By Barry Janoff
November 15, 2016: The 2016 MLB season may be over, but the hits keep coming for Topps thanks to the Chicago Cubs, Big Papi and Derek Jeter.
The trading card and collectibles company said it has signed a multi-year autograph trading card deal with Derek Jeter, former captain and five-time World Series champion with the New York Yankees, hailing it as “Jeter’s return to Topps products for the first time in more than a decade.”
Jeter’s first autographed cards under the new alliance are scheduled to appear in 2016 Topps Dynasty Baseball (due out Dec. 7) and 2016 Topps Baseball Transcendent Collection (due Dec. 9).
He will also be featured in 2017 Topps products, starting with 2017 Topps Baseball Series 1 (available Feb. 1, 2017) and 2016 Topps Tribute Baseball.
"Adding Derek Jeter autographs to our trading card products will be thrilling for collectors," David Leiner, vp and GM for North American Sports & Entertainment at Topps, said in a statement. "He is one of the most prolific and well-known players of our time, and his addition is one collectors will be clamoring for."
Jeter also has a deal with Steiner Sports for items that include autographed baseballs, bats, hats, shoes, photos and other items. On its Web site, Steiner Sports offers for sale numerous previously signed baseball cards from Jeter’s playing career, including a limited-edition Upper Deck 1993 rookie card that sells for $1,499.99.
In addition, Jeter-signed cards are available on eBay and via other memorabilia sources.
Topps, the exclusive trading card partner for MLB, also said this week that its on-demand Topps NOW platform, which launched at the start of the 2016 season, surpassed 500,000 cards sold in the first year, “exceeding the expectations of the program and helping to re-engage thousands of fans, especially millennials, with the Topps brand."
Helping the company reach that milestone: Topps said it sold more than 9,000 sets of Chicago Cubs World Series sets.
Via Topps NOW, people are able to order an unlimited number of cards, usually within 24 hours of their availability, which Topps produces on-demand. The cards are delivered in days, as opposed to traditional methods where new cards are not available until the following season’s sets.
Topps said it produced 665 different MLB cards during the initial season of Topps NOW.
According to Jeff Heckman, Topps director of new product development and e-commerce marketplace, "This is something we’ve wanted for a long time, a way to turn product around very quickly and give fans something to remember events as they were happening. We’ve finally refined the model, and it’s exceeded our wildest expectations."
Topps said that all 30 MLB teams were represented by more than one card, with the Cubs (38 cards plus postseason), Boston Red Sox (36 plus postseason) and Yankees (28) leading the list.
The top player in the regular season was Boston’s David Ortiz (eight cards), followed by Ichiro Suzuki of the Miami Marlins and Chicago’s Kris Bryant( six each).
Forty one of the cards also featured autographs or game-used memorabilia on a limited basis.
Tops NOW is currently producing cards showing 2016 MLB award winners, including MVP’s and Cy Young winners.
A Topps Now card depicting Ichiro’s 3,000th career MLB hit (a triple on Aug. 7 against the Colorado Rockies) had the one-day sales record of more than 11,550 cards sold.
In second place was pitcher Bartolo Colon, then with the New York Mets, with more than 8,000 cards sold showing the 42-year-old hitting a home run against the San Diego Padres' James Shields in May, which made Colon the oldest player in MLB history to hit his first career homer.
The Cubs World Series winning card was third with more than 6,000 sold.
Topps said the platform has also been launched with partners including UFC, the English Premier League, Major League Soccer and WWE, which "will also be expanded in the coming months."
Regarding its deal with Jeter, Topps said that all people accessing the Topps BUNT digital trading card app this week would receive an exclusive digital version of Jeter’s iconic 1993 Topps rookie card.
Exclusive new digital designs featuring Jeter will debut in Topps BUNT starting Nov. 25.
Jeter, who retired in 2014 after 20 seasons with the Yankees, was named the AL Rookie of the Year in 1996 and was the MLB All-Star Game MVP and World Series MVP in 2000.
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