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1969-70 Topps Basketball Cards

By Patrick Mondout

Topps distributed this oversized (2.5" by 4 11/16") set of basketball cards in 10 wax packs (see picture below), which contained 10 cards and a "ruler" insert (see picture below). There are 98 player cards and one checklist - there are no subsets.

The ruler inserts were printed on paper and folded as their size (2.5" by 9 7/8") made them far too big to fit in the wax packs in other way. They feature one real player drawn as a cartoon that is skinnier relative the guy's actual size than a Barbie doll is to the average Barbie-basher. Next to the player is a not-to-scale ruler showing the players reported height. In case you are collecting the Topps Rulers, note that there is no #5 ruler - it was never issued.

The cards themselves - nicknamed "Tall Boys" - are very collectable and popular and feature a posed photo of the player with a vivid color for a background within a large oval, with the some part of the player extending beyond the border into the white border area. The white border area has four black and white drawings of basketball players - one in each corner around the player's oval. They player's name is typeset across the top of the card in red while the player's city is at the bottom - also in red. The player's position is below their name, but not always centered and whether or not they were left, right or centered seems to be pretty random (you can find cards were a player's head sticking out of the oval "forced" the position to the left or right, but others with the same amount of head protruding and the position centered above the head).

The backs of the cards - with pink and blue writing on a grayish background - have a clean and attractive design with biographical information as well as statistics as you can see below. 

Fleer was the only other major producer of cards in this era and its one and only set was in 1961. That fact and the fact that this was Topps first true set (the '68 test issue of 22 cards with a Wilt Chamberlain puzzle back doesn't really count - and its $20K and up if you can find it) since '57-58 means that this set featured a large number of rookie cards. That list starts with Lew Alcindor, who of course changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and went on to become the all-time scoring leader and win many titles. In top condition, the card easily tops $1K (check eBay for recent prices with our links on the right). Other rookie cards included: Elvin Hayes, Lenny Wilkins, Jerry Lucas, Earl 'The Pearl' Monroe, Connie Hawkins, Walt Frazier, John Havlicek, Willis Reed, Dave DeBusschere, Dave Bing, Gail Goodrich, Billy Cunningham, Don Nelson, Nate Thurmond, Wes Unseld, and former Democratic presidential hopeful Senator Bill Bradley.

1969-70 Topps at a Glance
Back Checklist Wax Pack
John Havlicek Wes Unseld Ruler Inserts

Because of their size and some quality control issues that left many cards off-center (my Bill Bradley card uncharacteristically right of center), this set is difficult to complete in high grade. For those brave and resource set 69-70 Topps Basketball collectors, a complete checklist follows:
1 Wilt Chamberlain
2 Gail Goodrich
3 Cazzie Russell
4 Darrall Imhoff
5 Bailey Howell
6 Lucius Allen
7 Tom Boerwinkle
8 Jimmy Walker
9 John Block
10 Nate Thurmond
11 Gary Gregor
12 Gus Johnson
13 Luther Rackley
14 Jon McGlocklin
15 Connie Hawkins
16 Johnny Egan
17 Jim Washington
18 Dick Barnett
19 Tom Meschery
20 John Havlicek
21 Eddie Miles
22 Walt Wesley
23 Rick Adelman
24 Al Attles
25 Lew Alcindor
26 Jack Marin
27 Walt Hazzard
28 Connie Dierking
29 Keith Erickson
30 Bob Rule
31 Dick Van Arsdale
32 Archie Clark
33 Terry Dischinger
34 Henry Finkel
35 Elgin Baylor
36 Ron Williams
37 Loy Peterson
38 Guy Rodgers
39 Toby Kimball
40 Billy Cunningham
41 Joe Caldwell
42 Leroy Ellis
43 Bill Bradley
44 Len Wilkens
45 Jerry Lucas
46 Neal Walk
47 Emmette Bryant
48 Bob Kauffman
49 Mel Counts
50 Oscar Robertson
51 Jim Barnett
52 Don Smith
53 Jim Davis
54 Wally Jones
55 Dave Bing
56 Wes Unseld
57 Joe Ellis
58 John Tresvant
59 Larry Siegfried
60 Willis Reed
61 Paul Silas
62 Bob Weiss
63 Willie McCarter
64 Don Kojis
65 Lou Hudson
66 Jim King
67 Luke Jackson
68 Len Chappell
69 Ray Scott
70 Jeff Mullins
71 Howie Komives
72 Tom Sanders
73 Dick Snyder
74 Dave Stallworth
75 Elvin Hayes
76 Art Harris
77 Don Ohl
78 Bob Love
79 Tom Van Arsdale
80 Earl Monroe
81 Greg Smith
82 Don Nelson
83 Happy Hairston
84 Hal Greer
85 Dave Debusschere
86 Bill Bridges
87 Herm Gilliam
88 Jim Fox
89 Bob Boozer
90 Jerry West
91 Chet Walker
92 Flynn Robinson
93 Clyde Lee
94 Kevin Loughery
95 Walt Bellamy
96 Art Williams
97 Adrian Smith
98 Walt Frazier
99 Checklist


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Year: 1969

Manufacturer: Topps

# of Cards: 99

Value/Price: Check eBay (see links below)

Size: 2 x 4 11/16

Image courtesy of Topps

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