When the Topps Company in Brooklyn started selling baseball cards 65 years ago – it was mostly a ploy to get kids to buy candy – bubblegum specifically. Hard, hard bubblegum. (0:07)
Depending on how long the card was at the candy store, some of that gum could crack in half. You know, it wasn’t pliable. (0:07)
That’s Michael Bofshever. He’s also 65 and from Brooklyn. And he’s also my uncle. He grew up buying cards with his dollar allowance from Chodosh’s, a local candy store. He’d grab a new pack of cards, head outside, and… (0:03)
You’d, you know, you’d stuff the gum in your mouth and then you’d shuffle through your cards to see who you got and you’d read the statistics. (0:08)
The cards would have a color illustration or photo on the front and player’s info on the back. (0:04)
Boy, it was exciting to read about a baseball player’s statistics and then they always used to have, like, a little fact and a cartoon on the back of the card. //(0:10)
The internet strikes once again. Now, you can find all of this online. And baseball cards are practically obsolete. Enter Topps Now. It’s a new initiative that Topps launched earlier this week. Michael Linkens is the associate art director at Topps.com – he says they’re aiming for a fresh take on a classic. (0:11)
What’s cool about Topps Now is it feels more like content and kind of journalism than a traditional baseball card. (0:08)
Each day, Linkens and his creative team debate what were the most exciting moments in baseball from the day before – they debate the old fashioned way…
It’s, you know, a text chain late at night. (0:03)
They then turn that moment into a card that’s available – collectors take notice – for just 24 hours. It’ll be moments like Derek Jeter’s final at bat at Yankee Stadium. The BIG stuff. At least of the day.
And Topps will only print as many cards as you order. So, you could end up with a one of a kind card.
I think it’s just sort of a bit of a, bit of a gimmick… (0:05)
Ian Wenik is in his early 20s and longtime baseball card collector
…and they’re just sort of bank on virality and stuff kind of spreading and for people to hop on that bandwagon. (0:06)
Wenik says he’s interested in the traditional baseball cards – for the potential investment. And you can make serious money for a few of the uber rare vintage cards.
Like the 1909 Honus Wagner – he played shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates back at the turn of the last century. And that card? That went for $1.3M at public auction not that long ago.
(sound to afterschool).
So while the older fans might scoff – nine-year-old hard core Mets fan and little leaguer Avery Rosen, says it sounds pretty cool. And When I met him at his after school program, he said he’s been interested in cards since he was given two at his “first game ever.” (0:14)
And the baseball cards that I got were reallly really bad. And so I started collecting. (0:04)
Now he has almost 2000. He likes buying packs and searching for the best cards. Or, more specifically… (0:06)
Well, my parents buy them for me. But it’s usually on a special occasion. (0:05)
Like when he goes to Mets games with his dad. So when I told him about Topps Now, he could already imagine the moment he’d want to save… (0:07)
I would want Yoenis Cespedes… (0:02)
Cespedes is one of the Mets’ star players (0:02)
…to hit, um, to hit a walk off two run homer in the 9th inning to win the game 2-1, maybe in the playoffs or something. That would be pretty cool. (0:11)
It can be easy for us to dismiss Topps Now as just a gimmick in our modern digital age. But after all, Topps started making baseball cards as a ploy to sell gum. So anything’s possible. Maybe Avery’s hopeful card will one day be as valuable as a Honus Wagner. Elizabeth Brockway, Columbia Radio News. (0:15)