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Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Infinite Baseball Card Set: Mysterious Mitchell: His Name Says It All

The man stated that he was a professional pitcher and wanted to play for the Seals. It was quickly evident that this was not going to be an ordinary contract negotiation. When pressed on his credentials, the man stated that his name and previous occupation wasn’t anyone’s business. As long as he made good on the mound he need not reveal anything about himself…..The new-comer pitched 5 innings before leaving the game with a 6-2 lead and the victory. Six days later he faced the Tigers again and this time went the full nine, earning another win. It was after this second victory that people began to ask the question:

Who the heck was this guy?

The author is an artist who makes baseball cards of Negro Leaguers, obscure players and infamous players. Worth a look if you are unfamiliar with his work.

Mike Webber Posted: January 15, 2015 at 09:05 PM | 20 comment(s)
  Beats: art, baseball cards, baseball history

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Topps Bunt app: Can the company save itself and a beloved hobby with baseball cards that live inside your phone?

Shoutout to Sy Berger.

“The initial thought exercise, in 2012, was, If you were to re-create a baseball card, in our day and age, what would it look like?” Michael Bramlage told me. “First thing was, it should live on your phone. You know, the phone in your pocket is about the same size as a baseball card.”

Bramlage, the vice president, digital at the trading card giant Topps, is talking about Bunt, the free app I used to open a pack of Topps Frozen Phenoms.  My phone shuddered, and gold digital confetti exploded on screen when the pack turned out to contain a “super rare” Yasiel Puig card… Were I to trade that Puig card to another Bunt user—Bramlage says trade offers pour in at the rate of more than one per second—any return I’d receive would be similarly notional. If I kept it, I could slot it into my Bunt lineup, and Puig’s real-world statistical output would earn me points in an in-app fantasy game, which would in turn earn me “coins” that I could use to buy more digital cards.

You can also spend real money to buy those coins—it costs $9.99 for 20,000 or $74.99 for 500,000 if you’re in the mood to splurge… The result is a Web success big enough to leave a Pablo Sandoval–sized offline footprint, both through a robust secondary market—rare Bunt cards, and others with “digital signatures” that mirror players’ autographs, are priced in the hundreds of dollars on eBay—and multimillion dollar revenues through the app…

progress makes Grandpa Simpsons of us all, and this is not a cloud worth screaming at. It’s tough to see Bunt as anything but a necessary evolution in a business that needed one, and a way to make something I cared about relevant and appealing to people who’ve never had reason to think of it as either… One generation’s cards are neglected in dust-shrouded boxes; another’s move and grow, relentlessly, in the permanent mint condition of the Internet. Which seems more valuable to you?

The District Attorney Posted: December 23, 2014 at 08:54 PM | 20 comment(s)
  Beats: baseball cards, business, internet, topps

Sunday, December 21, 2014

A Salute to Sy Berger, From a Card-Carrying Fan - NYTimes.com

When you grow up with a singular focus, whatever it is, you may find yourself relating to Will Ferrell’s character in “Elf.” Explaining his eating habits to his new family, the man-child from the North Pole says he sticks to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup.

For me, the diet was baseball, baseball games, baseball cards and pitching. That was my sustenance, and I suppose I should thank Sy Berger for his role as a vendor. I emptied my pockets of quarters and singles, and he filled my soul with baseball, one 3 ½-by-2 ½-inch slice of cardboard at a time.

Berger, the longtime Topps executive considered the father of the modern baseball card, died on Sunday at 91. I never knew him, but oh, did I know his work. No marketing vice president could ever have devised a better way to sell baseball to the masses, and bring the players closer to the fans.

Jim Furtado Posted: December 21, 2014 at 09:14 AM | 7 comment(s)
  Beats: baseball cards

Sunday, December 14, 2014

NY Times: Sy Berger, Who Turned Boyhood Heroes Into Brilliant Rectangles, Dies at 91

Mr. Berger introduced Topps cards in 1951. They came with taffy, rather than chewing gum, because a competitor seemed to have exclusive rights to market baseball cards with gum. But the taffy wound up picking up the flavor of the varnish on the cards.

“You wouldn’t dare put that taffy near your mouth,” Mr. Berger said, adding, “that ’51 series was really a disaster.”

A year later, after switching to gum, he conceived the prototype for the modern baseball card, supplanting the unimaginative, smallish and often black-and-white offerings of the existing card companies.

“We came out in 1952 with a card in color, beautiful color, and a card that was large,” Mr. Berger told the Society for American Baseball Research in 2004. “For the first time, we had a team logo. We had the 1951 line statistics and their lifetime statistics. No one else did it.”

The cards also had facsimiles of the players’ autographs below their images, another innovation.

bobm Posted: December 14, 2014 at 11:03 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: baseball cards, obituaries

 

 

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