Top 10 Vintage Baseball Card Singles of 1960
The 1960 baseball collecting season saw Topps return to a past design style for their flagship product and also an increase in competition with the introduction of several new sets. In addition, regional and food-based issues offered another alternative to Topps. Leading the way, key rookie card appearances for the year include Carl Yastrzemski, Willie McCovey, and Frank Howard. Travel back to the hobby of 1960 with some of the most iconic baseball appearances of the year.
1960 Flagship Topps Baseball
The 1960 Topps Baseball set found the company utilizing a horizontal format for the first time since 1956 Topps. The standard base cards feature both a colored and black-and-white photograph on the front with alternating color fonts for the player's name. Rookie cards were included in two different subsets: the SPORT magazine rookies and Topps All-Star Rookies. The Carl Yastrzemski rookie is featured in the SPORT set while Willie McCovey's rookie came with the All-Stars. Other notable rookie cards include Frank Howard, Jim Kaat, Dick Ellsworth, Dallas Green, and Tommy Davis.
Topps experimental set that year was Topps Tattoos and the tattoos served as the wrapper for Topps' famous pink gum. The subjects featured on each tattoo could be seen through the packaging, meaning popular players like Mickey Mantle were snapped up quickly.
Topps also issued a set for the Venezuelan market that included the first 196 cards in the main checklist. As usual, the quality of the cards was much lower with lighter ink used on the reverse side. In addition, Topps released the second Bazooka set and fans were able to find three cards on the bottom of each gum pack instead of the previous year's one-card format. A notable appearance from that set cracks the list below.
1960 Fleer, Leaf and Nu-Card Baseball
Although Topps continued as the dominant player in the industry, collectors could still find multiple releases outside of the powerhouse brand. Leaf and Sports Novelties joined forces to produce a great black-and-white set featuring some of the most beautiful cards of the decade. 1960 Leaf Baseball includes Duke Snider and one of the few cards of Sparky Anderson as a player. While nearly the entire 144-card set is readily available to collectors at reasonable prices, the set's pre-production cards offer close-up photos and command high prices at auction.
Fleer followed up 1959 Fleer Ted Williams with the 1960 Fleer Baseball Greats set which mainly showcased retired legends with several shown as managers and coaches, including Lou Boudreau and Al Simmons. Ted Williams' appearance in the set makes the top list and is one of his final cards as a player.
The oversized Nu-Card Baseball Hi-Lites used a newspaper headline design to feature memorable moments from a mix of modern and retired players. Of the 72 cards in the set, highlights include several cards devoted to Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle.
A chain of stores—MacGregor Sport Goods—issued a black-and-white card set with Hank Aaron and Willie Mays topping the must-have list.
1960 Food-Based Baseball Sets
Also releasing in 1960, a pair of Milwaukee Braves sets offered popular cards for Hank Aaron and Warren Spahn. The Lake to Lake Dairy set features blue cards that were originally stapled to cartons of milk. Card condition is obviously an issue as they could be redeemed for prizes and "canceled" with a hole punch. The final set from the Spic and Span dry cleaning franchise was issued in 1960, as well. Along with Aaron and Spahn, Eddie Mathews is a key option in the set.
Rounding out the year, three '60 sets let fans find trading cards (and coins) in hot dog products. Armour brand hot dog packaging contained baseball coins in a variety of colors with the Mickey Mantle coin being the most in-demand. The Morrell Meats set focused on Los Angeles Dodgers players and, logically, the top cards are for Gil Hodges and Sandy Koufax. Finally, the set issued by Kahn's Wieners included more teams than ever in 1960, bringing the total to six. The rare appearances by Roberto Clemente and Ted Kluszewski are the most valuable.
While Topps continues to dominate the top cards list, two other card makers also make appearances. In formulating this guide, historical significance and card value were both taken into consideration.
Top 1960 Baseball Card Singles
Click on the card titles or images to shop for specific cards on eBay. Links in the descriptions go directly to card guides.
