If you’ve been reading this site for a while, you know I’m a big fan of oddball sports cards, and I even have an entire archive dedicated to them where I document these non-mainstream sets. But in developing pages for the various Milton Bradley baseball card sets (you can read about the 1970 Milton Bradley set here), I learned that two are nearly indistinguishable.
For example, look at the two Milton Bradley Ernie Banks cards from 1969 and 1972. You can see the fronts are the same, and while the backs have different game cues, they don’t list a year. An uninformed collector isn’t going to be able to tell the difference.
Collectors could take a seller’s or 3rd party authenticator’s word for having assigned the correct year, but I have seen mistakes from both.
It turns out that there is a simple way to tell the difference between a 1969 and 1972 Milton Bradley baseball card. If there is a red number ‘1’ on the back of the card, and it does not have a bar across the bottom of the ‘1’, it is a 1969 card. This rule doesn’t apply to black 1s.
If the red number ‘1’ does have a bar across the bottom, it is a 1972 Milton Bradley card.
Here are two more examples of red 1’s on a 1969 Milton Bradley Tom Seaver (does not have a bar) and 1972 Milton Bradley Lou Brock (does have a bar).
If you’re an oddball or player collector, I hope this little factoid helps you; it has for me! Happy collecting!