The 1962 Bazooka set was the fourth set of baseball cards produced by the chewing gum company. It not only included the largest number of players at the time, but it featured the biggest names in baseball.
As was the case in previous Bazooka issues, the individual blank-backed cards measured approximately 1 3/4″ x 2 3/4″ and were part of three-card panels printed on the bottoms of the company’s bubble gum boxes. For the fourth consecutive year, the cards featured color images of players with their name and team name at the bottom.
One slight difference from previous years was that card numbers were omitted in this series. As a result, it was a bit more difficult for collectors to keep track of the entire set. Another difference was the pure size of the set, which included 45 players. This was the most ever and significantly larger than the 36 cards Bazooka offered in both 1960 and 1961.
Bazooka certainly did their part in including some of baseball’s biggest names. The top attractions are, of course, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, and Hank Aaron. However, other Hall of Famers such as Warren Spahn, Eddie Mathews, Roberto Clemente, Sandy Koufax, Al Kaline, Frank Robinson, Ernie Banks, and Harmon Killebrew also make it a worthwhile pursuit.
One disappointment in the 1962 Bazooka release is that it didn’t include any of 1962’s major rookies. While the 1962 Topps set gave us first cards of Gaylord Perry, Joe Torre, and Boog Powell, those players were left out here. In addition, while it was a star-studded set, many big name players didn’t make the cut, including Bob Gibson, Stan Musial, Brooks Robinson, Robin Roberts, Yogi Berra, Don Drysdale, Carl Yastrzemski, Duke Snider, Juan Marichal, and others. And while 1961 American League Rookie of the Year Don Schwall made the cut, the National League award winner from that season, Billy Williams, didn’t.
A closer look at the various panels (full checklist below) of the 1962 Bazooka set reveals two distinct things. First, the stars were pretty evenly distributed across the panels – likely intentional in the hopes of trying to have kids buy more. Only Panel 4 (Roberto Clemente and Al Kaline) and 10 (Hank Aaron and Luis Aparacio) included more than one Hall of Famer. Similarly, every panel has at least one Hall of Famer, except Panel 5 and Panel 7 – and even 5 included a major star of the day in Roger Maris, who was fresh off of his 61-home run and Most Valuable Player season in 1961. If Bazooka’s goal was an even distribution of key players, they succeeded.
The other noticeable item in studying the panels is that in almost every case, the star player is featured in the middle. Exceptions include Panel 6, where Sandy Koufax is on the left side. For the most part, though, Bazooka placed the big attraction front and center.
The 1962 Bazooka cards remain popular with collectors and often can be accompanied with a relatively high price tag. A Mantle SGC-graded Authentic recently sold for a little over $225 at auction and while other Hall of Famers often sell in the $50 – $75 range, due to the rarity of the set, even poorly-cut issues of big time players will command more on occasion.
Clean cut issue of stars are highly sought after. Full panels are incredibly desirable with asking prices generally in the hundreds of dollars, depending on the players involved. Panels 1, 11 and 15 are in shorter supply so expect to pay a premium.
Complete sets aren’t common, but a partial one containing the big three of Mays, Aaron, and Mantle sold a few years ago for $630. Given the high price tag of some recent auction sales for individual cards, you can probably expect to pay more than that today.
Also be wary of reprints, which are commonly sold due to the amount of interest in the set.
1962 Bazooka Checklist
Panel 1 – Bob Allison, Ed Mathews, Vada Pinson
Panel 2 – Earl Battey, Warren Spahn, Lee Thomas
Panel 3 – Orlando Cepeda, Woodie Held, Bob Aspromonte
Panel 4 – Dick Howser, Roberto Clemente, Al Kaline
Panel 5 – Joey Jay, Roger Maris, Frank Howard
Panel 6 – Sandy Koufax, Jim Gentile, Johnny Callison
Panel 7 – Jim Landis, Ken Boyer, Chuck Schilling
Panel 8 – Art Mahaffey, Mickey Mantle, Dick Stuart
Panel 9 – Ken McBridge, Frank Robinson, Gil Hodges
Panel 10 – Milt Pappas, Hank Aaron, Luis Aparacio
Panel 11 – Johnny Romano, Ernie Banks, Norm Siebern
Panel 12 – Ron Santo, Norm Cash, Jimmy Piersall
Panel 13 – Don Schwall, Willie Mays, Norm Larker
Panel 14 – Bill White, Whitey Ford, Rocky Colavito
Panel 15 – Don Zimmer, Harmon Killebrew, Gene Woodling