Card of the Day: 1970 Topps Vida Blue / Gene Tenace rookie card

Imagine a dual rookie card featuring an American League MVP and Cy Young award winner, and the MVP of a World Series. What would that be worth? Well, if that card were produced today in any of the Bowman Chrome sets we’d probably be looking at a card worth at least a hundred dollars, maybe more depending on what else the guys did in their career. But what about one featuring two players with the same accolades produced some 38 years ago? A whopping $4, or less than the price of a pack of 2007 Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects.

Of course the card I’m discussing today in the 1970 Topps Vida Blue and Gene Tenace dual rookie card.

This card is legendary in my mind. Growing in the San Francisco Bay Area just 40 miles away from Oakland, I spent much of my childhood watching the good fortunes of the A’s. And while my youth was spent cheering for the Bash Brothers, Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco, I was also subjected to the flashbacks of the 70s. The days of Catfish Hunter, Reggie Jackson, and of course Gene Tenace and Vida Blue. I was not alive when these two led the A’s to three straight World Series Championships in 1972, 1973 and 1974. And perhaps my greatest memory of Tenace and Blue are not from the actual playing field, rather from RBI Baseball for Nintendo. But make no bones about it, their playing history is engrained in the Bay Area, particularly by their images being displayed at the Oakland Coliseum, and remain part of the mental image I have of baseball.

When I think of Tenace I think sleeveless Gold and Green Athletics jerseys with Old English letters across the front. I think of clutch hits and all-out hustle. And when I think about Blue, I think of a hard-throwing lefty with a hammer breaking ball, not unlike today’s Johan Santana.

But what’s interesting to me is how baseball memory does not always translate into hobby love. Now I’m not going to state that Tenace was the greatest player of his time or anything. That would be absurd. I mean the guy had a .241 career batting average. But for a catcher/first baseman who hit 20-plus homers four times, was the first guy to hit home runs in his first two World Series at-bats, an MVP of a World Series (1972) in which he slugged four homers en route to a championship, and a integral part of a dynasty that won three straight championships in a fairly large market, you’d think there’d be a little more demand for his rookie card.

And let’s not forget who else is pictured on that same card, because Blue was no shlub. He was a six-time all-star, played 17 seasons in The Bigs, racked up 2,175 strikeouts, and won more than 200 games
while being one of the hardest throwers in the game. He also tossed 143 complete games — good luck seeing that anytime soon — and 37 shutouts, the same number that Randy Johnson has, and more than Greg Maddux.

It’s funny how the hobby remembers certain players. In this case, I managed to pick up this card for $1.50 at a card show about six months ago. I think I paid more for my entry fee.

But this is precisely why I started this blog. It’s not to show off my best cards, rather to educate myself and others about who exactly is depicted on our cards, especially the vintage ones — the foundation of our hobby.

One Response to “Card of the Day: 1970 Topps Vida Blue / Gene Tenace rookie card”

  1. I have the VIDA BLUE / GENE TENACE card signed by VIDA BLUE . What is the value of this card?

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