Decks By The Decade - 1960's Part Two
The later half of the 1960's was dominated by Topps, especially with the debut of Mr. October and the all time leader in pitcher strikeouts.
1967 Topps: This massive set (609 cards) featured the greats mentioned before with a couple of errors. The biggest error of them all would be the Roger Maris card where it shows him as a Yankee rather then the recently traded to St Louis Cardinals. The high number cards in the set (#534-609) weren't as mass produced as the base cards. Nestled in those select high number cards are two Hall of Famers; Rod Carew and Tom Seaver.
After immigrating from Panama at the age of 14, Rod Carew started his professional career in baseball. He never played for his high school team. Carew chose to play for the local semi-pro team the Bronx Cavaliers. Thanks to a players parent being a Minnesota Twins scout, Carew was scouted and eventually signed by the Twinkies later that year. He spent three years in the minors, averaging .302. Carew made his debut in 1967, where he promptly won ROY and grabbed the first of 18 all star selections. Carew was a great hitter thanks to his ability to put the ball in play. He won seven batting titles, and captured the MVP in 1977 with a slash line of .388/.449/.570 leading the league in hits with 239. He finished his career batting .328. His rookie card shares a face with another player, Hank Allen. Allen only really had two full seasons under his belt and fizzled out after seven years. The only PSA10 registered sold for $95,293 back in 2014.
Tom Seaver started his career with the Mets in 1967 where he won rookie of the year going 16-13 with a 2.76 ERA. He gathered more steam, capturing 12 All Star selections, winning the ERA title three times, and also winning three Cy Young's. His best year as a pitcher saw him picking up second place in the Cy Young voting going 20-10 with 21 complete games in 286.1 IP with an astonishing 1.76 ERA. Fergie Jenkins stole the award from him by going 24-13 with a 2.77 ERA in 325IP. In his first Cy Young year, Seaver helped the struggling Mets reach and win the World Series in 1969. Seaver retired after 20 years of pitching, and was elected into the Hall Of Fame. Much like Rod Carew's card, Seaver also shared his rookie card with another player. Also like Carew, the other player on the card (in this case Bill Denehy) did not have a notable career in the majors. One of three PSA10's of this card sold for $24,450 back in 2012.
1968 Topps: Topps scaled back the set, albeit by eleven cards, and changed the background to a wooden frame-like look. Of course, the usuals are here, Roberto Clemente, Mickey Mantle, Carl Yastrzemski, etc. What completed this set, were the two star rookies.
Nolan Ryan was drafted straight out of high school by the Mets in 1965. He wasn't high pick, going in the 10th round, but featured a cannon for an arm. As a senior, he went 19-3 and struck out 211 batters while walking 61. Ryan didn't have the greatest start to his career like the aforementioned players like Carew or Seaver, struggling to keep the walks down (6.1 BB/9 in his first five seasons). Nolan's sixth season started the dominance. Ryan went 19-16 pitching nine complete game shutouts. From there, Ryan cemented his status as the most dominant pitcher, possibly ever. In his astonishing 27 year career, Nolan Ryan grunted his way on the mound to seven no hitters, eight All Stars, two ERA titles, and one World Series. He also is the all time leader in walks, strikeouts, and hits per 9IP (6.6). One interesting thing to note is the lack of Cy Youngs. He came in second once, losing to Jim Palmer even though he more than doubled the amount of K's (158 to 383), eclipsed him in IP (296.1 to 326), and complete games (19 to 26). One of my favorite documentaries of all time, Fastball, highlighted Nolan Ryan's amazing fastball. Not to go too into detail, but fastball speed was measured at the plate rather than out of the hand back when Ryan played. Adjusting this placement of the radar would have put Nolan Ryan's fastball at 108 MPH at the height of his career. His last pitch at age 46 before he tore his UCL was clocked at 96 MPH. It's safe to say thanks to pitch limits on pitchers, his career strikeouts and walks will never be matched. He shared his rookie card with Jerry Koosman who had a respectable 19 year career with a second place Cy Young finish to his name. The most recent sale of this card at a PSA10 actually just sold for $600,000 back on August 28th.
Johnny Bench is respected as the best catcher of all time. Bench started his Major League career at 19, winning the Rookie of the Year the following year. Bench is one of the most decorated catchers of all time, winning ten Gold Gloves, 14 All Stars, two MVP's, two World Series, and one World Series MVP. At his peak in 1970, Bench hit 45 homers, 148 RBI's, with a slash line of .293/.345/.932. To get this sort of offensive production out of a catcher, coupled with the Gold Glove awards, makes Bench an anomaly for his position. His rookie card, sharing a spot with Ron Tompkins, showcases Bench with a backwards hat. The most recent PSA10 sold for $26,100
1969 Topps: Topps decided 598 cards weren't enough, and jacked up the set to 664 cards. Nestled in this set was the introduction of the deckle edged cards, which was a smaller card featuring the players signatures printed on the fronts. What makes this set up, is one rookie that came alive during the World Series.
Originally going to Arizona State University for football, Reggie Jackson was approached by the baseball teams coach one day after practice. The day after, Jackson showed up and crushed the second pitch he saw for a home run. Reggie was drafted by the Kansas City Athletics in 1966 and made his debut the next year. In his third year, Reggie lead the league in runs scored (123), strikeouts (142) and OPS (1.018) while hitting 47 home runs. This became a trend for Reggie, smacking the ball but also leading the league in strikeouts. He was a two time Silver Slugger, a 14 time All Star, one MVP, five World Series, and two World Series MVP's. Mr. October got his nickname thanks to the incredible clutch hitting. In 27 games in the World Series, Jackson had a slash line of .357/.457/.755 with 10 home runs and 24 RBI's which is a pace of 60 homers and 144 RBIs in a 162 game season. 1969 saw a design change which featured just Reggie on the card for the set. A most recent PSA10 version of this card sold for $115,000 in 2012.