Sights and Sounds
Baseball trading cards focus on future growth
MLB Players Association
NEW YORK -- The Major League Baseball
Players Association announced Thursday that it has agreed to terms with The
Topps Company and The Upper Deck Company on new licensing arrangements
that will go into effect starting January 2006.
Under the new agreements, baseball cards will be designed, marketed and
promoted to attract kids and new consumers while still providing
excitement and value to the current collector base. Promotional
programs by licensors and manufacturers will have special appeal for
baseball fans of all ages, and the presence of fewer products in the
marketplace will reduce consumer confusion and clutter on retail
shelves. In making the announcement, Evan Kaplan, MLBPA Director of
Trading Cards and Collectibles, said, "Our licensees recognized the need
to make improvements in every aspect of the trading card business. They
are fully committed to building a wide spectrum of products that will
meet the expectations of all fans."
With only two baseball trading card manufacturers, the new licensing
landscape will focus on strong brand presence, longer shelf life and
fewer, stronger products in the marketplace to simplify the retail
experience for consumers. Emphasis on marketing, promotion and product
development to attract new purchasers, especially kids, will bring
renewed excitement to the category.
Fans also will be pleased to learn that as of Opening Day 2006, a new
"Rookie Card" logo will appear on the cards of players who make their
Major League debut. No longer will a player's rookie card ("RC") be
produced before he reaches the Majors. "Improving the rookie card
situation is just one of the many changes that fans will see as a result
of these new license agreements," said Kaplan. "We are going to kick
off the 2006 season with the launch of Topps Baseball and Upper Deck
Baseball at the start of Spring Training with a promotional and
marketing campaign that will go throughout the year."
"We couldn't be more enthusiastic about the prospect of a cleaner, more
consumer-friendly retail environment", said Scott Silverstein, President
of The Topps Company. "We believe this development will enable us to
better serve our core customers and reach out to a broader base of new
collectors with special emphasis on bringing back kids to the market."
“We are extremely pleased and proud to be given the opportunity to
create a more comprehensive and robust marketplace to ensure the
long-term preservation of our beloved hobby for future generations of
baseball fans and enthusiasts,” said Richard McWilliam, Chairman and
Founder of the Upper Deck Company.
MLBPA representatives said that more information would be forthcoming
but collectors should expect to see calendars for 2006 releases, retail
promotions and more developments in the upcoming months. Judy Heeter,
MLBPA Director of Business Affairs and Licensing, added that, "Although
we are confident that the trading card category now will be most
favorably positioned for future growth, the decision to move forward
with only two licensees was not an easy one for us to make. We have
enjoyed our personal and professional relationships with all the
wonderful people at Donruss, we have the utmost respect for them and the
venerable Donruss and Leaf brands, and we wish them all well."
The Major League Baseball Players Association (www.MLBPLAYERS.com) is
the collective bargaining representative for all professional baseball
players of the thirty Major League Baseball teams and serves as the
exclusive group licensing agent for commercial and licensing activities
involving active Major League baseball players. On behalf of its
members, it operates the Players Choice licensing program and Players
Choice Awards, which benefit the needy through the Major League Baseball
Players Trust, a charitable foundation established and run entirely by
Major League baseball players.