Schwartz: Topps Project Re-imagines Twenty Iconic Baseball Cards

It’s very common nowadays for an old movie to be remade or re-imagined.  There are also examples of a “reboot” for popular television shows from the past.  But what if you can take some of the most popular baseball cards of all-time, have some talented artists add in their vision, and re-release the cards? 

That’s exactly what has happened. 

Topps and it’s on-demand platform Topps Now have introduced “Project 2020”, an offering of twenty iconic and cross-generational cards from the company’s nearly seventy-year history.  The cards have been re-imagined by a group of impressive artists including Ben Baller, Just Don, Mister Cartoon, Tyson Beck, Sophia Chang, Joshua Vides and New York area artist Andrew Thiele. 

“As an artist, it gives you something great to put your energy to,” said Thiele who grew up a Mets fan in New Jersey. “Baseball cards meant something to me.  There’s an excitement about getting them.”

(Andrew Thiele’s 1952 Willie Mays)

The twenty cards, representing some of baseball’s greatest stars and ranging from the 1950’s until the present, will be re-imagined by each of the twenty artists and will be available for a period of 48 hours from the time that it was introduced.  The task at hand for the artists was to take a classic baseball card and putting your own spin on it.

“That was challenging art-wise,” said Thiele.  “That was super-challenging.  Going back and doing Mike Trout now is really easy because it’s current.  You apply the same technique to a Willie Mays or Sandy Koufax, it was challenging to make sure that your art was distinguishable.”

 The Project 2020 cards 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 

Here are some images from the other artists…

   

“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 for Topps. “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.

For the 39-year-old Thiele, being involved in a sports project. The New York City based artist drew “Whole Squad Ready” art for the 2018 World Series and has worked for Major League Baseball, ESPN and NBA graphics.  He grew up in a family full of Yankees fans, but players like Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry turned him into a Mets fan and he experienced them winning the 1986 World Series.

And now, he’s going to re-imagine a couple of Mets cards including the 1985 Gooden.       

“If I would have told my eight-year old self that one day you’re going to have your own set of baseball cards, I wouldn’t think it was real,” said Thiele.”

 For anyone who has collected baseball cards, including myself, there is an excitement to a new season and to see what the new set of cards will look like.  Topps has always done a great job with variant sets like Topps Heritage Gypsy Queen, Opening Day and Archives.  From a digital standpoint, Topps Now has given fans cards commemorating iconic moments in a very quick fashion.

And now with Topps Project 2020, a new spin on some memorable baseball cards from the past is an exciting new collectible that brings them back with a modernized look.  The cards will be released by Topps as the artists complete them.  The images on the cards can be seen at https://www.topps.com/project2020.

About the Author

Peter Schwartz

Peter covers the Islanders for New York Sports Day while also writing about general sports in the New York/New Jersey area. In addition to his column, Peter also hosts his “Schwartz On Sports” podcast as he interviews players, coaches, and other sports personalities. He is also currently a sports anchor for WFAN Radio, CBS Sports Radio and WCBS 880 radio while also serving as the public address announcer for the New York Cosmos soccer club. Peter spent 8 years as the radio play by play voice for the New York Dragons of the Arena Football League. He was also the radio play by play announcer for the XFL’s NY/NJ Hitmen in 2001 and the radio play by play announcer for the New York Saints of the Major Indoor Lacrosse League from 1993 to 1996.

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