Beginning in 1961 with the obscure Dice Game release and culminating with the readily available 1971 Scratch-Offs subset, for ten years Topps attempted to engage collecting youth in a variety of baseball card games. These conceptual efforts were primarily the brainchild of Woody Gelman, Art Director and Editor for the confectioner. Though met with varying degrees of success, the prototypes and samples from these test issues are among the most sought after in the post-war hobby. While the adjective “rare” is often overstated and used, for a handful of Topps releases the term is appropriately applied. One of these is undoubtedly the 1966 Topps Punch-Outs issue. According to the combined PSA and SGC population reports, only four total copies have been judged by the grading services. When discussing the set on his website, advanced Topps researcher David Hornish remarked, “If you can even find one of these very elusive cards consider yourself blessed. If you can afford it, you are more blessed still.”
Having been recently uncovered in an advanced collection, the offered 1966 Topps Punch-Outs Willie Mays/Tony Conigliaro tandem is the only known to have surfaced or been offered for public sale. Graded 80 EX-MT 6 by SGC, this crisp specimen depicts the American and National League combatants on opposing sides of the cardboard. With dimensions similar to period “tall boys,” each player displays (35) unpunched holes, closely resembling arcade and saloon games popularized decades earlier. Slightly errant centering and an inconsequential contusion affecting the upper right edge do not disrupt the appeal. The perforations are crisply attached, and the creamy blank reverse is problem-free and clean. A vibrant red-white-and-blue color scheme adds to the commanding visual appeal. For the Mays enthusiast who thought he had it all or the Topps test issue specialist, this near impossible Mays/Conigliaro panel is a true standard of collecting excellence.