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Thursday, August 19, 2021

MLB and Players’ Union Trade Topps for Fanatics in Deals to Shake Up Trading-Card Universe

Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association have struck new exclusive baseball card agreements with a new company controlled by online sports-merchandise retailer Fanatics Inc., breaking the decades-long grip that incumbent icon Topps Co. has held on the trading-card market, people familiar with the matter said.

The deals signal the beginning of a sweeping reorganization of the trading-card universe. In a memo sent to baseball players Thursday, MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said “other significant sports properties also separately have agreed to exclusive licenses with (the new Fanatics company) in the trading cards category” but didn’t name specific leagues or players’ unions.

The MLBPA deal begins in 2023. MLB’s current agreement with Topps runs through 2025.

Clark wrote in his memo that the undisclosed total value of the MLBPA deal is more than 10 times bigger than any deal the union has ever struck. He added that it is part of a series of recent deals that will generate nearly $2 billion through 2045.

Topps did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 19, 2021 at 03:46 PM | 46 comment(s)
  Beats: baseball cards, topps

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

How a $7K laptop got on a ‘90 baseball card

In 1990, Murphy—then with the Red Sox—had become renowned for his work on the PC. He adopted one of the earliest personal digital assistants on the market, kept it in his jacket pocket in the bullpen and used it to input information on every batter he faced. It may seem simple now when players have tablets with video footage of every plate appearance available in the dugout, but this was pretty much unheard of for a Major Leaguer at the time.

“I was able to track the hitter, the team, left, right or switch,” Murphy said. “And I was able to put all the at-bats in—whether it was a key situation or not, the first pitch—if they swing or not—what the first pitch was, what the action pitch was, what the result was and how I felt that day. Because some days a guy would get a hit off me and let’s say my fastball felt like a seven on a one-to-10 [scale]. Well, if I’m out there two nights later, and I feel like a 10, I’m not afraid to use my fastball.”

That got the attention of an editor at the now defunct “PC Laptop Computers Magazine,” who wanted to do a feature on Murphy as one of their “Laptop People.” So, when the Red Sox were in Anaheim to play the Angels—near the magazine’s Los Angeles offices—he arranged to do the interview. Even better, with the upcoming publicity, he was able to get a new-fangled laptop he had his eyes on for free.

“It had eight color grayscale screen, had a processor that was like 4.75 hertz—it wasn’t megahertz or gigahertz,” Murphy says with a laugh. “And you had 20 megabytes, or maybe it was 40 megabytes of hard disk space. $5,000 machine, right? That’s what those things cost back in the day. Did I tell you it weighed 20 pounds? Oh my god, it was like lugging around a gold brick.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 16, 2021 at 10:20 AM | 4 comment(s)
  Beats: baseball cards

Sunday, May 23, 2021


Given the cards’ small size, scant biographical information and lack of color images, Topps’ first set fell fairly flat when it was released in 1951.

“They’re really unimpressive, quite frankly. It’s really funny to look at them, and go, ‘Wow, this morphed into the cards we know today?’” Odell said. “But in retrospect, you realize it was sort of a beta test for Topps to see if they could do this.”

The Blue Backs and Red Backs weren’t huge sellers, but they sold well enough to enable Topps to come out with another set the following year. With the 1952 set, Topps began to establish itself as an industry leader.

Looking to change directions with their second set, Topps enlisted marketing guru Sy Berger, along with graphic artist Woody Gelman, to design the 1952 set. The two famously sat at Berger’s kitchen table in Brooklyn in the fall of 1951 and got to work, cutting out and assembling the new design.

The 1951 Topps set, which was the first baseball card set released by Topps, fell fairly flat, leading the company to rethink their design for the next set in 1952. (National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum)

What Berger and Gelman came away with bore almost no resemblance to the original 1951 set. The 407-player set featured large, color images, team logos, facsimile autographs and extensive biographical information on the backs. The cards were an instant hit.

“You look at the 1952 cards, and you go, ‘This is what I would buy,’” Odell said. “What Berger and Gelman did was just 180 degrees from what the 1951 cards are. It’s as dramatic a change as there ever was at Topps. Rookie year and sophomore year – just night and day.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 23, 2021 at 05:36 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: baseball cards

Friday, May 21, 2021

Florida man who died from COVID-19 left his family baseball cards worth $20M

A Florida doctor who died from COVID-19 complications in January left his family a lot of baseball cards worth $20 million.

Dr. Thomas Newman’s treasure trove — featuring cards of Honus Wagner, Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig — is going to be auctioned off.

More than 1,000 baseball, football and hockey cards dating back to 1880 will be for sale to the highest bidder.

“One of the 1933 Babe Ruth cards (Goudey #53, PSA 9) in this collection is the finest known of its kind and we expect it to break the record of $5.2 million for any sports card,” said JP Cohen, President of Memory Lane Auctions.

“Prices for rare, historic items have exploded in the collectibles market.”

A ball signed by the Great Bambino and a Mickey Mantle rookie card — which is expected to fetch $1 million — are also among the offerings.

“No one enjoyed collecting more than Tom,” said his widow, Nancy Newman.


RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 21, 2021 at 11:37 AM | 14 comment(s)
  Beats: baseball cards



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