Major League Baseball opened what will be the most unusual season in its history and it did so, appropriately, with infectious disease specialist Dr. Anthony Fauci throwing out the ceremonial first pitch before the Washington Nationals hosted the New York Yankees on July 23.
And though his throw was way wide of its target, Topps hit the mark with its trading card of Fauci showing him in mid-throw. The $9.99 card was offered for 24 hours as one of its Topps NOW limited editions and set an all-time print record run, selling 51,512 cards.
The previous record was a card featuring the first hit by Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. It sold 19,396 copies.
"We’re excited by the popularity of Dr. Fauci’s Topps NOW card," Emily Kless, Topps communications manager, told USA Today. "Topps prides itself on capturing the unique moments of the MLB season, one baseball card at a time, and Dr. Fauci’s inclusion in this year’s Topps NOW cards is just one way in which we are highlighting the uniqueness of the 2020 season."
As we all know, it's definitely a unique season.
Fauci told CNN he felt “a little embarrassed and humbled” by the popularity of his card and hoped Yogi Berra and Mickey Mantle weren’t looking at him and saying, “What the heck is going on here?”
For the curious, the back of the card says this:
“Dr. Anthony Fauci, longtime Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and ardent Washington Nationals fan, signaled the official start of the 2020 MLB regular season by throwing out the first pitch before the Nationals took on the Yankees on Thursday evening. The 79-year-old Brooklyn native, donning a Nationals jersey, hat and facemask, fired a strong effort to the plate before the Nationals took the field.”
Fauci explained that “strong effort” to The Wall Street Journal, essentially saying he over-practiced the day before and wore his arm out.
“When I saw he was so far away, I said I better try to throw a bullet,” he told the WSJ, referring to catcher Sean Doolittle. “And that was a mistake.
“Instead of doing my normal motion of just lobbing the ball, which would’ve been the best thing to do, I thought, ‘Oh baby, I better put a lot of different oomph into it.’ And I did. And you saw what happened.”
Fauci also failed to bring his team good luck in the opener. The Nationals lost to the Yankees, 4-1, in the rain-shortened game.
Emmitt Smith enters the hobby: The Football Hall of Fame running back from the Dallas Cowboys walked into a sports collectibles store and found a football helmet with his autograph on it.
Smith asked the shop owner how he knew the autograph was really Emmitt Smith’s. The shop owner said he had bought the helmet from a reputable source and it came with a certificate of authenticity.
Smith knew it wasn’t his signature and revealed his identity to the shop owner, and asked him to remove all the fake Emmitt Smith memorabilia from the shelves.
From this, Smith founded PROVA Group, an authentication service for sports memorabilia that provides a lifetime provenance. It was announced that PROVA has become the official authentication partner of eBay.
These are the steps PROVA uses to provide verification:
1. Tag it -- Each authenticated item receives a PROVA SmarTag placed by an authorized PROVA team member; the tag is then linked to a PROVA SmartCOA, an item’s document of authenticity.
2. Scan it -- After tagging, PROVA Group scans the SmarTag to have associated
authentication data stored securely in the cloud.
3. Authenticate it -- Authentication is as easy as a quick look-up via provagroup.com.
4. Sell it... Or don’t -- Whether keeping or selling the item, collectors can track their memorabilia via the LEGIT by PROVA app and share an item’s authenticity anytime, anywhere.
Check it out at provagroup.com.