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FOX Sports, Topps partner for vintage Negro League trading card tour ahead of MLB's tribute game

Ahead of the Cardinals-Giants game at Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Alabama, next month, FOX Sports and Topps are teaming up to honor the Negro Leagues.

FOX Sports and Topps have partnered to honor baseball's roots ahead of Major League Baseball's tribute to the Negro Leagues this summer

The St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants will play at Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Alabama, home of the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro Leagues, where Willie Mays began his professional career in 1948.

To promote the game and honor the league, FOX Sports and Topps began a six-city tour Thursday, and the trading card company launched a 2024 Topps MLB at Rickwood Negro Leagues Collection.


At each stop — Kansas City, St. Louis, Philadelphia, New York, Atlanta and Birmingham — Topps will have a new four-ton, 16-foot by 24-foot custom trading card of a Black baseball hero. The six players who will be featured are Satchel Paige (in Kansas City), Jackie Robinson, Josh Gibson, Mays, Larry Doby and Monte Irvin.

"It’s one of those things where if you have a passion for the moment, you have a passion for the sport, you have a passion for what Negro Leagues has meant and will mean, it becomes pretty easy to be excited about it," Ken Turner, CMO of Fanatics Collectibles, said in a recent interview with FOX Business.

"You don’t get these opportunities that often where something really special is going to happen," added FOX Sports' President of Marketing Robert Gottlieb. "The excitement about our activation and marketing is really exciting. But at the end of all of this is this night, in this game, in primetime on a Thursday night. I think it’s going to be really very, very special, and it doesn’t come along that often, an event like this. We’re just thrilled here."


The initiative "hits close to home" for Turner, an African American whose grandfather grew up in the south and said Gibson was his hero. Gibson, simply put, was one of the best Negro League players of all-time. Baseball-Reference lists his career slashline as 373/.458/.718, and it's rumored he hit 800 home runs in Negro League and Independent League games.

"Josh Gibson happens to be one of the first baseball players I was made aware of, which is odd. It wasn’t until college that I realized no one knew who this dude was," Turner said. "For a kid, it’s so impressionable, and while everyone else is playing baseball and pretending to be players, I’m pretending to be this player that others hadn’t heard of. It was, like, ‘Did my grandfather just make this guy up?’"

Added Gottlieb, "We can only kind of focus on six legendary Negro League heroes in this activation, but the truth is, there are dozens, if not hundreds that could have been part of it."

As for the collectible, Turner expects "high demand" and even some "viral moments."

"There’s been a recent resurgence and a nod to nostalgia, first and foremost, where nostalgia is cool," he said. "You combine that with the fact of the recognition of what the Negro Leagues has meant to baseball and what it will mean, and I think that what we are doing is going to be very well received. And I think some of the recognition, as well as the delivery of what we have, in terms of marketing, will be in high demand."

MLB has tapped into its roots in recent years, notably with the Field of Dreams game and the Little League Classic. But Gottlieb believes the June 20 game will be "the most special of all of them."

"I do think the thing that gets us most excited as a company and as a division at FOX Sports is being able to participate and help amplify, bring these stories in front of all these fans. For people who love baseball and want to be a part of this, it’s such an important part of our history, the fabric of our country. It's something we love passionately. And we’re just proud to be a part of bringing a night like this to other fans who care passionately about it."

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