Opening Day and The Hobby

How to Collect this 2024 Baseball Season

Date: Mar 28, 2024
Author: Greg Bates, Senior Writer
Topics: Baseball, How To Collect, Opening Day
Length: 1050 Words
Reading Time: ~6 Minutes

All eyes will be on Jackson Chourio, Wyatt Langford, Colt Keith, and more when they make their MLB debuts on Opening Day. And don’t forget Jackson Merrill and Yoshinobu Yamamoto, who already kicked off their seasons in Seoul, South Korea.

The big day for some of baseball’s top prospects will be well-documented. Topps will play an essential role in the historic events.

But before any hobby product cards make an appearance, TOPPS NOW® will be on the spot to produce milestone cards.

It’s an exciting year ahead for collectors of Topps baseball products. Let’s dive into what’s in store.

Much-Anticipated Prospects, Rookies

During Jeremy Fullerton’s 17 years working at Topps, this is one of the most exhilarating and anticipated Opening Days he can recall.

A big reason is this year’s phenomenal rookie class, highlighted by jack-of-all-trades Elly De La Cruz and Japanese hurler Yoshinobu Yamamoto.

“I’m excited about the prospects that are teasing us with the possibility of breaking camp with some of their teams,” said Fullerton, Topps’ Director of Product Development. “I’ve been calling them the Jackson 3: Jackson Chourio, Jackson Holliday, and Jackson Merrill. They are definitely in that top tier of guys we should see soon; it’s just kind of, how soon? That will make it exciting for my team and how we can push them into product coming out soon after their debuts.”

The top prospects — including Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Paul Skenes — will be featured in all Bowman products as prospects until they get the call to join their MLB team.

It’s another big year for prospecting, with so much young talent getting primed in the minor leagues.

“The prospects in Bowman seem like they get better and better every year,” Fullerton said. “Maybe that’s just because the collective ‘we’ of The Hobby are watching these guys more intently, having access to watching their games is easier, access to their stats, and learning about them more. It just makes it more exciting. Part of that is also just the growth of the Bowman brands, which is exposing all of us to more players.”

Topps will be releasing some great products in the coming months. 2024 Topps Big League Baseball, which has Yamamoto’s rookie card, hit the market on March 27.

“The product is focused on the fun of baseball and the fun of collecting,” Fullerton said. “It’s got an easier point-of-entry financially, too, and is available in the hobby shops plus our retailers, much like Series 1. But it highlights the fun of baseball.”

This year’s Topps Heritage product will be released on April 10. It pays homage to the retro 1975 design, the rookie year for Hall-of-Famers George Brett and Robin Yount.

“Much like the 2024 design, people will hopefully remember it fondly and easily identify it,” Fullerton said. “The 1975 design is, obviously, 1975. It’s loud. It’s the ’70s. It’s got the 3-D team name. That’s a product that celebrates the history of Topps.”

Bowman Baseball is scheduled to come out on May 8. Topps Series 2 will hit the market on June 12. It’s a continuation of Series 1, with cards 351-700 of the base set.

“More of some of the inserts that people loved in Series 1,” Fullerton said. “New-themed inserts in Series 2 as well. And additional new rookies to collect.”

A few other baseball releases to keep tabs on are 2024 Topps Chrome set for July 17, 2024, Bowman Chrome coming on September 11, and 2024 Topps Chrome Update on November 13.

TOPPS NOW® on the Spot

Two pitches into last season, New York Yankees stud Aaron Judge launched a home run to dead center field. It marked the first home run of the 2023 MLB season. The next day, TOPPS NOW® commemorated the round-tripper with a special card.

That was one of 11 cards TOPPS NOW® made available on March 31 after some memorable Opening Day games. TOPPS NOW® celebrated the debuts of Anthony Volpe and Jordan Walker, highlighted Adley Rutschman’s historic 5-for-5 game, and honored Shohei Ohtani striking out 10 hitters.

“We had a star-studded Opening Day last year, with Volpe leading the way with about 20,000 units sold since it was his first RC,” said Michael Linkens, Topps’ Director of Product & Creative.

This year marks the ninth Opening Day for TOPPS NOW®. Linkens can’t wait to see what transpires on the first full day of games this season. Whatever happens, TOPPS NOW® will savor the big moments in card form.

“Opening Day is the first time on Topps.com that we’re commemorating every day of the MLB season,” Linkens said. “In that way, Opening Day really feels like a holiday for us on Topps.com. We’re watching the games, picking the TOPPS NOW® moments for the following day. We never quite know what’s going to happen. We’re more reactive than planning on the TOPPS NOW® side.”

Collectors love instant gratification. To be able to acquire cards the day after a historic achievement by their favorite player or team is what it’s all about.

“It’s the first opportunity to get a baseball card with a 2024 in-game photo on it, and you’re purchasing it the next day in real-time,” Linkens said. “Last year, the print numbers on the Opening Day cards were really strong.”

Along with base cards and parallels, TOPPS NOW® will be creating exciting autograph and relic cards depending on what transpires on Opening Day.

Linkens and his creative staff have a list of key moments that, when they come to fruition, will turn into TOPPS NOW® cards. Some bigger moments the TOPPS NOW® team will be keeping a close eye on include Ohtani’s first home run as a Dodger, Holliday and Chourio’s first MLB hits and home runs, Jordan Lawlar’s first career home run, Andrew McCutchen’s 300th career home run, and much, much more.

“The anticipated debuts we will certainly cover,” Linkens said. “Ohtani’s debut as a Dodger will get a card no matter what because of how historic it is. Some of the top five rookies of the league will be making their MLB debuts. We could have some first-career hits, and those will all get cards. Maybe we’ll get lucky with a big game, first stolen base, first home run, etc. We’ll be looking for walk-offs.

“We’re primed for creating some really good product this year.”


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