Topps 1970 Baseball Card Set - A New Way of Life
July 25, 2013
by William Szczepanek
The beginning of the new era of the 1970s brought the end to a phenomenon called the 1960s. The 1960s as a decade was a time of peace, a time of war and a time of love all wrapped into one dynamic move to change how everything worked. The 1970s was the time we needed to learn how to deal with the new way of life.
Baseball Cards of 1970
The 720-card, 1970 offering was the largest Topps had produced to that point. The gray and white border provided a clean if not dull design. In today's language it might be like stainless steel, but back then it was plain gray. In many eyes it is considered one of Topps' worst designs ever. I think the set just didn't match the time, and it was not boring. It contained the rookie card of Thurman Munson and a card of Roberto Clemente, both of whom would perish in plane crashes. While Mickey Mantle was gone from a Topps Set for the first time, cards of Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Al Kaline, Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson, Johnny Bench, Ernie Banks, Bob Gibson, Carl Yastrzemski, Fergie Jenkins, Harmon Killebrew, Tom Seaver, and a young pitcher named Nolan Ryan rounded out just a few of the superstars and Hall of Famers in this set.
1970 also marks the year of a price hike where a nickel could no longer buy a pack of cards. The going rate was ten cents, which was still affordable for most youngsters who were the major purchasers. The extra nickel did get you a booklet, a poster or a scratch-off.
The subsets for the 1970 Topps baseball cards were league leaders (61-72), playoff highlights (195-202), World Series highlights (305-310), and All-Stars (450-469). It was the last year for separate All Star cards, which I always looked at as a chance to get a card of a good player if you happened to miss one during the year, which is very possible when you were short on nickels, er, now dimes. Bummer.
Baseball in 1970
Awards and Honors
Rookie of the Year
Curt Flood, Gold Glove outfielder of the St. Louis Cardinals, filed a civil lawsuit challenging Major League Baseball's reserve clause, a suit that will have historic implications. Flood refused to report to the Philadelphia Phillies after he was traded by the Cardinals three months earlier, contending the baseball rule violated federal antitrust laws.
On January 17th the The Sporting News named Willie Mays Player of the Decade for the 1960s.
On April 22nd the Mets' Tom Seaver struck out 19 Padres, including the last 10 in succession, to win 2-1.
On July 3rd Clyde Wright of the California Angels in a ceremony before the Angels' game in Oakland was inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame for Carson Newman College and then no-hit the Athletics 4-0.
On July 14th the National League wins its eighth straight All-Star Game in 12-innings 5–4 victory when Pete Rose crashes into Indians catcher Ray Fosse to score the winning run. Fosse is taken to the hospital and never plays as well.
On July 20th Bill Singer of the Dodgers no-hits the Phillies 5-0.
On July 26th Johnny Bench hit three straight homers off Steve Carlton of the St. Louis Cardinals. On the same day, Orlando Cepeda connected for three consecutive homers in an Atlanta victory over the Cubs.
On September 21st Vida Blue of the Oakland Athletics no-hits the Minnesota Twins 6-0.
In October the Baltimore Orioles beat the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series, 4 games to 1.
The World of 1970
Yes, now it was time to deal with change. The youth continued to protest the war and at Kent State the National Guard fought unarmed students. The killing of four and the wounding of nine students changed the focus of a country. Nixon would reduce the number of troops and the voting age was reduced from 21 to 18, largely due to the prevailing thought that if you are old enough to fight for your country you should be old enough to vote.
The Viet Nam War continued though there was hope that a Republican President Nixon could put an end to it. Henry Kissinger entered secret peace talks in Paris.
The War from My Perspective
For myself baseball cards were not on my mind. I finished my final year in college and received my Engineering Degree from U of I. I never did see my diploma come in the mail because I was in basic training at Fort Lewis Washington. One of my best recollections of that time was during a night infiltration course exercise when I was lying on my back in about six inches of cold, muddy water underneath a barbed wire obstacle with an M16 across my chest and machine gun fire a few feet over my head as I watched a passenger airliner fly above me and thought, Do you even know what I am doing for you? For anyone in the Army who would not see live action, this would likely be the scariest time in their lives.
