Nineteen Newcomers Join Bagwell, Hoffman, Raines Among 34 On Hall Of Fame Ballot

tim-rainesA total of 19 players, most prominently Vladimir Guerrero, Jorge Posada, Manny Ramirez and Ivan Rodriguez, join 15 holdovers on the 2017 Baseball Writers’ Association of America Hall of Fame ballot, as announced today. The strongest potential selectees, Jeff Bagwell, Trevor Hoffman and Tim Raines, are now on the clock, each having received more than 67$ of the vote but less than the 75% required for enshrinement last year.

The results of the BBWAA election will be announced on Jan. 18. Winners will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on July 30, 2017.

Some quick facts on induction, per the National Baseball Hall of Fame:

– Last year marked just the fifth time in voting history that as many as five (Bagwell, Hoffman, Raines plus inductees Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza) had received 67% or more votes

– Every player who has ever cleared the 65-percent threshold in any one BBWAA election has eventually been inducted into the Hall of Fame, save for Jack Morris – who exhausted his BBWAA eligibility in 2015 and will not be eligible for the Modern Baseball Era Committee consideration until the fall of 2017.

– Twelve other players will return to the BBWAA ballot this year, including (in order of their 2016 vote percentage): Curt Schilling (52.3 percent), Roger Clemens (45.2), Barry Bonds (44.3), Edgar Martínez (43.4), Mike Mussina (43.0), Lee Smith (34.1), Fred McGriff (20.9), Jeff Kent (16.6), Larry Walker (15.5), Gary Sheffield (11.6), Billy Wagner (10.5) and Sammy Sosa (7.0). Smith is making his final appearance on the BBWAA ballot.

– Also debuting on the BBWAA ballot this year are Casey Blake, Pat Burrell, Orlando Cabrera, Mike Cameron, J.D. Drew, Carlos Guillén, Derrek Lee, Melvin Mora, Magglio Ordóñez, Edgar Rentería, Arthur Rhodes, Freddy Sánchez, Matt Stairs, Jason Varitek and Tim Wakefield.

For bios on each player on the ballot and more info, visit http://baseballhall.org/hof/2017-bbwaa-ballot.

Annual Major League Baseball Topps® All-Star Rookie Team is Revealed

seagerrookiecupsmallThe Topps® MLB All-Star Rookie Team continues its decades-long tradition by honoring Major League Baseball’s top rookies.

Eleven MLB players were named to the Topps All-Star Rookie Team led by three Los Angeles Dodgers: Corey Seager (shortstop), who was named National League Rookie of the Year, Kenta Maeda (right-handed pitcher), and Julio Urias (left-handed pitcher). They are joined by New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez, who excited baseball fans with his power by hitting 20 home runs in just 53 games.

For the first time in Topps history, collectors can get a card of members of the Topps All-Star Rookie Team immediately though the on-demand TOPPS NOW™ program. The Topps® MLB All-Star Rookie Team set will be available exclusively for one week on Topps.com.

Also joining them on the Topps All-Star Rookie Team are two young stars from Texas in Houston Astros third baseman Alex Bregman, the second overall draft pick in 2015, and Texas Rangers outfielder Nomar Mazara, who hit a home run in his first MLB game.

Rounding out the Topps All-Star Rookie Team include Philadelphia’s Tommy Joseph (first baseman), San Diego’s Ryan Schimpf (second base), Washington’s Trea Turner (outfield), Cleveland’s Tyler Naquin (outfield), and St. Louis’ Seung-hwan Oh (relief pitcher).

The Topps All-Star Rookie Team began in 1959. The winners also receive a gold “cup” on their official Topps baseball card in the 2017 set, which has been a tradition for many years.

Past honorees of the Topps MLB All-Star Rookie Team have included former MVPs such as Buster Posey, Ichiro, Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan and Cal Ripken Jr. In addition, 20 former Topps MLB All-Star Rookie Team members have been inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame including Ken Griffey Jr., and Mike Piazza. Last year’s Topps MLB All-Rookie team included three current Chicago Cubs in Addison Russell, Kris Bryant, and Kyle Schwarber.

The Topps MLB All-Star Rookie Team – nicknamed the Topps Rookie Cup – is awarded to one player for each position, a right-hander starter, a left-handed starter, and a relief pitcher.

