Trading Card OG’s now challenging NBA Top Shot

Leading physical trading card company, Topps, entering the digital space where Vancouver's Dapper Labs is excelling.

In a partnership announced Monday, Topps and Major League Baseball (MLB) will take baseball cards to the blockchain. Starting April 20th, fans will be able to purchase NFTs of Topps’ 2021 catalogue of trading cards on the WAX Blockchain. Tobin Lent, VP & General Manager of Topps Digital Sports & Entertainment at The Topps Company, had this to say in a press release:

“The partnership between Major League Baseball, MLB Players, Inc. and Topps has delighted collectors and fans for generations, celebrating the legendary players and iconic moments that have defined America’s Pastime. Our MLB blockchain NFT series debut marks a historic moment in the modern evolution of collecting for both traditional and new collectors. We’re excited to bring almost a decade’s worth of digital collectibles innovations to 2021 Topps Series 1 and provide another fun avenue for fans to collect their favorite heroes and moments with secure digital ownership on the blockchain.”

Dapper Labs and NBA Top Shot are not mentioned in the press release but Evan Kaplan, Managing Director of MLB Players, Inc, does note that “as collectibles enjoy a breakout moment with NFTs and blockchain technology, we can’t think of a better way to honor the legendary players from years past and look forward to the incredible careers ahead of today’s stars and breakout rookies.”

This “breakout moment” has been capitalized upon by NBA Top Shot. Even though they had an 81 year lead, Topps has exactly half the market value—$1.3 billion USD to $2.6 billion USD—to their blockchain competitor. You could liken the meteoric rise of NBA Top Shot to a wide-open layup. Now, a defender has entered the paint. 

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“Curling. That’s a big thing in Canada, right? You’re in Vancouver?” 

In serendipitous timing, the question of the next league to enter the space was discussed on a recent episode of popular tech podcast, Recode. Host Peter Kafka had just prompted Dapper Labs CEO Roham Gharegozlou to discuss what league or player he would want to see in NFT-form before the cheeky remark above.

Much to the chagrin of Kafka, he can get an NFT trading card of Mike Trout or Mookie Betts sooner than he’d get one of Kevin Martin or Jennifer Jones. I would have bet on international soccer (Gharegozlou’s personal favourite) or the WNBA (a tremendous way to mark their 25th season). Baseball does, however, have a rich history of physical cards to pair with this new, digital frontier.


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