It was the end of the decade…and the end of an era for those who could always count on tossing a nickel on the store counter for a pack of baseball cards. Football season brought more cards per pack but the price of had doubled for good. Expansion had come to baseball in 1969 and Topps’ seven series roll out included 664 cards, making it the largest set to date.
969 Topps baseball was issued in a few different formats and this week’s edition of Vintage Pack Facts from Vintage Breaks is all about the issue that gave us Mickey Mantle’s last card and Reggie Jackson’s first.
- Topps had to scramble to keep up with everything happening in the game and the look of the 1969 set showed it. There were no fresh photos of players on the new teams in Seattle, Kansas City, San Diego and Montreal so the company’s photo editors were busy creating a lot of generic looks in the off-season and early months of ’69.
- Mantle, who had announced his retirement during spring training, nonetheless had a card in the 5th series that was issued in late summer. His face also adorned the front of the 5th series checklist.
- Each wax pack contained five cards for a nickel. While the cards themselves were pretty tame, the box had sort of a ’60s mod look to it and featured circular photos of players who had led their league in a specific category in 1968.
- While dad may have been buying a six-pack of beer, Junior could buy a six-pack of cards. The dawn of ‘tray packs,’ featuring six wax packs sitting on a cardboard ‘tray’ and wrapped in plastic usually meant a collector could save a couple of cents off the typical 30-cent cost of six wax packs. They’re very scarce today.
- There were two insert sets issued in 1969 and the box would later reflect the inclusion of Topps’ black and white Deckle Edge cards when they became available in packs. The decals that were issued in packs beginning with the fourth series looked much the same as the cards.
- Topps also offered cello packs, with some being packaged in a blue-colored overwrap. The ten-cent cost may have been aimed at getting youngsters used to the higher cost of packs that was coming across the board. The ten-cent cellos contained ten cards and a decal and are also rare these days.
- Rack packs containing first series cards were sold, too. Each contained 36 cards for 29 cents, easily the best deal of any Topps packaging that season. The racks had three 12-card cello packs and a red header card on the end. Vintage Breaks is currently offering spots in an upcoming rack pack break that includes a Hank Aaron. Roberto Clemente, Johnny Bench, Ernie Banks, Joe Morgan and rookie Graig Nettles are all in Series 1.
You can learn more about participating in vintage pack breaks—or just watch—by visiting VintageBreaks.com.