Update (1/7/2013) Topps has picked its finalists. Collectors have the final say in who gets the Hooks' one-day contract. The have posted the five finalists on their Facebook page. Collectors vote by 'liking' their favorite. Those that vote are entered into a draw for one of five boxes. Voting runs through January 15.
Most baseball card collectors dream (or dreamed) of becoming a professional baseball player. Part of the magic of sorting through a stack of cards is imagining that you're the one in the uniform posing awkwardly in the Spring Training sun. It's pretending that one day it'll be your stats on the back. Some might even hope that, one day, other collectors would pay large sums of money for your rookie card. Through a promotion in 2012 Topps Heritage Minor League Baseball, one collector will have their professional dreams (almost) come true, at least for one day.
The "Make Your Pro Debut" redemption will entitle one person to a one-day mock contract with the Corpus Christi Hooks, the Double-A affiliate for the Houston Astros. While the contract doesn't include an official appearance in a Hooks game, it does come with just about everything else you might expect from being a MiLB player.
" idea was generated in a brainstorm with our MiLB partners here in New York," said Topps VP Mark Sair, "We really want to add value to our products overall and provide experiences beyond just getting great cards."
The experience begins with a press conference announcing the "signing." The winner gets their own locker in the Corpus Christi clubhouse fully loaded with a complete uniform and gear. If the winner is female, they will get a locker in an auxiliary locker room.
Before the game, the winner will participate in a variety of team activities including batting practice, stretches and shagging fly balls in the outfield. Following that, it's back to the clubhouse for a snack.
As the game approaches, the winner will present the Hooks' lineup with the manager and throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
During the game itself, the winner will be interviewed in the Hook's broadcast booth. They'll also spend time in the owner's booth where the winner and their guest will be joined by Nolan Ryan.
After the game, the winner will share a meal with the Hooks and be presented with the team's official lineup card.
To top things off, Topps will make a card of the winner that will appear in 2013 Topps Pro Debut.
The experience also includes airfare, hotel and transportation for the winner and a guest.
This isn't the first time that Topps has rewarded collectors with their own card. For the first couple years of the Ginter Code promotion in Allen & Ginter Baseball, the first to crack the puzzle got their own spot on the following year's checklist. 2012 Bowman Baseball has ten Bowman Debut Golden Contracts, one of which will be good for a card in 2013 Bowman Baseball. But this is the first promotion to include such an extensive experience.
Will there be other similar promotions in the future? Sapir thinks there's a possibility.
"I expect collectors will see more promotions like this across all sports," he said.
Here is a complete list of things included in the "Make Your Pro Debut" promotion for 2012 Topps Heritage Minor League Baseball:
- Tentative time frame: April 18-21, 2013.
- Airfare for two (player and guest) to Corpus Christi, TX.
- Two nights at the Omni Hotel, Corpus Christi (night prior and night of game)
- Press conference & photo ops to announce winner and sign a one-day “mock” contract Transportation to stadium
- Locker in the Corpus Christi clubhouse (or auxiliary for female winner)
- A complete uniform (cap, jersey, pants, socks, spikes)
- Equipment (Wilson glove, Slugger bat, Franklin batting glove, Rawlings helmet) Pre-game warm-up/stretches with team
- Pre-game batting practice.
- Shag fly balls in outfield.
- Post-batting practic snacks in clubhouse.
- Present lineup with manager.
- Ceremonial first pitch.
- Spend time in broadcast booth and be interviewed by broadcaster.
- Spend time (with their guest) in the owner’s suite with Hooks owner and baseball legend Nolan Ryan.
- Post-game meal with team.
- Presented with official dugout lineup card after game.
- Transportation back to Omni Hotel.
- RON – Omni Hotel.
- Winner will have their very own “Pro Debut” trading card featured in the 2013 Topps MiLB Pro Debut release.
Update (9/12/12): As a part of the contest, entrants are required to submit a short essay with their entry on why they deserve to win. Entries should be sent to:
Topps Make Your Pro Debut - Entries
PO Box 2098
Duryea, PA 18642
Topps will post the top 10 entries on their Facebook page and let collectors vote on their favorite.
Thanks to Dano Laurel of Sports Card Magazine for pointing this out.