Mets Card of the Week: 1970 Tom Seaver box


The dominant pack configuration for Topps baseball cards throughout the ’50s and ’60s was the 5-cent wax pack: five cards and a stick of gum for your hard-earned nickel.

Topps also offered less-common 1-cent wax packs through until the mid ’60s– these change-makers gave you gum and one card for a penny.

In addition, the company issued various iterations of rack packs throughout the ’60s, some containing three individually wrapped windows of 10-12 cards each, and others made up of three unmarked 10-cent cello packs.

Topps seemed to flirt with the idea of marketing discrete cello packs more aggressively in 1964 and 1969, producing colorfully wrapped ten-card packs in both years. (The 1964 cellos even doubled up on the coin inserts, placing two of the metal discs face down on the top of each pack.)

But the 1970 cellos represented a bold new step for the company. These packs were big 33-card bricks, which retailed for a quarter. The packs themselves were unmarked, but they were nestled inside green cardboard boxes that contained small cutout windows, giving the buyer a partial view of the top card.

I was an active bidder in a recent auction for this empty 1970 cello-pack box, but once the price crested above three digits, I bowed out.

And how could I justify even considering dropping $100 on an empty box? Well, it’s all about the Tom Seaver “card” that appears on the box art.

Seaver’s regular-issue 1970 Topps card contains a slightly impassive portrait shot of The Franchise, who was coming off a dominant 25-win campaign for the Miracle Mets.

The “alternate” Seaver card on this box shows him in the mock follow-through pose that graced a thousand Topps cards in the ’60s.

I assume that the box design was finalized prior to the proofing and approval of the card set, and that someone made the subsequent decision that Seaver commanded the dignity of a capped head shot in the regular set.

And as much as I agree with that choice aesthetically, I confess that I’m enough of a trainspotter to be a bit dazzled by the fact that there exists an officially issued variation of Seaver’s 1970 Topps card…

6 comments for “Mets Card of the Week: 1970 Tom Seaver box

    May 16, 2012 at 8:18 am

    I am a huge Tom Seaver fan with a pretty extensive collection of his older memorabilia. I have never seen or heard of this box. I would drop $100 on it in a heartbeat. I am always on the lookout of “oddball” Tom Seaver collectibles. Nice!

  2. May 16, 2012 at 8:23 am

    This is beyond cool!

    But, I have to say I do not agree with that choice aesthetically, like you do. The Seaver card on the box is 1,000X better. While it wasn’t an exact copy of the 1969 Seaver card (which Topps certainly did to many other players) it was similar enough to make the decision to switch away from the one pictured on the box the wrong one. C’mon – his 1968 card was basically the same, too. Three years in a row they gave Seaver the same “slightly impassive portrait.” It was fine for his ’68 card. They should have done something different in ’69 and all collectors should feel cheated that they didn’t do better for a guy coming off a 25-win season and a World Championship.

  3. Doug Parker
    May 16, 2012 at 10:49 am

    I hear what you’re saying about the variety, Brian…

    We finally got our mock follow-through pose in 1971, but given all of the in-game action shots of Mets that appeared in that set, I view this as another missed opportunity.

    I guess I finally got my wish with the 1974 Seaver, which takes me back to my first-ever Card of the Week post (sniff, sniff):

  4. Nick
    January 3, 2013 at 8:27 pm

    TMSVRFAN , I have some AP Photos of Seaver from 77 when he was traded to the Reds. Seaver /Bench, Seaver /Rose, Seaver /Anderson, Seaver in Action all with captions on bottom If Interested contact me at

  5. January 9, 2013 at 9:18 am

    Nick, I asked this on another article, but did not get a response….

    I am not a collector, but would love an autographed Seaver baseball. Can you tell me, roughly, what they go for? It is difficult to trust ebay.

    thank you.

  6. Doug Parker
    January 9, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    Peter, I don’t know if Nick will see this, so I just wanted to jump in. You should be able to pick up a nice Seaver auto ball for under $100. eBay can be trusted as long as you’re careful to shop with high feedback sellers and look for an authenticated (PSA/DNA, preferably) ball.

    Good luck!

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