A Closer Look at the 1967 Topps Baseball Card Set

Joe Orlando and Alan Cowart
Nov 11, 2003

The facsimile autograph featured with every other card in the 1967 Topps set was omitted from #254 Milt Pappas.

As the popularity of the PSA Set Registry continues to grow, collectors are feeling more and more compelled to share their knowledge with others who participate or are considering set registration. There is no doubt that the 1967 Topps baseball set is a great set to collect because it just has so much to offer. The cards are pure, bright and colorful. There are no distracting designs or overcomplicated features, just beautiful photographs of baseball's best. From Aaron to Banks to Mantle, the cards are just sparkling. Alan Cowart, an active member on the PSA Set registry and 1967 Topps enthusiast, contributed his take on the set that has become the focal point of his prized collection.

If one were to take a poll of "What is your favorite Topps baseball card set issued in the 1960s?" a large percentage of respondents would undoubtedly choose 1967. Some of the reasons that you might hear are things like simplicity of the design, quality of the photography, and great rookie cards. Upon a cursory glance through the set, it would be hard to argue with any of these reasons. However, when one spends the time to examine the set in detail, they will find that the set really stands out, for a number of reasons, as maybe the most interesting issue of Topps's 1960s offerings.

The first thing one notices when going through a set of 1967's is that the Spartan design lends itself to making the player photo really be the focal point. One might wonder about this statement being true about every set. However, with 1967's the picture stands out so much that most collectors don't realize that Topps actually published two unique designs with this issue. Don't believe me? Compare a series one card with that of any other series and one will notice that the player name and position in a series one card is not separated by the small dot that separates the name and position in series two through six. It's definitely one of the stranger mid-stream production decisions that Topps ever made. Furthermore, the design is so elegant that most collectors don't even notice that card #254 Milt Pappas omits the facsimile autograph that is featured with every other card. If these two items are news to you, don't feel bad. Many long-time collectors never noticed either!

The backs of the 1967's are just about as interesting as you can find in any set of the 1960s. Most importantly, the backs of the 1967's are a card grader's paradise. The solid green back lends itself to easy identification of the corner wear almost as nicely as the solid black edges of the Topps 1971 issue. Another interesting thing about the backs is the wide variety of variations to be found. The most obvious variations can be found on cards #26 Bob Priddy and #86 Mike McCormick. On these two cards, Topps added a sentence about the players being traded for one another that appears on most of their cards. The cards that don't have the trade statement are generally regarded as much tougher than their updated counterparts. A second interesting variation can be found in cards #374 Mel Queen, #402 Phillies Rookies, #427 Ruben Gomez and #447 Bo Belinsky. On these four cards, a section of the statistics of each player appears to be erased from the back of the card. These incomplete stat line cards are fairly scarce (especially in high grade). Similarly, the Mickey Mantle Checklist card can be found with the period after D (in D. McAuliffe) erased. The cards without the period are much more difficult to obtain.

Topps also produced some very strange variations on the fronts of the 1967 issue. Three of the most notable are cards #58 Paul Schaal, #252 Bobby Bolin, and the #454 Juan Marichal Checklist card. The Schaal card is probably the most obvious because the tip of his bat mysteriously turns a lime green color above his name in the rarer variation card. The Juan Marichal checklist card is also fairly straightforward. The discerning eye will notice that one version of the card cuts off Marichal's entire left ear. Maybe it's retribution for Marichal's famous attack on Dodger catcher Johnny Roseboro. One thing is certain; neither variation is really all that much tougher than the other. The Bolin variation is probably the toughest of the three. In the tough variation, there is a white smear between his first and last names. Lastly, Yankee fans can rejoice that Roger Maris had one final variation card as a Yankee which was issued as a blank back proof card. The regular issue shows Maris in Yankee pinstripes, yet lists him correctly with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Undoubtedly, one of the best things that the 1967 set has going for it is the rookies. Strangely enough, Topps got off to an inauspicious start by incorrectly providing a picture of James Murray Brown in George Korince's place on the #72 Tiger rookie card. The error was never corrected. In 1967, Topps without a doubt saved the best for last by putting both Rod Carew's and Tom Seaver's initial cards in the last series. While these cards are obvious keys to the set, it is often interesting to consider what might have been. One can only imagine what a scarce 1967 high number card with both Tom Seaver and Nolan Ryan might sell for.

No analysis of 1967's can be considered complete without a discussion of which cards are considered toughest to find in high grade. The first thing one will notice about the 1967's is that the World Series rivals Red Sox and Tigers cards seem to consistently sell for a premium. Red Sox cards of #371 Jim Lonborg, #429 Garry Roggenburk, and especially #572 Don Demeter are really tough to find in centered, NM/MT condition. Tigers cards of #72 Tigers rookies, #465 Willie Horton, and #540 Norm Cash can be almost as challenging as the aforementioned Red Sox cards. Although you never know which cards will come out when 1967 packs and vending cases are opened, it's a good bet that cards like #3 Duke Sims, #196 Johnny Romano, and the #492 Pirates team card that meet PSA 8 standards will be tough to find.

Overall, the 1967 set is both fun and challenging to collect in any grade. Its popularity is clearly demonstrated by the number of graded sets in progress on PSA's Set Registry. Whether it's the beauty of the design, the quality of the photographs, the chase of the low pop commons, or just the phenomenal rookie card, the 1967 Topps baseball offering truly has something for everyone.

Click here to view the current 1967 Topps leaders on the PSA Set Registry.

The end of Paul Schaal's bat mysteriously turns bright green in a rare print variation of card #58.

Some stats appear to be erased on variations of cards #374, #402, #427 and #447.