In many ways the 1970 Topps Baseball card set was both fun and a historically significant. In July 1969, the miracle of man first landing on the moon grabbed worldwide headlines. Only a few short months later another miracle occurred as the Mets shocked the world and won the World Series. This latter “miracle” was commemorated in the 1970 baseball set as card #1, the NY Mets team.
Topps initially began production of this set a short time after the 1969 World Series had ended, and by the time the Rolling Stones played their gig at the infamous Altamont Music Festival, Topps production was in full swing. By January 1970, as the old AFL held their last football game, Topps was in the process of finalizing production and distribution.
By February/March, as soon as the first series hit the market, school kids raced to buy them… but they were met with a shock. The price of the pack DOUBLED from a nickel to a dime per pack. While that doesn’t mean much now, back then if you had a small paper route and earned $1.20/week in tips (which wasn’t too bad), you could feel rich and purchase one full wax box to rip open. Now however, you would need to work two weeks just to buy that same 24 pack wax box!
On the topic of wax boxes, there were actually three different types released that year. Each of these would contain a unique series and each had a different sales incentive for kids to encourage them to buy the new packs. (Note: For the Canadian collectors, a 4th image is included here showing the 1970 OPC wax box offering an “extra insert in each pack”).
The wax boxes for the earliest 1970 series offered the Denny McLain poster on the right side of the front panel. Each pack came with an “all-star poster” and the box had a Topps production code of 1-401-37-01-0.
The 1970 wax box for the middle series offered a “scratch off card in each pack”. The Topps production code for this box was 1-403-37-01-0.
The final Topps wax box sold packs for the last of the 1970 baseball card series. This offered a “story booklet” in each pack and advertised it with an image of Pete Rose. The Topps production code on this box was 1-405-37-01-0.
Reflecting back on the 1970 Topps set, it probably had the best card backs of any Topps set prior to the 1990’s. They used a vibrant yellow, navy blue and white to make the back of the card very easy to read. Flipping through the set again, it is interesting to think of what a kid saw in the card vs what was actually occurring. Take card # 551 (Dock Ellis) for example, who knew at the time he liked to trip on LSD and per his autobiography, who also knew that later in the year, he would throw a no-hitter while tripping? Look at card #197 (Nolan Ryan Playoff) and wonder how many more playoffs the Mets might have played in if they never traded Nolan Ryan and a few years later, Tom Seaver. The 1970 set captures the youth (and the birth) of the Big Red Machine that would dominate during the 1970’s (# 580 Pete Rose, # 660 Johnny Bench, etc).
In a bit of nostalgia, a June 1970 ad in baseball publications offered a (presumably) mint 1970 BB card set for $11.95 (don’t forget the buck for postage). Today, the set in the same condition would sell for $2,000++. A quick breakdown of the set using Beckett’s prices indicate; the top 15 cards total $940 while there are also 85+ high numbers @ $10 ea. In fact, the total of the entire set based on high value Beckett is $3,540.
So… as the baseball season came to an end with the Cincinnati Reds making their last out for the 1970 World Series, the whole process would soon start again as Topps would begin their production of 1971 baseball cards.
See 1970 Topps baseball cards for sale on eBay by clicking here.