Here is the full list of the 2016 Topps MLB All-Star Rookie Team:

C – Gary Sanchez NYY
1B – Tommy Joseph PHI
2B – Ryan Schimpf SDP
3B – Alex Bregman HOU
SS – Corey Seager LAD
OF – Trea Turner WAS
OF – Nomar Mazara TEX
OF – Tyler Naquin CLE
LHP – Julio Urias LAD
RHP – Kenta Maeda LAD
RP – Seung Hwan Oh STL

The Topps Company Signs Derek Jeter to an Autographed Trading Card Deal for the First Time in Over a Decade

jeterdynastyThe Topps Company, the exclusive trading card partner of Major League Baseball, is excited to announce the signing of former New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter to a multi-year autograph trading card deal today.

Jeter’s autographs return to Topps products for the first time in over a decade. The addition of the former Yankees captain, one of the greatest players of his generation, will elevate future Topps releases even further.

Jeter’s first autographed cards will appear in 2016 Topps® Dynasty™ Baseball and 2016 Topps® Baseball Transcendent Collection™. He will also be featured in 2017 Topps products, starting with 2017 Topps Baseball Series 1, available February 1, 2017, and 2016 Topps Tribute® Baseball.

To celebrate Jeter’s return to Topps, all fans accessing the Topps BUNT® digital trading card app this week, will 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 Friday, November 25.

Jeter, who retired in 2014, finished his career as the all-time Yankees hits leader with 3,465. He has five World Series titles, earned the AL Rookie of the Year Award in 1996, and won MLB All-Star Game MVP and World Series MVP in 2000.

“Adding Derek Jeter autographs to our trading card products will be thrilling for collectors,” said David Leiner, Vice President and General Manager of North American Sports & Entertainment at Topps. “He is one of the most prolific and well-known players of our time, and his addition is one collectors will be clamoring for.”

Look for 2016 Topps® Dynasty™ Baseball on shelves on December 7 and the extravagant 2016 Topps® Baseball Transcendent Collection™ on December 9.

Joe Buck Discussion/Booksigning at Yogi Berra Museum on Nov. 17

joe-buck-lucky-bastard-book-smallJoe Buck, lead play-by-play broadcaster for the NFL’s biggest games and the World Series, will be appearing at the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center in Little Falls, N.J., on Nov. 17 at 7 p.m. for a discussion and signing of his new memoir Lucky Bastard:  My Life, My Dad and the Things I’m Not Allowed to Say on TV.

A seven-time Emmy Award winner, Buck is in his 20th year with Fox Sports and recently called the historic Chicago Cubs-Cleveland Indians World Series.  In all,  Buck has called 16 World Series, and four Super Bowls, the most recent being Super Bowl XLVIII between Seattle and Denver in February 2014, the most-watched program in U.S. television history.

Joe is the son of late broadcasting legend Jack Buck, the beloved voice of the St. Louis Cardinals for almost 50 years and whose career spanned parts of six decades. Jack helped Joe get his broadcasting start at 18, but the young Buck had to prove himself, first as a minor league radio announcer and then on local TV, national TV with ESPN, and then finally on FOX.

Joe Buck now has a successful, award-winning career, but only after a lot of dues-paying and entertaining mistakes. Hilarious and occasionally heartbreaking,  Joe Buck’s Lucky Bastard takes readers into the broadcast booth, into his childhood home, while recounting his funniest stories and interactions with the biggest sports stars of this era.

Books are available for purchase at the Museum. To RSVP call (973) 655-2378.

TOPPS Caps Record Setting First Year With TOPPS NOW™ Platform

Bartolo-HR-CardThe Topps Company today announced that their fast-growing on-demand platform TOPPS NOW™ 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 and the joys of collecting now in an on-demand environment for the first time. Fans were able to order an unlimited amount of cards in 24 hours, which TOPPS produced on demand. The cards were then delivered in a few days, where in past years fans had to wait until the next year’s set to collect the images. The company finished the run last week with a set celebrating the Chicago Cubs.

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,” said Jeff Heckman, Topps director of new product development and e-commerce marketplace. “We’ve finally refined the model, and it’s exceeded our wildest expectations.”

