Card of the Day: 1970 Topps Chuck Hartenstein

On May 26th I’m usually choosing between featuring Pittsburgh Pirates pitchers Sam Leever and Harvey Haddix. Leever is one of the greatest pitchers in team history. He debuted in the majors on this date in 1898. Haddix pitched one of the greatest games ever on this date in 1959. I decided today to go elsewhere, because Haddix and Leever both show up on other dates in our daily history articles. They have also already appeared in multiple articles. I stayed on the mound for today’s card though, as we look at pitcher Chuck Hartenstein, who pitched six years in the majors. He spent the entire 1969 season and part of the 1970 season with the Pirates. He ended up on two Pirates cards during that time.

The options for Hartenstein on the Pirates are his 1969 and 1970 Topps cards. The first one shows a closeup of him without a cap, so you can’t tell that he was on the Chicago Cubs in the photo. The Pirates acquired him on January 15, 1969. That was too late to get a Pirates photo of him for the 1969 Topps set, but it was enough time to save him for a later series in the set, so the team name could be updated to Pirates. If Topps had him in the first series, then he would have had only one option showing him on the Pirates.

I went with the 1970 Topps card for a few reasons. I like the 1970 set design a lot more than the 1969, which is very boring. I also like action shots (even staged) better than portraits. The other reason is that you get a great uniform shot on the 1970 Topps card. So let’s look at card #216 from the 1970 Topps set.

Here’s the front of the card:

Not too many baseball players share their cards with a police officer, but there’s one on the card of Mr Hartenstein. I always wonder if people knew they were featured prominently in the background of photos. You don’t get too many clear shots like that involving someone who isn’t part of the game (player, umpire, coaches). Heck, even Hartestein only got 60% of himself on his own card.

Anyway, we have covered the 1970 Topps set here multiple times. Many of the pitcher photos look a lot like this pose. I love when they get great stadium shots in the background. The gray border with the white outline for the photo looks great. I really like the 1968 design and this design because they were so different. Somehow the bland 1969 design got shoehorned between those two sets. I’d like to see this card with the gold color used for the Pirates name up top and the word pitcher in the bottom right. Someone please photoshop that for me. Thanks in advance.

Here’s the back of the card:

The backs of these cards have a bio section, a cartoon and career stats in pro ball. They would include all of the pro stats for someone with a longer career over cutting down the stats and leaving the cartoon/bio section. That’s the way it should be in my opinion. In this example, almost everything for Hartenstein in the bio section is from before his pro career. The cartoon leaves so many questions, including why was he in Alaska? Is that supposed to be him, and if so, why is he a catcher? Why is the baseball shaped like a football? Did they really play in the snow?

If you would like one of these cards, they are readily available on Ebay, with over 200 examples up now. Someone has a PSA 9 for $65. There’s a PSA 8 listed for one penny under that price, so spend that extra money for the better one. I don’t know if the PSA 9 is a good price, but I know the PSA 8 is not. That’s because someone else has a PSA 8 for $37 delivered. There are 13 copies autographed by him (he passed away in late 2021), so you have choices there. Almost all are $8 to $14. If you just want the plain old card, there are a ton of options for right around $2 delivered.