Topps trading cards will launch a series of NFT (Non-Fungible Token) baseball cards later this month, according to an announcement from the company that created the trading card hobby industry. The cards will be officially licensed with MLB.
The love affair between baseball and trading cards continues to keep pace with society and technology, with NFTs being a hot topic currently in the digital space. The NBA has had success with their NBA Top Shot product, with countless NFTs changing hands on the blockchain.
Topps MLB NFTs
Topps will offer their NFTs, which will be digital versions of their regular Topps baseball cards, on April 20, according to reports. Unlike NFTs that have been offered by players, the Topps products are licensed with Major League Baseball and will include logos and trademarks.
“This was absolutely the plan all along,” said Topps Digital Vice President Tobin Lent. “We knew we were going to do [NFTs] at some point, and we just needed to get that experience and wanted to make sure that we did it right.”
In the early 1900s, baseball cards were a way to increase sales of tobacco products. In the 1930s, trading cards were still an afterthought by candy companies who packaged them with their bubble gum. In the 1950s, baseball cards finally became popular with the booming popularity of the game through television and the emergence of superstar players. In the 1980s, the baseball card hobby market became profitable when the baby boomers came of age, wanting to buy and trade the cardboard heroes of their youth.
Through almost all of that history, The Topps Company has been there, chewing up (sorry) market space for their gum and sports cards. They’ve swatted away competition over the years, remaining as the industry leader in trading cards. Part of the joy of becoming a ballplayer was to sign a contract with Topps. Not until your face was on a baseball card had you really made it in The Show.
Non-fungible tokens are making a splash in sports, but not everyone is sure they will hold value or become mainstream. Topps is banking that they will, and that NFTs are just one more evolution of a hobby they have invested in for more than 80 years. The company, which was purchased for $385 million in 2007 by former Disney CEO Michael Eisner, has plans to go public in the near future in a deal that is expected to net more than $1 billion.