I remember as a businessman many years later flying from Seattle to Chicago and shortly after takeoff seeing the machine gun tracer fire from a night exercise at Fort Lewis. I looked out of the windows from my comfortable seat and said softly, "Thanks for what you're doing." And I thought to myself for having gone through that experience, Nothing seems really hard anymore.
After basic training I was off to Fort Benning, Georgia where after digging ditches in rattle snake-infested woods for a couple of months I worked on computer simulations for firing ranges dedicated to testing Army equipment with the Army Rangers. I was part of a minority who would not see Viet Nam.
While I was at Ft. Benning the trial of Lt. William Calley began. He was convicted on March 29, 1971 and sentenced to life imprisonment for the premeditated murder of 22 Vietnamese civilians. Many Americans were outraged by Calley's sentence. The White House received over 5000 telegrams which were 100 to 1 in favor of leniency. In defense of Calley Commanding Officer Chae Myung Shin of the South Korean Vietnam Expeditionary Forces remarked, "Calley tried to get revenge for the deaths of his troops. In a war, this is natural." Calley served only three and a half years of house arrest in his quarters at Fort Benning. To this day he is apologetic, but insists he was just following orders.
Fighting wars just got harder in this new way of life.
The North Tower of the World Trade Center was topped out at 1,368 feet becoming the tallest building in the world.
Xerox PARC computer laboratory opened in Palo Alto, California. It was as a division of Xerox Corporation responsible for computer-related developments such as laser printing, the Ethernet, the modern personal computer, the graphical user interface (GUI), and object-oriented programming of which much of the credit ultimately went to IBM and Apple.
Bar codes were used for the first time for retail and industrial use in England.
The population expands as the US has 85 people per sq mile, while Japan has 1,083.
We began to take things for granted. While the US won the space race it was astonishing to some that the moon launches would become a blasé event. That ended when Apollo 13 suffered an explosion and the world watched as NASA engineers worked to save the lives of the astronauts.
The first Earth Day was celebrated in schools across the country to demonstrate the need for environmental controls. It was not a protest to save the planet, but more of a demonstration to make people aware of the dangers of leaded gas and belching smokestacks, both a symbol of a successful economy. It seemed to have a hint of the Hippie Movement to it, but over time it has grown into an organization whose intention is to prevent us from killing ourselves.
Later in the year the United States Environmental Protection Agency was established.
The Women's Movement made great strides in 1970 with a strike that celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment giving them the right to vote. “Don’t iron while the strike is hot,” was their chant as they protested for equal rights. At the time men did not know if was it safe or appropriate for them to open doors for women. Women rightfully gained access to more rights and chivalry died.
The Houston Women's Invitation with Sponsor Virginia Slims was the first women only tournament held in protest to the unfair distribution of prize money at tennis events. Eight women, including Billie Jean King, played.
While production ended on "The Unsafe at Any Speed" Chevrolet Corvair, the AMC Gremlin and Ford Pinto and Maverick were introduced. On the bright side Dodge introduced the Challenger and Chevrolet released the second generation Camaro.
In music the change was significant and many have still not gotten over it. The Beatles broke up and each of them went on to record songs of their own. Jimi Hendrix died of a barbiturate overdose in England. Janis Joplin died in a motor hotel from a heroin overdose in West Hollywood. Simon and Garfunkel released Bridge Over Troubled Water, which won the Grammy for song of the year. It would be their last album together. Diana Ross & The Supremes performed their last live concert together in Las Vegas. Elvis Presley began his first concert tour since 1958 in Phoenix, skipping the sixties to make movies.
The sixties were a thing of the past.
over Troubled Water"
TV in 1970
The Mary Tyler Moore Show, featured its star as an unmarried professional woman.
The Public Broadcasting Service aired.
TV Top Ten
Top Movies 1970
A New Decade
Yes, 1970 was the end of the 1960s in more ways than just a number. The turbulent times needed to change for us to continue without self-destructing. We continued facing the new way of life with a much different outlook. The times would become more practical for many; but, in many ways it was also the beginning of an end to the many things that made this country great, including how baseball cards were collected.