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I was looking at some pictures of the Topps 1969 set of baseball cards, and it dawned on me that this may be the greatest year in history for quality of players: * This is Mantle's final card (and #500 in the set). The set also includes, among other Hall of Fame players from the 1950s: Mays, Aaron, Clemente, Frank and Brooks Robinson, Kaline, Killebrew, Banks, Yastrzemski, Drysdale, Mazeroski, Aparicio, Wilhelm, etc. * Players entering their primes include Rose, Gibson, Carlton, Marichal, Carew, Jenkins, Santo, Flood, Oliva, Brock, McCovey, Seaver, Stargell, Palmer, Reggie Jackson, etc. * Rookie cards include Johnny Bench and Nolan Ryan. * Ted Williams, Leo Durocher, Earl Weaver, and Walter Alston have cards as managers. To think I attended the All-Star game at RFK in 1969!
I used to; I was obsessed with baseball (and baseball cards - which were pretty much my only source of baseball information back then, other than the occasional televised game and my monthly copy of Sports Illustrated). Then, when I was about 12, my big brother bought my entire collection for $13, on the condition that I sort the cards for him. (*) Matt had a fairly large card collection that he got sick of, almost overnight - he was going to dump them for next to nothing, and I told him I'd buy the cards from him at market value. I didn't want him to make the same mistake I did. (*) On a similar note, we made a $5 bet on who would retire with more home runs: Willie Mays or Hank Aaron. I was about seven-years-old, this was probably around 1968, and I had no concept of aging - Mays was the much bigger marquis player, was way ahead of Aaron, and I literally couldn't conceive of him being passed. From 1969 going forward, Mays hit 81 more home runs; Aaron hit 245 more. There should have been a 1954 Bowman card of Banks, and there should have been a 1972 Topps card of Banks, but there were neither. Note also that Topps used the same picture in 1955-1956, and then again in 1968-1969; I never knew they employed that practice until tonight (not that there's anything wrong with it; I just never knew). Baseball cards are a lot like tapas - tapas used to be a throw-in as an enticement to get you to buy a drink, and baseball cards used to be a throw-in as an enticement to get you to buy cigarettes (the T206 Wagner is now an expensive throw-in.)