Wax packs went from a nickel to a dime, which must have seemed outrageous at the time. Double the price?! At least collectors had more cards to chase when the 1970 Topps Baseball cards hit the market.
The set was split into seven series and was the largest one produced to that point at 720 cards. The front of the cards seemed to lack pizzazz but the backs were done in a vibrant yellow, navy blue and white to make the mini bio and stats very easy to read.
Today, although the set was issued in series, the value of common cards from #1-546 is essentially the same. Prices do increase a bit for commons in the ‘semi high’ numbers (#547-633) and are highest priced for the high numbered series (#634-720).
Some fun facts about the 1970 set:
- The set marked the debut of “Playoff” cards after MLB went to a four-division alignment in 1969
- Team cards returned to Topps after a one-year absence
- For the first time in a Topps regular issue (since 1952), there was no Mickey Mantle baseball card produced
- Cards of the 1970 Milwaukee Brewers are pictured as Seattle Pilots. The franchise moved too late in the spring for team names to be changed prior to distribution.
- Set features rookie cards of Thurman Munson, Bill Buckner and Vida Blue as well as Charlie Manuel, who gained bigger fame as manager of the World Series champion Phillies more than three decades later (he’s ‘Chuck’ in the set). It also marked the ‘managerial rookie card’ of Sparky Anderson, in his first year with Cincinnati. His airbrushed photo was taken the year before when Anderson was a Padres’ coach.
- The 1970 Topps Nolan Ryan was 13th on Topps’ 2010 list of the company’s best ever cards
- Hank Aaron’s card is often off-center, creating a scarcity in cards professionally graded at the highest levels.
- Many of the All-Star cards are off-center including Reggie Jackson’s, which is tough to find in a truly ‘mint’ grade
Perhaps the most melancholy card in the set is card #88, the Pilots Rookie Stars card. Sharing the card with Dick Baney – who won four games and saved three over three seasons with the Pilots and Reds – was a 23-year-old pitcher named Miguel Fuentes. Fuentes has the distinction of throwing the final pitch in Seattle Pilots history, but was murdered in the off-season in his native Puerto Rico by a bar patron who thought Fuentes was relieving himself on his car.
In a bit of nostalgia, a June 1970 ad in Baseball Digest offered a (presumably) mint 1970 BB card set for $11.95. Today, the set in the same condition would sell for $2,000+.
You can see 1970 Topps Baseball cards on eBay here.