As a baseball card maker, Leaf was last heard from with their 1948-1949 set. Therefore, it was a pleasant surprise that they issued a new baseball set in 1960 featuring some of the best-looking black-and-white cards of the era. Although the set doesn't feature cards from the biggest stars like Mantle or Aaron, the first card in the set went to future Hall of Famer and Chicago White Sox shortstop Luis Aparicio. Aparicio was also one of the players featured on prototype cards with close-up photography that are incredibly scarce and very valuable.
Sandy Koufax was slowly developing into one of the best pitchers in the National League as he would finish third in strikeouts while only notching an 8-6 record in 1959. The backs of the 1960 Topps cards typically featured a cartoon depicting an interesting fact about the player and also several highlights from the 1959 season. Koufax's card details his strikeout prowess during the '59 season as he tied Bob Feller's record by striking out 18 batters in a single game.
The 1960 Fleer Baseball Greats set featured past legends exclusively except for one card, that of "The Splendid Splinter" Ted Williams. While Williams had an entire set devoted to him the previous year, fans would only have his '60 Fleer appearance and a card in the Nu-Cards set to track down. 1960 would prove to be his final season with the Boston Red Sox and he famously hit a home run during his last at-bat.
Roberto Clemente was again listed as "Bob" instead of "Roberto" on his 1960 Topps card, a trend that would continue with Topps until the 1970s. However, other card makers like 1962 Post Cereal and 1963 Fleer mentioned the Pittsburgh Pirates star as "Roberto." The stats on Clemente's card show that 1959 wasn't his best season as he only played in 105 games after missing two months due to an injured elbow. His .296 batting average would prove to be his last sub-.300 season until 1968.
The 1959 Topps Bob Gibson rookie was the key card on the '59 list, and his 1960 card makes the cut, too. Like many second-year cards for Hall of Fame players, it can't compete with the value of his rookie and offers a more budget-friendly option for collectors. The card back reminds us that Gibson was a multi-sport athlete while at Creighton University where he attended on a basketball scholarship.
While the 1960 Bazooka Mantle doesn't eclipse his 1960 Topps flagship appearance (more on that in a bit), it is still one of the most popular cards issued that year. Bazooka came in panels of three cards and Mantle shares panel #11 with Chicago Cubs pitcher Glen Hobbie and Cincinnati Reds shortstop Roy McMillan. A complete panel with all three cards is worth considerably more than just the Mantle itself.
The first rookie card on the list for a future Hall of Famer is the 1960 Topps Willie McCovey card. McCovey was included in the All-Star Rookie subset that was, as the front of the card reads, "selected by the youth of America." McCovey was named the 1959 National League Rookie of the Year despite playing in only 52 games. However, he hit 13 home runs in those games, making him one of the top prospects in all of baseball.
Sitting at third, Hank Aaron continued to establish himself as the best hitter in the National League. His 1960 Topps card informs us that he won the 1959 NL batting title by ten points with a .355 average. He also led the league with 223 hits and a 22-game hitting streak thrown in as well. Aaron was given a second card in '60 Topps courtesy of the All-Star set at the end of the checklist.
Mickey Mantle cards continued to be popular with just about anyone ripping packs in the 1960s and he would remain the most sought-after star in the game. Topps put their biggest seller on three cards in 1960 Topps including the card below, an All-Star card in the final series, and a combination card with St. Louis Cardinals slugger Ken Boyer. The reverse side of his base card notes that Mantle's 1959 season was a little below his typical stellar stats with 31 home runs and 75 RBI.
The Carl Yastzemski Topps rookie card is found in the Sport Magazine 1960 Rookie Star subset sprinkled across the checklist. At this point in his career, Yastrzemski hadn't even played a game in the majors yet, and wouldn't until 1961. Yaz's write-up on the back is attributed to the editors of SPORT magazine and it discusses Carl's future as one of the best up-and-coming players. Near-mint graded copies can approach $1,400 at auction with mint copies reaching prices ten times as much.