Card of the Moment #30
June 13th, 2010 by slangon

1970 Topps Scratch-Offs Tom Seaver

This is another of the awesome cards that I got in a trade with Chris from Project ’62.

It’s a Topps Baseball Scratch-Off from 1970. Insert cards are still really prevalent in card releases now-a-days, but it seems like they’re much more of the small-sub-set-with-a-common-theme-but-just-still-a-regular-old-card-nonetheless variety. In this years Topps flagship set, for example, I really like the Legendary Lineage inserts, but they’re just a plain card. I also really like the Turkey Reds, and maybe you could argue that it’s more than a regular card just because it’s printed on old-timey, textured card stock, but I feel like that’s a bit of a stretch.

It seems like Topps really had their hey-day of wacky insert cards in the 60’s and early 70’s. Aside from a couple of issues of these scratch-offs, they did stamps for a few years, had embossed cards, deckle edged cards, posters and game cards. They also toyed with 3-D cards, buttons, coins, plaques and punch-out cards that I believe were more test-issues than actual releases. If you haven’t done so already, I strongly suggest you checkout the Topps Archives blog, as they do an incredible job of exploring all things out of the ordinary from the Topps universe.

Anyway, back to Tom. As I said, he comes from a 1970 insert set called Baseball Scratch-Offs. From the Standard Card Catalog:

Not having given up on the idea of a game which could be played with baseball cards, Topps provided a new game – the baseball scratch-off – in 1970. Unfolded, cards measure 3 3/8″ x 5″, and reveal a baseball game played by rubbing the black ink off playing squares to determine the “action”. Fronts have a player picture as “captain”, while backs have instructions and a scoreboard. Inserts with white centers are from 1970 while those with red centers are from 1971.

This is the interior of the Seaver card, indicating that it was from the 1970 issue. According to Old Baseball Cards, the 1971 version is harder to find, although there is no book value difference between the 2. I find that a little odd as now I own 4 of these and 3 of them are from 1971. As you can see, this one is not scratched off.

The idea was that you would get one of these cards, you buddy would get another one. You would decide who was the home team and who was the away team. Then you would start scratching the squares, which would reveal some kind of play action, such as Strikeout or Double or Fly Out. You would keep scratching until you accumulated 3 outs, after which the other guy would go and so on until you played all 9 innings. I’m not quite sure what would happen if you were tied after 9 and had to go into extra innings and then ran out of squares. I would venture to guess a lot of 10-year-old fist fights started that way.

Here’s the inside of a 1971 Hank Aaron Scratch-Off that I got a while back so you can see both the red 1971 version and what the card looks like scratched off.

What’s interesting is that initially I wasn’t sure if you were supposed to scratch the squares from left to right, or from top to bottom. On this Hank card, if you go left to right, you have two strikeouts, a single, an RBI triple, a walk and a strikeout to end the 1st inning. Then you start the second with a strikeout and then a double play. A double play? With nobody on? I guess you’re supposed to go top to bottom. Let’s see. Strikeout, walk, single, 3 run homer, single (Geez, this dude is getting lit up in the 1st inning), fly out and strikeout to end the 1st. Then again, you start the 2nd with a double play. Weird.

Maybe you’re just supposed to scratch the squares all willy-nilly like, just picking them at random. Although I supposed you could still end up with a double play with nobody on that way as well. Oh well. I guess that means more 10-year-old fist fights.

So there you have it. These are a pretty cool, albeit a little weird, insert set from the early 70’s. I don’t think I would try to collect them, but since the other 3 that I have are all 71’s, I am glad to have an example of the 1970 version. I’m also glad to have gotten the only Met on the checklist.

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