Topps Launches Series 1 Collection Celebrating 150 Years of Baseball
As Topps kicks off the 2019 baseball season with the launch of its flagship Series 1 card collection, it does so with a historic look at 150 years of professional baseball.
Along with the 350 player cards released in the Series 1 collection, Topps has put together a collection of inserts themed around 150 years of baseball, with special cards celebrating the game’s greatest players, the game’s greatest moments, the game’s greatest seasons and additional inserts that explore the evolution of baseball equipment, stadiums and uniforms and key non-player subjects who helped make the game great.
“Every year we are thinking of what new and exciting thing we can bring to the flagship series,” said Jeremy Fullerton, brand manager for Topps. “This being the anniversary of 150 years of professional baseball, we were pretty quick to land on that as our overarching theme. Then came the fun and the work part of how are we going to celebrate 150 years of baseball. It was a lot of content, a lot of players, but it was fun doing that research.”
Over the course of the year Topps will continue to launch new parts of the collection. The Series 1 will include 50 each of the game’s greatest players, moments and seasons, along with a sprinkling of the game’s evolution. The Series 2 collection, which will introduce an additional 350 player cards when it launches in June, adds another 50 each of the game’s greatest players, moments and seasons. The third and final installment, the Update collection, which captures player trades and late-season call-ups will round out the final 50 each of the players, moments and season, giving each of the three themes a total of 150 cards over the season.
“It is quite a big task, but it has been fun to do the research and put the names and everything together,” Fullerton said. “Series 1 is definitely the kick-off to that celebration.”
Fullerton said that as the research started, the effort continued to grow. “We only had room for so many moments and players,” he said. “It has been a constant discussion. With every article we read or player we discussed, there was another item we saw. Things we weren’t able to get into Series 1, maybe we were able to get into Series 2 or Updates.”
Dan Kinton, Topps vice president of sales and marketing, said that adding multiple inserts each year adds a new level of interest to the pack-opening experience. “Part of what we take pride in is that we are the longest-running manufacturer of baseball cards,” he said. “We continually pride ourselves that we do that hard work and due diligence to come up with propositions year after year that stay true to the heart of baseball and all fans.”
With Series 1 launching Jan. 30, which has turned into a holiday for card collectors, and the exclusive card partner for Major League Baseball that gives Topps, which started in 1938, the ability to be the only manufacturer to use the MLB mark and mine the depths of MLB archives, each pack in Series 1 will include 14 cards. The majority of each pack remains face cards, but expect a few inserts per pack on average along with a few special-edition cards, such as the relatively new Home Run Challenge cards.
Started last season, Topps wanted to embrace the love of real-time stats and add a new experience to opening packs of cards. If fans find a Home Run Challenge card in their pack, they can visit the Topps website and choose a day that the player on the card — Aaron Judge, for example — will hit a home run. “It provides collectors and fans an opportunity to play manger and look at pitching matchups or home and away splits,” Kinton said. If correct, Topps will create a parallel card sent to the fan. The number of parallel cards created tie directly to how many winners there are in a given month, giving the number of cards scarcity.
Along with the flagship Series 1 launch, Topps will have over 40 different card brands introduced at different price points and levels of design or content over the course of the season.
Tim Newcomb covers gear and business for Baseball America. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.