Turning Over the 1960 Leaf Set (or, Am I Losing My Marbles?)

If you don’t know the 1960 Leaf set, let me be your guide.

First, they are beautiful, regular size cards featuring black and white portraits with a photo quality gloss and superior card stock. Second, it has a weird checklist, with very few big names, and even the big names aren’t that big (no Mantle, Mays, Aaron, Koufax, etc.) I like offbeat checklists (see my multiple posts on the 1936 Goudey Wide Pens Type 1 set). Third, the full set has only 144 cards, though the second series is way tougher than the first. Fourth, there aren’t too many variations and only one variation is pricey.

Let’s go deeper.

Before the real set hit candy stores and five and dimes, Leaf made eight cards in pre-production, similar to the final design, but not exactly the same. These “Big Heads” are expensive, like, in the thousands per card expensive. Luis Aparicio, usually a lower level Hall of Famer in demand and price, is the Babe Ruth/Mickey Mantle in this smattering of players.


The actual cards, though referenced as Leaf, were copyrighted to Sports Novelties, Inc. in Chicago. (Leaf was a Chicago based company, so there may be a connection between the two.) To avoid the Topps gum monopoly, the cards were issued with a marble. The first series is pretty attainable, relatively cheap. Lots can get you nice cards for less than a couple of bucks each.


The second series is the tough one. Commons (I’m hoping) can be snagged in the $5-6 range.  According to my beloved 2009 Standard Catalog, an influx of over 4,000 high numbers hit the hobby in the late 1990’s which helps. I’m starting to snoop around for bargains.

ser 2

The variations are few, but fun.

There’s this one:

Real Brooks Lawrence (not a variation)

Real Brooks

Real Jim Grant (variation)


Brooks Lawrence as Jim Grant


Why is Brooks Lawrence so much happier when he’s Jim Grant?

The Hal Smith card has three different backs, for those of you who care about that. The back information on these cards is like a short story, way too much for me.



No team

no name

Blacked out team, which will run you in the hundreds of dollars


Not a variation at all, but credit to Leaf for addressing the 1960 Hal Smith issue.


The second series has two errors (not variations), for a total of four players.

Obviously not Chuck Tanner (it’s Ken Kuhn)


Stover McIlwain (it’s actually Jim McAnany, but who would ever know)


It’s a lovely group of cards, with the higher priced names still reasonable – Aparicio (regular sized head, of course), Brooks Robinson (another Brooks entry), Duke Snider, Sparky Anderson, Orlando Cepeda and Jim Bunning.  You can come for the Hall of Famers. I’m in it for the Stover McIlwains.

Put your focus on the first series. I don’t need any competition as I search for low budget high numbers.

Author: Jeff Katz

Jeff Katz is the former Mayor of Cooperstown, the “Birthplace of Baseball” and home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. His latest book, Split Season:1981 - Fernandomania, the Bronx Zoo, and the Strike that Saved Baseball, (Thomas Dunne Books, 2015), received national attention, with coverage appearing in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Sporting News and NPR’s Only a Game, among others. Katz appeared on ESPN’s Olbermann and The Sporting Life with Jeremy Schaap and MLB Network’s MLB Now, with Brian Kenny. Split Season: 1981 was a finalist for the 2016 Casey Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year.

20 thoughts on “Turning Over the 1960 Leaf Set (or, Am I Losing My Marbles?)”

  1. You have lost your marbles, but this is a wonderful and informative post. I only knew these Fleers existed but not the details. Are the marbles just standard “cat eyes” or do they have a baseball theme? I wish had known about the “Hal Smiths” card when I did the post on players with the same name in a set.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Didn’t realize that Stover was actually Jim McAnany. Seeing as Jim only made it onto one baseball card (TCMA 1959 White Sox, which I can find no copies of), I might have to track one of these down for inclusion in my Cubs All-Time Roster Collection. Jim is one of the relative few who have played for both the White Sox and the Cubs. Seeing as my options are super limited for him, I’ll take what I can get! Thank you for the illuminating post!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Been picking these up on the down low for a few months. You’ve blown my cover. Lol. It’s really a fun set. Looks nice in a binder.


  4. The bespectacled White Sox player is NOT Jim McAnany but Jim Derrington, who was a rookie pitcher in the mid-1950s and had no chance of making 1960 White Sox. Strangely, there never was a Topps card of McAnany in 1960, though he was the platoon right fielder for the second half of 1959 and the 1959 World Series.


  5. I just opened two packs of high number 1960 Leaf I have the marbles and rappers. Is any one interested? 82/88/98/102/109/111/115/125/128 and 134 just came out of the pack 12/9/2021


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