In 1969, kids could plunk down a dime in exchange for a few Topps cards and a stick of gum. Topps, originally a chewing gum company, had cracked a code in the 1950s: kids (and, let’s face it, some grownups) would buy Topps chewing gum if the package also contained collectible cards featuring a baseball player’s photograph, stats and biographical details. Tobacco companies had previously used this strategy for adults to boost the sale of cigarettes, but Topps revolutionized baseball fandom and American kid culture by giving young folks an opportunity to “collect” their heroes. The packages came wrapped up, so you never knew what cards you were going to get and trading cards with your buddies became a common practice. If you’re lucky enough to still have a shoebox full of these guys, they may be worth a pretty penny, as these cardboard cutouts are still prized by collectors today.
LEAVE ME YOUR CARD