There were some radical changes at Topps when it came to designing the 1968 Bazooka Baseball cards. Kids who gazed upon the 25-piece boxes of gum 55 years ago were used to seeing cards on the backs of boxes, separated by perforated lines but unencumbered by anything else. Maybe the company felt it needed to shake things up. Maybe kids around the country were writing letters, demanding ballplaying tips as they chewed their wads of bubble gum. Either way, it was a head-scratcher.
Topps totally revamped the design in ’68, abandoning the three-player panel that had been a part of the set since the early 60’s and stuck four longer, rectangular cards on the sides of the boxes (two on each side). There were 15 panels in all with a total of 56 different cards. Four players were double printed (Tommy Agee, Don Drysdale, Pete Rose and Ron Santo) to fill out the 15.
This time, the back of the box was home to a series called “Tipps from the Topps,” which featured 15 players supposedly doling out advice on certain aspects of the game. Measuring 3 by 6 1/4 inches–taller and a bit thinner than other Bazooka cards of previous years– they included a single player head shot.
It’s hard to imagine a lot of kids aiming to collect the “Tipps” set but Topps did its part to help educate the masses.
The newfangled look didn’t last long. The 1968 Bazooka baseball design was a one and done issue. Interestingly, though, they made the entire box collectable in some way–and collectors do piece together sets of both the regular cards and the “Tipps” panels. The set even included Yankees coach Frankie Crosetti as one of the tippers.
The actual player cards again featured a star-packed lineup. There are 19 Hall of Famers among the 56 different players who appeared on the side panels.
Measuring 1 by 2 7/8 inches after cutting on the border, the unnumbered cards included Mickey Mantle’s final Bazooka card along with players like Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente, Tom Seaver, Al Kaline, Willie Mays and both Robinsons–Frank and Brooks. In fact, every box but one had at least one Hall of Famer on it.
Not many have been sent in for grading. In fact, PSA’s population report shows only one or two copies of some cards. The unusual, rectangular size makes them a difficult fit inside grading company holders.
The 1968 Bazooka set isn’t cheap to piece together in complete box form and even complete sets are tough to find. Single cards of Hall of Famers in nice shape can bring deep into the hundreds of dollars with complete boxes running much higher.
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Clete Boyer (tip)
Carl Yastrzemski (tip)
Bert Campaneris (tip)
Maury Wills (tip)
Julian Javier (tip)
Orlando Cepeda (tip)
Bill Mazeroski (tip)
Brooks Robinson (tip)
Jim Fregosi (tip)
Joe Torre (tip)
Jim Lonborg (tip)
Mike McCormick (tip)
Frankie Crosetti (tip)
Willie Mays (tip)
Lou Brock (tip)