(Jason Schott – New York Sports Day)
Carlos Beltran of the Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays’ Evan Longoria were at Topps offices in lower Manhattan on Wednesday afternoon.
They opened packs of the 2016 Topps Series 1 baseball cards, and talked about their own card collections.
Beltran said of collecting cards growing up, “I did, and I still have some of them. My mom is a big collector. I used to have a neighbor when I was around eight, ten years old, she used to collect a lot of baseball cards, all kinds of ballplayers, Hall of Fame, Sandy Koufax, Roy Campanella, Roberto Clemente. I used to go there, look in the box and look at the cards, and I was like ‘man, it’s gotta be fun to be on one of those cards.’
“Later on, when I signed as a professional ballplayer and I saw my first baseball card, I couldn’t believe it, like look at me, I’m here, man. I gave it to my mom, my mom started crying, saying ‘I can’t believe I have a son that is a professional ballplayer and now his card’s gonna be there for a long time,’ and now being able to play this game for a long time, I have seen a lot of baseball cards and my mom collects all of them.
“It’s a great thing. Back in the day, I remember we used to get the cards and throw them against the wall and the card that kind of like stood up against the wall, you keep all the cards. We were maybe giving away cards that right now have a lot of value, but back in the days, we were just looking at the cards, not thinking about it, just playing the game.
“Now, I’m trying to tell my daughters, hey, you know what, collect cards, it’s something that is fun to have. At the same time, when you have your kids, you can pass them on, from generation to generation, I think that’s good. We all, at one point, have collected cards,” said Beltran.
On his mother’s card collection, Beltran said, “My mom has a lot of cards, man. Every card that I get, sometimes fans say ‘sign this one, take this one.’ So, every time at the end of the year, I get a stack of cards like that (holds his fingers as he would with the cards), that’s the happiest day of her life, more than Mother’s Day or birthday because she knows that it’s important for her, so I just try to make mom happy, that’s all.”
Longoria said of his collection, “I have a lot of my own cards now, just tried to kind of keep and, hopefully, when it’s all said and done, just look back on and try to remember what moment it was or when that picture was taken. I got a ton of my own cards, I don’t have really anybody else’s. I’m more into memorabilia stuff now, I collect bats and balls and signed stuff like that, so I never really was into cards, I was always more into the other stuff as I got older.
“I had a ton of cards when I was a kid, enjoyed opening them up, eating the piece of bubble gum in them and trying to just get the guys that I really enjoyed watching play at that time.”
Topps is entering their 65th year of existence, and one of the most noteworthy things about their sets is who gets the Number 1 card.
This year, after thousands of people voted online, that honor goes to Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels.
David Leiner, VP & General Manager of North American Sports & Entertainment for Topps, said, “The first card in the Topps baseball set has historically been given to top players or has been meaningful. This time around, we wanted our general collectors to be part of the 65th Topps Baseball set, and they made their mark by picking one of the best players in baseball today.”
This is also the second year that Topps will be doing First Pitch inserts, featuring celebrities, past players, dignitaries taking part in the festivities.
This year’s set features four celebrities throwing out the first pitch at Mets games: soccer star Abby Wambach, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords,, Knicks star Kristaps Porzingis, and Victor Espinoza, the jockey for Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.
There are also cards of singer James Taylor, golfer Jordan Spieth, and Little League World Series star pitcher Mo’ne Davis throwing out the first pitch before Boston Red Sox games.
Former MLB Commissioner Bud Selig has his own card, throwing out the first pitch at a Milwaukee Brewers game. Selig owned the Brewers before becoming commissioner.
Legendary Hockey Night in Canada commentator Don Cherry threw out the first pitch before a Toronto Blue Jays game, and there is a card commemorating that.