By Kin Kinsley
(Note – Please welcome guest blogger Kin Kinsley to the COMC Blog. Kin is a lifelong collector and accomplished writer who currently writes content for his two blogs – I Feel Like a Collector Again and Bean’s Ballcard Blog.)
It’s almost time for one of the most anticipated baseball sets of the season to hit hobby shops and retailers. The 2018 Topps Heritage set is scheduled for a February 28th release. This year’s set design mimics the popular 1969 set, so let’s take a look at the set kids were collecting in the summer of ’69.
Cream of the Crop: The Three Top Cards of 1969 Topps
1969 Topps #533 Nolan Ryan
Combining the career leader in strikeouts and a higher series release makes Nolan Ryan one of the most desired in the set. Even for the poorest condition of cards, you should expect to pay at least $30…if you’re lucky.
1969 Topps #260 Reggie Jackson
The card of “Mr. October” Reggie Jackson is the top rookie in the set. Best known for wearing glasses and as a Yankee, the image of a young Jackson sporting an Athletics vest provides a very different look. Picking up anything other than a poor condition cards will likely set you back more than $40.
1969 Topps #500 Mickey Mantle
Mickey Mantle’s sunset card may be the most popular card in the set because, well, Mickey Mantle. The card is in one of the most common series, but more cards haven’t hampered the price or collectability.
Who’s the New Guy?: Three Featured Rookie Cards of 1969 Topps
Reggie Jackson’s rookie card is the most well-known in the set. However, there are some other quality rookies in the set:
1969 Topps #597 Bobby Floyd/Larry Burchart/Rollie Fingers
Rollie Fingers is the “other” Oakland Athletics rookie in the set that has been enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame. In 1992, he was just the second reliever elected. Twelve years after this card was released (1981) he won BOTH the American League MVP and Cy Young Awards. You should be able to get lower condition copies of the card for $20 or less.
1969 Topps #630 Bobby Bonds
I’m sure that to many Bobby Bonds is best known as Barry’s dad. The elder Bonds accomplished many of baseball’s “first” and held all-time records at the time of his retirement. He was the first player to have two 30/30 seasons and ended his career accomplishing this a record five times (later matched by Barry). He also held the career and season records for times leading off a game with a home run, but both records have been broken.
1969 Topps #516 Earl Weaver
Who’s to say that a manager’s rookie card can’t be desirable? It can if it’s Earl Weaver. The best example I can give of why is the sheer number of post-career sets that Weaver appears in. They are all as a manager, as he never made it to the bigs as a player. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996 and you can easily find a copy of his rookie card for less than $10.
Shenanigans and Mishaps: Three errors and variations from 1969 Topps
1969 Topps #653 Aurelio Rodriguez
It’s not an error or variation, but the Aurelio Rodriguez is one of the better known cards in the hobby. Why? He’s not pictured on the card but instead, it’s an Angels batboy. The switcheroo wasn’t known for a few years so the error was never corrected. You can easily find this card for less than a couple bucks.
1969 Topps #500 Mickey Mantle (VARIATION)
There aren’t many variations in the 1969 Topps set so I’m sure Mickey Mantle being one of them is pure happenstance. Instead of Mantle’s last name appearing in yellow, it’s white on the variation. If you want to acquire this one, be prepared to shell out some good money.
1969 Topps #47 Paul Popovich
The Paul Popovich variations are my favorites in the set for a couple of reasons. Popovich attended West Virginia University (my alma mater), making it a favorite for that reason alone. Also, it’s the only card in the set with three variations. There are two airbrushed versions (thick and light) that the Cub “C” is not visible on. There’s also a version where you can still see the “C” despite the airbrushing (pictured above). The version with the “C” showing can command a premium, but nothing too significant. I find it interesting and reflective of the innocent days passed in trading card collecting.
Best of the Rest: Three “Cooler” Cards From 1969 Topps
1969 Topps #650 Ted Williams
Let’s face it, not everyone that would like a Ted Williams card from his playing days can afford one. I’ve been collecting for more than 30 years and have never really looked because the prices are out of my comfort zone. However, most anyone should be able to lay down $10 or so to pick up a copy of this card.
1969 Topps #100 Hank Aaron
I feel that Hank Aaron was pretty decent with the lumber himself. People think of him as a power hitter but either forget or don’t know that he also hit .305 during his career. You can usually find low grade copies of the long time home run king for under $10.
1969 Topps #237 Bobby Cox
There are more than a handful of things iconic about the Topps brand. One of them is the All-Star Rookie Trophy on the front of cards. Bobby Cox didn’t make the Hall of Fame for his playing career, but he was one of the All-Star Rookies. This is his only mainstream card from his playing days and you can find copies for around $10.