US-based trading card company The Topps Co. has smashed its sales record for its Topps Now daily card line with an issue last week featuring Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease and America’s leading immunologist.
Fauci, one of the key public faces in the ongoing battle against the Covid-19 pandemic, threw out the first pitch prior to the high-profile July 23 matchup between the New York Yankees and Washington Nationals that kicked off the amended 2020 Major League Baseball season. Topps produced a card commemorating that event for its Topps Now line, which prints cards on demand depicting real-world events, but only for a 24-hour period for each card.
Topps sold a company record 51,512 copies of the card, more than doubling the prior high-water mark in the four-year history of Topps Now, an issue from last year depicting the first MLB hit for Toronto Blue Jays phenom Vladimir Guerrero Jr, which sold 19,306 copies. The Topps Now cards themselves retailed fo $9.99 each, representing a more than half-million-dollar revenue bump for the company just from that single Fauci issue.
With the Topps Now window closed for the Fauci card release, copies on eBay are now approaching $75 each. Fauci’s first pitch itself last week failed to reach home plate. Despite of that lack of success, strong fan interest in the return of regular season MLB action and the widespread popularity that Fauci enjoys among both sports fans and non-fans proved a powerful combination to drive sales.
“The popularity of the Dr. Fauci Topps Now card is indicative of how excited fans are for the return of baseball, as well as a tribute to the man that has helped guide the country through this coronavirus crisis,” said Jeff Heckman, Topps global director of ecommerce. “The unique collectible has been a hit with not just those who follow baseball but all Americans who are appreciative of his service.”
The Yankees-Nationals game featuring Fauci, shown on ESPN, was also the most-watched regular season MLB game on any network since 2011.
The Fauci card release and return of Topps Now MLB cards follows the company’s “Project 2020” from earlier this year, in which a series of classic baseball cards are being reinterpreted by creative artists, cartoonists, and pop culture influencers. That effort has prompted sales of more than 1.2m cards to date.