Topps produced 665 different MLB cards during the initial season of TOPPSNOW, with many points of the season receiving multiple cards to chronicle that day’s events, as well as team sets for each of the 10 playoff clubs. Over 500 moments have been highlighted with cards, ranging from Ichiro Suzuki’s 3,000th hit, to rookie appearances, no-hitters, amazing catches and dramatic battles on the diamond, all of which are available same day for fans and are delivered via mail in 3-5 business days. All 30 teams received more than one card, with the Chicago Cubs (38 cards plus postseason), Boston Red Sox (36 plus postseason), and the New York Yankees (28) having the most. The top players in the regular season were David Ortiz with eight cards, and Ichiro and Chicago’s Kris Bryant with six each. TOPPS has also sold over 9,000 sets of Chicago Cubs World Series sets as well.

Forty one of the cards also featured autographs or game used memorabilia on a limited basis.

Ichiro’s 3,000th hit had the one day sales record of over 11,550 cards sold, with the New York Mets’ Bartolo Colon second with over 8,000 cards delivered following the All-Star pitcher’s unbelievably glorious home run against the San Diego Padres in May. The Cubs World Series winning card was third with over 6,000 sold, followed by Aaron Judge and Tyler Austin from the New York Yankees had the 4th most cards sold at over 5,000 when they hit back-to-back home runs in their first MLB plate appearances in August. The first TOPPS NOW commemorative relic card offer which featured All-Star Game MVP Eric Hosmer of the Kansas City Royals sold out in just 20 minutes.

The platform has also been launched with TOPPS partners like the UFC, the Premier League, Major League Soccer, and WWE and those will also be expanded in the coming months.

Yanks’ Sanchez Among 2017 Topps #1 Card Nominees

sanchez-topps-nowYankees fans now have the opportunity to help make one of their new favorite players the face of baseball — or at least the face of Topps baseball cards, for 2017. (Strangely, no Mets made the cut…)

Gary Sanchez, who burst on the scene and made an immediate huge impact on the sport this summer, is one of 16 players nominated by the card company to be its iconic #1 card in Series One in 2017. Voting on the Topps Blog (click here to vote) began this week and continues through Wednesday, Oct. 19, at 11:59 p.m. Fans will be able to either “retweet” or “like” a tweet assigned to each of the sixteen nominees which will count as a vote. Thousands of online votes poured in last year, with Mike Trout the eventual Card No. 1 winner.

Previous players to achieve this prestigious honor in consecutive years include Ted Williams (1957-58), Hank Aaron (1973-76), Nolan Ryan (1990-92), Alex Rodriguez (2005-06 & 2008-09), and most recently Ryan Braun (2011-12).

Sanchez erased several rookie records during his 2016 campaign, slashing .299/.376/.657 and hitting 20 home runs in 201 at bats.

The list of 2017 Topps Baseball Card No. 1 nominees:

Adrian Beltre
Mookie Betts
Kris Bryant
Miguel Cabrera
Carlos Correa
Josh Donaldson
Bryce Harper
Clayton Kershaw
Francisco Lindor
Manny Machado
Yadier Molina
David Ortiz
Buster Posey
Gary Sanchez
Corey Seager
Mike Trout

New Exhibit Celebrates Art of LeRoy Neiman At Yogi Berra Museum

neiman-frontrev91Renowned for his brilliantly colored paintings, posters and sketches, LeRoy Neiman was perhaps America’s most prolific and recognizable artist of his time.  His works celebrated heroes in sports and entertainment and the good life, and remain prominently displayed in major museums and collections around the world.

Neiman was an eye-catching figure himself with his wide mustache and ever-present cigar. And he was a familiar fixture at prize fights, Olympics, Super Bowls and World Series throughout the second half of the 20th century, his drawings often made on the spot.

Celebrating the strong bond between art and athletics, the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center recently opened “LeRoy Neiman’s Fall Classics,” a new exhibit showcasing the iconic artist’s original drawings of World Series subjects, including the Museum’s namesake Yogi Berra.

The exhibit opening coincides with the advent of baseball’s 2016 postseason, and will run through March 2017.

Though Neiman passed away four years ago at age 91, Museum visitors can connect with him by putting on a portable mustache and taking selfies next to a Neiman self-portrait.

