I have spent my life mixing my two loves: the entertainment side and baseball. It is great when they can mix together. This week there was another convergence which comes at the right time as people struggle for things to do and for positive messages.
Topps is launching "Project 2020," taking some of the greatest baseball cards in history and having them redone by a rainbow of some of the world's greatest and most influential artists, cartooners and pop culture influencers.
Many come from the streets of New York, and include Yankees fans like Joe Aloi, also known as JK5, who loves players like Don Mattingly and Derek Jeter. And there's Andre Thele who weaves layers of poetry, spirituality, symbolism, color and line across various media. His whole family (like, everyone) are Yankees fans — he's the contrarian Mets fan, but he knows the Yankees even better so he can talk to that dynamic as well. ... He's worked on the Rivera and Mattingly cards, while Brooklyn artist Sophia Chang has completed a Mariano card, and one of the greatest sketch artists alive, Mister Cartoon, did the tattoo work on CC Sabathia's back
"When we think of the collectible world and where it has evolved today, sports and pop culture continue to collide," said Jeff Heckman, global director of ecommerce told us. "We could not think of a better way to expose trading cards to a new audience than working to reinvent some of the classic baseball cards and personalities of the game of baseball through the eyes and hands of many of the world's greatest pop culture figures of today."
The legendary stories of past players are also not lost on this group. "Roberto Clemente and his story have always been inspirational to me," said Mister Cartoon, whose hometown high school mascot was the Pirates, adding to his longtime connection to the Pittsburgh slugger, which made working on the Clemente card extra special. "I want to take each of these classic cards and supercharge them!"
The cards in the Project 2020 offering include: 1952 Willie Mays; 1952 Jackie Robinson; 1955 Sandy Koufax; 1959 Bob Gibson; 1980 Rickey Henderson; 1989 Ken Griffey Jr; 1969 Nolan Ryan; 1984 Don Mattingly; 2001 Ichiro; 1992 Bowman Mariano Rivera; 1982 Topps Traded Cal Ripken; 1983 Tony Gwynn; 1975 George Brett; 2011 Updates Mike Trout; 1987 Mark McGwire; 1990 Frank Thomas; 1985 Dwight Gooden; 1955 Roberto Clemente and 1954 Ted Williams.
They will only be available for a short time on Topps.com, but they are certain to be collectors' items for years to come for people who can mix an artistic and a baseball side. It's a great idea and something which the players in the set, many of whom like Rickey and Dwight Gooden, will love as well.
Ray Negron is a sports executive with over 40 years of experience in baseball. His first job came from a chance encounter with George Steinbrenner as a youth. He has become an American film producer, a best-selling author, and a philanthropist. His memoir is entitled, "Yankee Miracles: Life with the Boss and the Bronx Bombers." For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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