Bazooka Gum’s 13-year run of card sets ended in 1971, but not without an air of mystery. The 1971 Bazooka baseball set is actually a two-headed monster.
Again created for placement on the back of Bazooka boxes which were filled with penny pieces of bubble gum, the set consists of 36 unnumbered cards, produced on 12 panels of three players each. However, there is also a numbered set catalogued as being distributed in 1971 as a ‘proof set’ of 48 cards.
Questions abound. Production of Bazooka cards often actually began the year before issue. A few of the players in the ‘proof’ set would seem to have been more logically issued in 1969 or ’70 when there were no Bazooka sets issued of current players. Richie Allen is shown as a member of the Cardinals on the numbered panel, but he had been traded to the Dodgers in 1969. Bill Mazeroski and Ken Harrelson would have been odd additions to a set produced for 1971. Tim McCarver had been productive in 1969, but an injury limited him to just 13 games in 1970.
We may never know the exact story of the numbered “proof” set but it’s possible Topps suddenly pulled it before distribution in 1970, with cards slipping out through other channels in ’71, after the unnumbered cards showed up in grocery and drug stores.
All but one panel in the more common 1971 Bazooka set includes at least one Hall of Famer. Aaron, Mays and Clemente are all in the set and all but one of the four panels in the numbered set also has a member of the Cooperstown shrine.
Prices vary–and by a lot. Unnumbered Hank Aaron cut cards can sometimes be purchased for $5-10 in excellent condition while a numbered Aaron, authenticated but not rated, sold for $124 on eBay in December. From a grading perspective, single cards that have been cut to include the faux perforated lines are considered key to landing much beyond an ‘Authentic’ grade.
The common 36-card set is checklisted as follows (numbers indicate their position in the numbered set), with listing in alphabetical order by last name of the player on the left of the panel.
Tommie Agee-Harmon Killebrew-Reggie Jackson (16-18)
Bert Campaneris-Pete Rose-Orlando Cepeda (31-33_
Rico Carty-Johnny Bench-Tommy Harper (28-30)
Bill Freeham-Roberto Clemente-Claude Osteen (37-39)
Jim Fregosi-Billy Williams-Dave McNally (25-27)
Randy Hundley-Willie Mays-Jim Hunter (46-48)
Juan Marichal-Frank Howard-Bill Melton (19-21)
Willie McCovey-Carol Yastrzemski-Clyde Wright (4-6)
Jim Merritt-Luis Aparicio-Bobby Murcer (7-9)
Rico Petrocelli-Sam McDowell-Clarence Gaston (10-12)
Brooks Robinson-Hank Aaron-Larry Dierker (22-24)
Rusty Staub-Bob Gibson-Amos Otis (40-42)
Following are in the numbered set only:
1-3 Tim McCarver-Frank Robinson-Bill Mazeroski
13-15 Ferguson Jenkins-Al Kaline-Ken Harrelson
34-36 Maury Wills-Tom Seaver-Tony Oliva
43-45 Jim Wynn-Rich Allen-Billy Conigliaro
Bazooka was home to a one and done football set later that year that also includes numerous Hall of Famers.
See 1971 Bazooka baseball on eBay by clicking here.