The Best Cover Athletes in Series 1 History
Since 1993, there’s been a prestigious honor akin to landing on the cover of a video game. It’s the Topps Series 1 cover athlete, and much like the coveted Madden cover, it’s a symbol of being at the pinnacle of the game during your prime but for trading cards. To grace the cover of Topps Series 1 is to step into the spotlight during your career’s crowning glory, to seize a moment when your year and career shine bright. It’s not just about the cardboard; it’s about the magic and the memories, making it a goal every baseball player aspires to achieve. So, let’s journey through the years, reliving some of the most iconic cover athletes who have left an enduring mark on the sport and hobby.
Top Series 1 Cover Athletes, Pt. 1
2024 Topps Series 1: Ronald Acuña Jr.
Braves superstar Ronald Acuña Jr. graces the latest Series 1 cover following a year that’ll do down in baseball history. The Venezuelan slugger earned NL MVP honors after becoming the first player in MLB history to tally at least 40 homers and 70 stolen bases in the same season. Acuña stands as one of the game’s best and most exciting players. His presence on this year’s cover fits like his batting gloves.
2023 Topps Series 1: Julio Rodriguez
J-Rod commenced the 2022 season by landing just one hit in his first 21 at-bats. Then, the game slowed down, and the outfielder began to shine, exceeding the hype that followed his arrival to the Bigs. He finished the campaign as the first player in MLB history to register 25 homers and 25 stolen bases in his debut year and took home AL Rookie of the Year and Silver Slugger honors. Topps didn’t miss a beat, making Rodriguez the cover athlete in its 2023 Series 1. Listen: As Deion Sanders used to say, “When you ball, you get the call.”
2022 Topps Series 1: Shohei Ohtani
Ohtani could be the Series 1 cover athlete every year, and we’re sure fans wouldn’t have a problem with it. Every season seems to be an epic one where Ohtani defies baseball conventionalism, pulling off a feat that had never been done before. In 2021, Ohtani topped 40 home runs, hit 100 RBIs for the first time, led the league in triples with eight, and posted a 9-2 record as the Angels’ starting pitcher. The success culminated in his first All-Star appearance and AL MVP honors. Would it be surprising if Ohtani lands the cover in a Dodgers uniform? We think not.
2021 Topps Series 1: Juan Soto
The 2020 season was shortened due to Covid-19. That didn’t stop Soto from ballin’ outta control. Fresh off a season when he helped the Nationals to their first World Series title, the baby-faced Soto became the youngest player in NL history to win the batting title after batting an eye-popping .351 and led all qualified hitters in MLB in on-base percentage (.490), slugging percentage (.695), and on-base slugging (1.185), posting the highest marks in those three categories for any major league hitter with at least 195 plate appearances in a season since Barry Bonds in 2004. If that’s not deserving of a Series 1 cover, we couldn’t tell you what is.
2020 Topps Series 1: Pete Alonso
Alonso opened up the 2019 season in the Mets’ Opening Day Roster and commenced his career in style, becoming the first MLB player since 1900 to tally 11 extra-base hits in his first 10 games. He also won NL Rookie of the Year honors and broke Aaron Judge‘s record for most homers by a rook, totaling 53—another player with a well-deserving Series 1 cover spot.
Notable Series 1 Baseball Cover Athletes, Pt. 2
Top Topps Series 1 Baseball Cover Athletes