963 theme, Bazooka printed a card number on the bottom. With the name, team and position in a similar oval-type shape, it can also be difficult for collectors to tell these apart from the 1963 edition – both of which included 36 cards.
As usual, Bazooka included a strong lineup of players. Those with cards in the set included Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Warren Spahn, Harmon Killebrew, Roberto Clemente, Carl Yastrzemski, Billy Williams, Willie McCovey, Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Sandy Koufax, and Al Kaline, among others. For Williams and McCovey in particular, it was their first Bazooka issue.
The 1964 Bazooka set didn’t include any of the major rookies from that year, including Phil Niekro, Tony LaRussa, or Lou Piniella. And while many stars were included, the issue left out numerous others, such as Pete Rose, Eddie Mathews, Ernie Banks, Duke Snider, Roger Maris, Juan Marichal, Willie Stargell, Bob Gibson, Orlando Cepeda, and many others. Stay tuned, though – we’ll get to some of these guys in a second.
While much remained the same about this Bazooka issue in comparing it to others, the big noticeable difference was the addition of sheets of stamps. Bazooka inserted sheets of stamps inside its boxes. The stamps were actually produced by Topps, but distributed only in Bazooka’s product. Similar to the cards, the 1964 Bazooka stamps included a host of stars, such as Mantle, Aaron, Mays, and more. The individual stamps are 1″ x 1 1/2″ and were distributed with ten per sheet.
One nice thing about the addition of the stamps is that it allowed many more players to be included. Remember some of those players I mentioned above that were left out? While some of them, such as Banks, Marichal, Cepeda, Mathews, and a host of others were left out of the card set, they were included in the stamp sheets.
The 1964 Bazooka cards are another scarce issue but a little more reasonably priced than some of its predecessors. Hall of Famers often sell at well under $100 if not professionally graded and even the most important card, the Mantle, is often within reach (and far more scarce than the regular Topps card). An ungraded specimen recently sold for $150 at auction.
Complete, uncut panel sets are, of course, the most desirable and nicer ones can stretch into four figures.
If the cards are a bit out of your price range, you might consider pursuing a collection of the stamps. While sets are still expensive (one recently sold for just over $1,400), they are still a little cheaper on a per item basis, considering the stamp set contains approximately three times as many subjects as the cards. Common individual stamps have sold for under $10.
1964 Bazooka Checklist
Here’s a full checklist of the card set:
Panel 1 – Mickey Mantle, Dick Groat, Steve Barber
Panel 2 – Ken McBride, Warren Spahn, Bob Friend
Panel 3 – Harmon Killebrew, Dick Farrell, Hank Aaron
Panel 4 – Rich Rollins, Jim Gentile, Willie Mays
Panel 6 – Carl Yastrzemski, Billy Williams, Johnny Romano
Panel 7 – Jim Maloney, Norm Cash, Willie McCovey
Panel 8 – Jim Fregosi, George Altman, Floyd Robinson
Panel 9 – Chuck Hinton, Ron Hunt, Gary Peters
Panel 10 – Dick Ellsworth, Elston Howard, Brooks Robinson
Panel 11 – Frank Robinson, Sandy Koufax, Rocky Colavito
Panel 12 – Al Kaline, Ken Boyer, Tommy Davis