I’m a sucker for food issue promo sets.
Seriously, I just eat them up.
While the original Bazooka baseball cards date back to the 50’s and 60s, collector’s in the 80’s went without a new Bazooka card until 1988. Topps included one card from the 22 card set in specially marked boxes of gum. I remember leaving the normal wax and cello packs on the shelf, and spending my dollars on these “party boxes” instead. Each box had several individually wrapped pieces of gum, complete with a comic, and one baseball card.
The 22 card set contained many of the big names from that era, but I remember being disappointed that Ryne Sandberg was the only Cub. I mean, the Cardinals had three of the 22 cards? Wade Boggs, Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire, and Cal Ripken Jr. were some of the popular cards in the set, but some of the other names just made you scratch your head a bit.
Juan Samuel was the lone representative of the Phillies. I guess the fact that he was just coming off a 27 HR and 100 RBI 1987 season was enough to garner him some extra attention. Whoever put the checklist together must also have been a fan of relief pitchers. Two of the 22 spots were reserved for Todd Worrell and Dave Righetti. They were both solid players in their own right, but looking back, they just seem to be odd choices for a product with such a limited checklist. That being said, it is nice to see some variety, and not the same bunch of players in every product.
The card design was very basic. The player’s photo was surrounded by a white border, and the Topps logo, team and player name were housed in a box in the lower right corner which was designed to look like a Bazooka gum wrapper. The red, white, and blue card back might be my favorite part of the set. They contained a full Bio, complete MLB stats, and a notable achievement from their career. For instance, did you know that Tony Fernandez set the single season hit record for a shortstop in 1986? That record of 213 hits stood until 1996 when Alex Rodriguez broke it with 215.
This is another one of those sets that isn’t super common, but also not hard to find. Complete sets can be purchased from $5-10 delivered on eBay, and most every player’s single cards can be found for .18 plus shipping on Sportlots.
I had fun looking back through this set and reliving some of those memories of building this set as an 11 year old. It took a lot of gum to piece it together. It would have been much easier if COMC and Sportlots were around for sure! Topps Bazooka sets continued for the next several years, and I’ll be covering those sets in future posts!
Cal Ripken Jr.