A new Topps on-demand card line memorializes the day’s most momentous baseball moments and sells and produces as many cards as are ordered in 24 hours.
Used to be that baseball card collectors had to—like generations of Cubs fans—wait until next year to see an outstanding season achievement immortalized on a baseball card. That’s so 20th century. On Wed. March 11, Lorenzo Cain of the Kansas City Royals hit three home runs in a game against the New York Yankees. For the next 24 hours, fans of the Comeback Kids and baseball card collectors had the opportunity to buy (for $9.99) a Topps baseball card commemorating the feat as part of a new program, Topps Now.
The program, developed this year by Topps, memorializes the day’s most momentous baseball moments and sells and produces as many cards as are ordered in 24 hours. The cards are taken off the market and not sold again. Topps Now is somewhat akin to the Warners Archives Collection, a manufactured-on-demand DVD series created by Warner Home Video in 2009 to make available previously unreleased catalog titles.
Prior to Sat. May 7, the bestselling Topps Now cards were Chicago Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta’s no hitter (1,808 cards), Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant’s grand slam and home run (1,644 cards) and the debut of Texas Rangers rookie Nomar Mazara (1,427 cards).
And then, New York Mets pitcher Bartolo Colon stepped to the plate in a game against the San Diego Padres. Already something of a cult figure amongst Mets fans, the nearly 43 year-old Colon hit his first-ever home run off of pitcher James Shields, making him the oldest player to hit his first career bomb. Sales of his Topps Now card shattered previous records: 8,826 cards. “The impossible has happened,” proclaimed Mets TV broadcaster Gary Cohen in an instant classic home run call.
The card is being sold on eBay for as high as $74.95. In comparison, the Nomar Mazara card is being offered for below the suggested retail price at $8.49 (or best offer).
"When we first developed this, we thought that the best-selling card this season would be a no-hitter, a player hitting for the cycle or maybe Ichiro's 3000th hit," Jeff Heckman, director of product development and e-commerce for Topps, said in a statement. "Colon just has a cult following. We could have never dreamed up something like this."
As an investment, sports memorabilia lags behind art, currency/coin, and automobiles as the most popular collectibles, according to Spectrem Group wealth market search of Millionaire households with a net worth up to $5 million (not including primary residence). Across all age groups, sports memorabilia resonates most with Millionaires ages 45-54 and Baby Boomers up to age 64. Peter Calderon, collectibles consignment director and vintage baseball card specialist for Heritage Auctions in Dallas, previously told Millionaire Corner that the allure of sports memorabilia is the opportunity to invest in something with a personal connection. “There’s little emotional involvement in owning a stock,” he said, “but if you grew up in Chicago and you’re a Cubs fan, to invest in an Ernie Banks bat or autographed card is a little more personal.”
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.