5 Must-Have Cards From The 1960 Baseball Set
1960 was a memorable year in Major League Baseball.
Legends like Mickle Mantle, Willie Mays, and Roger Maris were in the primes of their careers. The league was on the precipice of a new era. Interest in the MLB had never been higher.
The ensuing decade would see 8 expansion teams and 3 new major TV deals, and in many ways, the 1960 season was a bridge from a bygone time to baseball as we know it today.
And the World Series?
In what is considered one of the most thrilling and unlikely championships in the league’s long history, the Pittsburgh Pirates won over the massively favored Yankees after Bill Mazerowski launched a series ending homer in Game 7.
Perhaps equally as memorable as the season itself is the 1960 Topps baseball cards set.
This collection features vibrant and bold lettering, two notable rookies, and a unique horizontal layout, resulting in a classic set to memorialize a classic season.
Any collector who values unique design elements and bright colors is sure to love the Topps 1960 baseball set.
A design unlike any other
By 1960, Topps was clearly positioned as the nation’s premier baseball card manufacturer. 5 years prior, Topps bought out its rival Bowman, and had secured the exclusive right to photograph players in their current team uniforms.
This complete control of the industry allowed them to take more design risks, and no year quite captures that reality like the 1960 set.
One of this set’s most unique features is its horizontal format.
Even though some of the previous collections, such as Topps 1955, had featured horizontal cards, this was the final year that Topps would use this format for an entire set. For collectors, there are a few specific appeals to the horizontal layout.
For one, it gives the cards a style that is distinct from other years. You can look at a 1960 Topps card and know almost immediately that it’s a 1960 Topps card. Horizontal cards are displayed differently and they tend to stand out when featured among more generic vertical cards.
Secondly, the horizontal design allowed Topps to use a split-pane background and dual-player images. Unlike most vertical cards that feature only a single picture of a player, the 1960 set features a close-up image, complemented by a full body action shot, which on most cards is a player at bat.
On a vertical card, this layout would look crowded and awkward. However, with the horizontal format, it’s clean, visually appealing, and a distinct feature of the 1960 Topps cards.
Another stylistic feature that sets the 1960 release apart is the player names. Instead of printing them in a single color, Topps chose to alternate colors for each letter.
It was a bold choice, and is still regarded with mixed opinions. But it certainly makes the player’s name pop.
No matter your thoughts on its visual appeal, the alternating color patterns contribute significantly to this set’s distinctive look.
1960 Topps baseball cards most valuable
The 1960 Topps baseball set features a good mix of popular players, along with some valuable rookies. These are the five 1960 Topps baseball cards most valuable from the release
Mickey Mantle 1960 Topps baseball card
It should come as no surprise to collectors that Mantle tops this list.
The 20x All-Star, switch-hitting legend is a near-unanimous favorite in every Topps set. Or at least every set that he appears in.
The 1960 set offers an interesting historical draw for Mantle collectors. Not only did he lead the AL in home runs, but also played a prominent role in his team’s historic World Series loss.
A PSA 7 of this card is currently appraised at around $2,000, and mints have sold for as high as $35,000.
And to think that a kid could have lucked into this card at a corner store for 1 cent, with the Topps single-card penny packs they offered back in the day!
There are few players that are as beloved by their fan bases as Carl Yastrzemski, or “Yaz”, is by the fans of the Boston Red Sox.
Yaz played all 23 of his MLB seasons for Boston. He currently holds the League’s record for the most number of games played with a single team.
Yaz’s card was one of the few in the entire collection to feature just a single image, contained in a circular frame. On top of that, the image is a painting, not a photograph, serving as a nod to some of the Topps sets from the early 50s.
Those who are familiar with Yaz’s career will notice a funny inconsistency on this card — while it lists his position as 2nd base, Yaz never played a single game at 2nd in his entire career.
A PSA 7 goes for around $750, and a mint card sold for $20,000 in 2014.
The second rookie card from this collection belongs to Hall-of-Famer Willie McCovey.
While the McCovey card hasn’t reached the same value as Yaz’s, the rookie card of any future hall-of-famer is going to warrant a fair bit of interest.
McCovey’s card is also unique from others in the set. He was featured as an “all-star rookie”, voted on by the “youth of America” based on his play from the previous year.
We personally love the design of this card. With Willie holding the bat on one side, and an eye-catching seal of stardom on the other, the card seems certain of the HOF player Willie was destined to become.
McCovey was a big hitter, placing in the top 10 all-time in home runs when he retired.
A PSA 7 is worth $350, and in 2015 a mint sold for $15,000.
Clemente is remembered for his big personality, his big heart, and his tragic passing in a plane crash at the age of 38 while on his way to deliver disaster relief to earthquake victims. He was beloved by many, and that legacy lives on in the hearts of collectors.
His career, in which he logged over 3,000 hits and a .300 lifetime batting average, landed him in the Hall of Fame only a year after his death in 1973.
He was also the first Latin-American player to enter the Hall of Fame.
While Clemente’s cards are universally desired, his 1960 campaign is of particular interest because it was the year of his first World Series title. Clemente played a big part in the Pirate’s upset win, notching at least a base hit in all 7 games, and is a notable fixture in the history of the 1960 season.
1960 Topps Roberto Clemente basball cards in a PSA 7 are valued at $225 and have sold for as high as $15,000 in mint condition.
1960 Topps Hank Aaron baseball card
Alongside Mantle, Hank Aaron is typically a centerpiece of any collection he’s part of.
Collectors who want in on Aaron cards in good condition know that it comes with a price.
Aaron is one of the greatest players in the League’s 150-year history, retiring as the all-time leader in home runs, RBI’s, and total bases.
Hammerin’ Hank’s reputation as an all-time great won’t be diminished anytime soon, so the demand for Aaron cards should remain sky-high. In fact, the value of many of his cards has doubled over the past year, a phenomenon likely compounded by the increased attention after his death in January 2021.
While some of that increase could be permanent, there are signs that the bubble might pop soon. We recommend waiting at least another year to get the best bang for your buck on Aaron cards.
While Aaron’s 1960 card isn’t necessarily his highest value card, it still comes from a year in the prime of his career. Coupled with the unique design, this is a must-have card for Aaron collectors.
PSA 7 cards are currently running for $500, and mints have been reported to have gone for higher than $40,000!
Cardlines pick from the 1960 Set
Our pick is the Yastrzemski rookie.
In a year that featured rookie cards from three other future Hall-of-Famers (McCovey, Frank Howard, and Jim Kaat), Yaz’s card has separated itself from the pack.
Sure, this collection features cards from Mantle and Aaron, but they aren’t among the players’ most valuable cards. The Yaz rookie is, on the other hand, arguably the most sought after Red Sox card in the entire history of the franchise (though some Ted Williams fans might have something to say about that.)
When you factor in its interesting design, Yaz’s adoring fanbase, and its general reputation among collectors, this card emerges as the top prize of this special set.
Bottomline on Topps 1960 Baseball Cards
The 1960 Topps set is certainly one that stands out from other years in the era. Its colors, patterns and horizontal orientation give it a distinct look that expert collectors will recognize.
We also love that this collection comes from a year in which Topps owned exclusive rights for baseball card photographs, so there were no issues creating cards for the top players.
Anyone looking to complete their collection from 1960 can rest easy knowing that they own all of the year’s best ballplayers, have a few high-caliber rookies, and own an aesthetically pleasing set that is sure to hold its value for the foreseeable future.