The Museum will also honor his commitment to art and excellence with upcoming programs for aspiring sports artists. On Oct. 23, award-winning pencil artist Jerry Winick of Pencilworks in Little Falls, NJ, will conduct a workshop (12 noon to 2:30 p.m.) at the Museum for ages 6-13. And the Montclair Art Museum’s traveling art truck will be on site Nov. 5 from 1 p.m.-3 p.m., for youngsters to create their own masterworks.

The Neiman works were provided by the LeRoy Neiman Foundation and the McMullen Family. Included in the exhibit is a large portrait of the late John McMullen, former owner of the Houston Astros and New Jersey Devils with one of the three Stanley Cups under his stewardship.

Mets Cards Among Extended Topps Postseason Sets

grandy-cardThe Topps Company, Inc. will be adding to their exciting Topps Now™ program with the release of Topps Now Postseason Team Sets celebrating each teams journey to the MLB Postseason. A team set will be created for each Postseason team. Whenever a team clinches a Postseason birth, that team’s Topps Now set is available for purchase the very next day.  In a unique twist to the traditional 24-hour time frame offered to order daily Topps Now cards, these Postseason sets will be available until the first Postseason game of the divisional round, beginning October 6th at 1pm EST, exclusively on Topps.com.

Each Topps Now Postseason Team Set will consist of 15 player cards highlighting a team’s regular season triumphs which led them to Postseason glory. Special card numbering separate from the flagship Topps Now daily series numbering will be used along with a first  time ever MLB Postseason logo on each card. As an special extra bonus, fans who order a set of a team which wins a postseason series will be shipped one free bonus card. A total of three additional free cards will be created for the team that wins the World Series.

“With the postseason upon us, we are excited to offer a special Topps Now Postseason Team Set today.” said Jeff Heckman, Director, New Product Development and eCommerce Marketplace. “This is a logical extension to our daily Topps Now cards to be able to offer a special collector’s set for fans with a free bonus card for each time a team wins a Postseason series.”

Topps Now, a Topps.com-exclusive physical card product, celebrates greatest moments and milestones from the 2016 Major League Baseball season  as they happen. The physical cards are available the very next day to purchase through Topps.com, but for only 24 hours, and will not be available for purchase again.

John Franco At Empire City Casino’s Dan Rooney’s Sports Bar Friday

franco-head-shotFormer Mets hurler John Franco, one of baseball’s all-time great relief pitchers, will meet and great fans at Dan Rooney’s Sports Bar at Empire City Casino on Friday night, September 30, when the Mets play the Phillies in what is expected to be a pivotal game in the National League wildcard race.

The Brooklyn native who ranks fifth on the all-time saves list with 424 and is first among lefties, will be on hand from 7:00 to 9:00 PM to pose for pictures and sign autographs for the first 100 fans, and then watch the game with Mets zealots.

Food and drink specials will be on the menu, and fans will have a perfect view of the game on Dan Rooney’s large-screen TVs.

During a 21-year major league career with the Mets, Reds and Astros, Franco appeared in 1,119 games in his career to rank third all-time, and first in National League history. He played college baseball at St. John’s University before being drafted by the LA Dodgers in 1981. He was traded to the Reds in 1983 and was called up to the big leagues the following year. The four-time All Star and three-time NL saves leader, Franco was honored with the National League Relief Man award twice. He became the third Mets captain in history, from 2001-2004, and was inducted into the New York Mets Hall of Fame in 2012.

Colon, Young Yankees Boost TOPPS NOW Rookie Season

Bartolo-HR-CardTOPPS launched its NOW baseball platform in April to highlight individual and team achievements each day of the season. Nearly 500 moments have been captured on cardboard to date, with the Yankees and Mets well represented throughout the year.

Bartolo Colon‘s first career home run on May 7 in San Diego is one of the highlights of the season, and Mets fans responded by purchasing more than 8,000 copies of the card, depicting the 40-year-old mid-swing. Colon has been featured four other times, joining several Mets who appeared on multiple cards, including Curtis Granderson, Yoenis Cespedes, Noah Syndergaard, Wilmer Flores and Jay Bruce (!).

Aaron Judge and Tyler Austin have been part of the Yankees’ youth movement since the August 1 trading deadline; their August 13 back-to-back homers in consecutive at bats sold more than 5,000 . Judge has appeared on two other cards since his debut, and the Yankees’ total of 28 cards to date is third in MLB behind the Cubs (38) and Red Sox (36).

Overall, the program has surpassed 300,000 cards.