"Boring design" often gets mistaken for "minimal design," and 1969 Topps is a perfect example. The fronts featured a large, usually over-saturated color sidelines photograph complemented with a team name in dropped-out caps across the bottom (reminiscent of the far superior 1967 Topps design), and a small circle in an upper corner with player name and position. Minimal? Sure. Boring? Definitely.
Here's what this set reminds me of: an old kitchen table from the Sixties, the one with the glossy formica top and the grooved metal tabletop sides. You know what I'm talking about? I believe it was standard issue for every home for the 1960s. That table is the real-life equivalent to the design of this set.
The backs are much better than the fronts, if you ask me, and even they are boring. The only fun thing about the backs were the caricatures on the manager cards and that the backs of the All-Stars formed a photo puzzle of Pete Rose.
The checklist is highlighted by Reggie Jackson's rookie card (#260) and Rollie Fingers' rookie (#597). The set also features an interesting error/variation series of cards with player last names in white instead of yellow (the most notable variation is Mickey Mantle (#500), in his last active card with Topps).
The Best of the Set
Any sane person would choose one of those three cards I've highlighted as the best of the set. That's why I'm going with Aurelio Rodriguez's rookie card (#653). In one of Topps' great uncorrected errors, it's not Rodriguez on the card, but Angels' batboy Leonard Garcia.