In the 1960s the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox teamed up with a pizza company to produce unique collectibles. Today, the 1966 and 1967 Pro’s Pizza issues are hard to come by. As a result, these are a relatively pricey vintage issue.
1966 was the beginning of the Pro’s Pizza issues. The oversized ‘cards’ were printed on the boxes of pizza believed to be sold at only Wrigley Field. The cards are the shape of a square and measure about 6″ x 6″, according to the Standard Catalog of Vintage Baseball Cards.
The images were printed in black and white and featured only members of the Chicago Cubs. The cards much more difficult to find than the 1967 issues, so even the commons are heavily desired by collectors. But the stars of the set, Ernie Banks, Fergie Jenkins, Ron Santo, and Billy Williams, are the keys to the 16-card release. For many years, it was assumed there were only 16 cards in the set. However, a few years ago, four more 1966 cards were found bringing the total to 20.
Pro’s Pizza Cards Expand and End in 1967
In 1967, Pro’s Pizza returned with a pair of sets – one in black and white and one in color. This time, the Chicago White Sox got in on the act. The 1967 black and white issue was eerily similar to the 1966 cards as they had the same style of design.
Another difference in 1967 is that, while the set now included two teams, there were actually fewer cards than the year before. Only ten cards were included in the black and white set and the three key cards, Banks, Santo, and Williams, were all Cubs.
Pro’s Pizza didn’t stop there, however. In addition to that 1967 black and white set, the company also produced a 12-card color issue. That design was different from the other one and featured player images inside of a circle with the Pro’s Pizza name and background.
These color cards are mostly found in one of two ways. You may see them fully intact with the circular image on the square Pro’s Pizza card. More commonly, though, they are found with the circular card cut out (the cards had perforated edges so they were easy to remove) and no trace of the Pro’s Pizza name. Those cut out still hold value but are not worth as much as the complete card.
You can see a nice reproduction of the box these were on here.
Pro’s Pizza also produced a similar set for the Chicago Bears that season.
The 1967 sets would also be the last Pro’s Pizza issues offered.
Pro’s Pizza Rarity Explained
The Pro’s Pizza cards, as you might expect, are quite rare. Generally, you won’t see more than a few dozen on eBay at any given time.
The rarity can easily be explained for a few reasons. First, the cards are 50 years old so that’s quite a while to survive. A bigger problem in finding these is that they were printed on pizza boxes. Think about it. You’re at the ballpark, hungry, and just looking for something to eat. Sure, there’s a cool picture of a baseball player on the top, but do you really care or think enough to keep it? Even in this day and age when card collecting is popular and collectors tend to save everything since it might be valuable later, the inclination of most people would simply be to discard the box.
Consider, too, that while baseball cards were popular in the 1960s, these weren’t exactly your traditional cards. They had a big Pro’s Pizza name printed on them, were oversized, and didn’t have any statistics are biographical information. They likely weren’t even really seen as collectible since they didn’t look like your average baseball card.
Finally, don’t forget what type of product these cards were printed on. They weren’t on boxes of dry goods where the cards would have been relatively preserved. They were on the outside of individual pizza boxes, which were likely greasy and messy on the inside. That’s part of the reason, after all, that you will find many of these stained on the backs, which are blank. Even if a young fan wanted to keep the box top, a soiled back may have given them second thoughts.
Even though there were probably a large amount of these printed (particularly if they were sold throughout the course of an entire season), it’s sort of easy to see why so few of these survived.
Pro’s Pizza Prices
Pro’s Pizza cards aren’t the most expensive of vintage issues but aren’t cheap, either. Commons in decent condition are typically are in the $50 range with mid-grade stars reaching into three figures, depending on the player and grade. The 1966 issue is significantly harder to find than the 1967 cards. Even lower-graded cards are heavily desired. A lot of 13 lower-grade cards from both 1966 and 1967 sold a few years ago for more than $300.
The Banks in 1966 and 1967 are the most expensive cards. Two mid-grade 1967 Banks cards (one color, one black and white) were sold for nearly $600 at an auction this year.