The 1970 baseball card season marked some significant milestones and changes from years past. Most notably, it was the final season that Topps had exclusive rights to produce MLB cards, as Fleer was granted a license starting in 1971 and would become the first competitor to Topps in over 20 years.

Topps’ 1970 set includes 792 total cards and is considered one of the most visually appealing designs of the entire 1960s-70s era. The photos featured clean solid colors in the borders and bright, crisp images of the players. Topps also included taller card stock compared to previous years for an improved overall look.

Some legendary players featured include Hank Aaron’s only card released as a Brave, as he would join the Brewers in 1971. Others included Tom Seaver’s second year card and Nolan Ryan’s rookie. However, Ryan’s card is particularly notable as it does not include any mention of his pitching stats from 1969, as Topps finalized the designs before the 1969 season ended.


In terms of rookie cards, other notables included Dave McNally, Reggie Jackson, Johnny Bench, Joe Torre, and Tommy Helms. Bench and Jackson would both go on to have Hall of Fame careers. Their 1970 rookies are notoriously difficult to obtain in gem mint condition today.

The 1970 set also featured position players on the front of the cards for the first time since 1963. This change was popular with collectors. Topps also included paper stock that was better suited for the color printing process compared to previous thin card years like 1969. Genuine mint samples from 1970 have excellent color retention.

Beyond the player cards, the 1970 set is also known for several popular subsets and oddball parallel issues. This includes separate cards for the major league baseball hall of fame inductees from that year, the 1970 All-Star teams, and commemorative cards highlighting MLB’s 50th anniversary. Topps even produced special oversized commemorative anniversary cards of Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson, and others.


Additionally, Topps produced rare test prints and advertising proofs over the course of the 1970 design and production process that are extremely valuable to advanced collectors. This includes limited examples printed on foil or acetate stock that were never intended for official release. Proof samples showcase the developmental process.

When it came to the 1970 design, Topps also had to make adjustments to comply with the newly formed Major League Baseball Players Association. This was the same year players were first able to individually license theirimage rights and negotiate contracts apart from their team contracts. As a result, Topps added player signature strips to the bottom of each card to confirm image rights.

As far as the condition of 1970 cards in the current collecting market, high quality near-mint and gem mint samples fetch prices well above other comparable mid-late 1960s seasons. This is likely due to fewer cases being printed overall as interest in the hobbytemporarily waned during that era. The sheer size of the set makes complete runs challenging to assemble. Keys to completion are the rookies, Hall of Famers, and tough-to-find All Star subset.


The 1970 Topps baseball card set was the pinnacle of the design style of the late 1960s while also bridging changes to come as competition emerged. Legacy rookie cards of future legends were issued alongside the final year of Topps’ monopoly. Combined with innovative parallels and proofs, it remains one of the most iconic releases that adds richness to the history of the modern baseball card era.

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