How Topps Leapt Into the Future by Reimagining Baseballs Past

September
14, 2020

7 min read

When Dr. Anthony Fauci tossed the very first pitch at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. on July 24, it was a headline-making moment– and not simply because his toss was wildly errant. The ceremonial heave also introduced a baseball season that had been delayed for months due to issues over Covid-19 (well-founded ones, provided subsequent outbreaks in many clubhouses)..
What truly got people talking was when trading-card company Topps announced that a limited-run, one-off card capturing Faucis minute on the mound offered out actually overnight, moving a record-breaking 51,512 systems in a 24-hour window..
You d be forgiven for thinking, “People still gather print trading cards?” But as Topps has actually found out over the last a number of years, not only is there a market for the century-plus-old activity, however its ended up being more competitive and advanced among a select group of customers who embody a Venn diagram where sports, fond memories and street style intersect..

Artist and designer Blake Jamieson at his NYC studio.
Image Credit: Bryan Cerda.
Clay Luraschi, Topps vice president of product development, had a huge hand in making Project 2020– and the other, abovementioned campaigns– a reality. He just recently captured up with us by phone from his home in New Jersey to break down how Topps has handled to protect its legacy by remaining more pertinent — and rewarding — than ever.
Related: Strat-O-Matics Surge in Demand Is No Fantasy.
Try, attempt and try again.
” Having a massive presence online permits us to get our developments out there to a great deal of various collectors and fans, and innovations do not always strike the very first time,” Luraschi yields. “You might have an idea, then you go back and modify it. Often it does not even pertain to fruition for a number of years. With Topps.com and our director-to-consumer organization, we can print things on demand. We dont need to always take a position on a product, put it in a warehouse and hope it sells out at some time. With an item like Project 2020 and other jobs where you have an idea, however youre not 100 percent sure how its going to carry out, because its so various, [the website] allows you to put a concept out there and see how individuals respond.
Improve your core.
How can we look at trading cards in a different way?”.
Optimize what you have that nobody else has.
” Whenever you can leverage your history, which a lot of companies cant do, you should,” Luraschi advises. And to me, thats the chemistry for success.
Related: How The Countrys Goofiest Baseball Team Made Millions.
Use your clients story.
” Im 46,” Luraschi begins. You reveal me the 1986 Topps Traded Will Clark card, and I can talk about it for hours, because simply looking at that card leads to basically the story of my childhood. Theres such a deep connection individuals have with our cards.
Hire wise and remain fresh.
” Whenever we employ someone, the larger their repertoire and skillset, the much better,” says Luraschi. “A lot of the people coming into the labor force now are believing like that since of the mediums that they have and utilize grown up with. If you dont, then whats the point?

Dr. Fauci (l) and Willie Mays have actually made unlikely bedfellows in Topps limited-run series.
Image Credit: Topps.
Faucis card belonged to the lightning-in-a-bottle Topps Now series, which — as its name betrays — catches remarkable heroics previous and present with blink-and-you-missed- em commemorative cards. (A snapshot of Dodgers second baseman Gavin Lux reaching a group turning point is still affordable, however conserve your pennies for those Derek Jeter throwbacks.) The brand has likewise maneuvered stealthily into the digital space, leveraging partnerships with not just sports leagues but home entertainment powerhouses like Marvel and WWE to market many apps and virtual items..
Still, baseball is Topps support, and the company carried out its most cutting-edge play to date with the Project 2020 line, which commissioned 20 street artists and designers to put a contemporary spin on 20 classic Topps baseball cards. The limited-edition set includes Tyson Becks pushing of Roberto Clementes 1955 image, Ermsys fantastical animation of Dwight Goodens 1985 problem and Blake Jamiesons hyperreal redusting of Mike Trouts rookie run..
” Project 2020 put baseball cards back on the map in a major method,” says Jamieson from his New York City studio. “In the 80s and 90s, which is actually when I was gathering cards, all the business were simply over-printing hundreds and thousands of cards, therefore nothing was actually that rare. That turned a lot of individuals off, since if everyone can just own every card, its not really as much fun as having a card that none of your buddies can get.”.
He describes the experience of participating in Project 2020 as something of a mutual-admiration immersion: “Its truly fun seeing all these various interpretations and how far each artist is pressing themselves and the boundaries of trading cards.”.

” Project 2020 put baseball cards back on the map in a major method,” says Jamieson from his New York City studio. How can we look at trading cards differently?”.
You show me the 1986 Topps Traded Will Clark card, and I can talk about it for hours, because simply looking at that card leads to essentially the story of my childhood. Theres such a deep connection individuals have with our cards. “A lot of the individuals coming into the labor force now are thinking like that since of the mediums that they utilize and have grown up with.