CSG Registry Featured Set: 1968 Topps Baseball

Posted on 3/3/2022

This month’s featured set belongs to AJ Duffy. CSG had the opportunity to chat with set owner AJ Duffy and learn more about his collection.

Our featured set this month is AJ by AJ Duffy, a post-war era company set. (Be sure to check out CSG's recent Q&A with AJ Duffy at the end of this article.) The 1968 Topps Baseball card set is packed with Hall of Famers and anchored by two key rookie cards, #177 Nolan Ryan, and #247 Johnny Bench. The #177 Jerry Koosman/Nolan Ryan Rookie Card has an uncorrected error on its reverse, when the second ‘s’ was left out of the word ‘sensational’ within Ryan’s bio. This card is considered one of the most important vintage baseball cards in the hobby and the most valuable from this set; AJ Duffy has an example graded CSG 2.5.

Two cards from the set. Click images to enlarge.

Other notable key cards AJ Duffy displays are #80 Rod Carew (CSG 4.5), #110 Hank Aaron (CSG 4), #150 Roberto Clemente (CSG 3.5), #230 Pete Rose (CSG 4) and #490 Harmon Killebrew/Willie Mays/Mickey Mantle (CSG 5). All of these are among the most valuable cards to look for from this set.

The CSG Registry launched in September 2021, and now has over 800 competitive sets available with over 1,400 registry users. The CSG Chat Boards continue to be active with requests for new sets and slots, and we appreciate your enthusiasm. Our CSG Registry team continues to add new sets daily and welcome your requests as it provides us with the opportunity to learn about your collecting interests.

The CSG Registry is a free online platform where collectors can register and display CSG-certified sports cards. It also helps you to organize your collection and interact with other collectors. Begin adding your CSG-certified cards in the CSG Registry here.

We are just getting started! If you don’t see a set for your cards, request a new set type here.

The CSG Registry team is here to help. Questions or comments? Go to the CSG Registry Chat Boards.

Q&A with AJ Duffy

Question: How did you get into collecting sports cards?
Answer: I grew up overseas in Sydney and Singapore for most of my childhood after being born in the US. I had a few cards from back in the day, but never thought much of it. On an off-chance, I picked up a box from Target one day in the early 2000s – 2002 Fleer Greats of the Game – but when I got home I found someone had already gone through and picked through the cards and tried to put it back together. I emailed the company, not expecting much, but they agreed to send a new box. I had picked up a retail box, and they sent back a Hot Hobby Box – hit after hit after hit. After that, I was hooked. Went into my local hobby shops, found the best wholesale sites, became a sucker for the late-night shop-at-home informercials with the big boxes of collectibles – anything to grow my collection. I set up my own little storefront with my bookshelves in my childhood room – I loved just going through everything and seeing how big my collection was growing.

Question: What are you favorite sports teams and/or athletes to follow?
Answer: My grandfather sold peanuts at the Polo Grounds back in the day, but when the Giants left New York, my family slowly started drifting to either the Yankees or the Mets. I ended up on the Yankees side of things. My grandmother was also a big fan of the New York Jets, but we try not to talk about that one too much. As far as players, I like seeing things that have never been done before – pretty invested in record-breaking stats, like Pete Alonso a few years ago, Ohtani last year, Trout every other year. Anyone and anything that keeps the sport fresh and interesting. Mickey Mantle is my favorite player of all time, both for collecting and on the field, so I think I gravitate toward Trout a lot because of that.

Question: What was your favorite card once you got into collecting? What made it your favorite?
Answer: It seemed like when I first got serious into collecting, each box had some sort of Cal Ripken hit or insert – I had always liked him as a player, even if he was a divisional rival, so a lot of my early collection revolves around him. The first rookie card I remember tracking down for my personal collection was his 1982 Topps. It had remained one of my favorites until I got older and started to get into more vintage items from the ‘50s and ‘60s – I had a ton to choose from at that point.

Question: Do you have a different favorite card now? If so, what is it and what makes it special to you?
Answer: Over the past few years, I’ve been hitting a lot of store liquidations, estate sales, etc., to grow my collection more, but especially with respect to the vintage post-World War II era. I was able to add plenty of Mantle, Koufax, Aaron, Mays, Banks, etc., to my collection, but very few proper rookie cards. I started my search for the Nolan Ryan 1968 Topps rookie card – mostly because it was attainable in my budget, compared to the Mickey Mantle and Hank Aaron rookies out there, but also the legacy of Ryan himself and the 1969 Miracle Mets. I had found a few cards in beat-up shape, but never pulled the trigger – that was, until I was lucky enough to find an online estate sale selling the entire 1968 set, with what appeared to be a pretty good condition Ryan rookie for the same price as I had seen some of the beat-up single Ryan cards. I couldn’t let that one pass me by. I was absolutely enthralled by it – a little off-centered, but honestly, otherwise pretty solid all around. The more I looked at the card, I fell in love with it – the design, the back, the inserts – 1968 really is one of the most underappreciated sets out there. And besides, the Ryan rookie, I don’t know if it gets the credit it deserves. The fact that the league leaders/All-Stars/inserts create a puzzle with the back of their cards is just a fun feature in itself.

Question: We’re featuring your 1968 Topps baseball set. What drew you to this particular one?
Answer: See above!

Question: Is there a card out there you’re hoping to add to your collection? Similarly, is there a set you hope to complete someday?
Answer: I would love to have a 1952 Topps Mantle in my collection one day, but I’m not holding my breath. Happy to keep adding my base card Mantles just as well. I’ve never gone into collecting looking for full sets – really just a mix of adding historic vintage cards that make me happy for whatever reason, with the added thrill of opening a new box here and there to see what I can pull. The rarer the better – I like having unique items in my collection that few other people can say they also have.

Question: What do you enjoy most about adding your cards to the CSG Registry?
Answer: At first I was just curious as to how many “points” my Ryan rookie, MJ Rookie, and Mickey Mantles would count for, but then I wanted to see how many points I could get overall, and just kept going. Had a nice little collection going for 1968 Topps! I also enjoy going through and seeing what other collectors have – it’s almost inspiration to continue to grow the collection in certain areas.

Question: What would you say to other sports cards collectors who may be on the fence about adding their cards to the CSG Registry?
Answer: It’s quick, it’s easy, it’s fun, and it makes CSG customers feel like a community.

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