Behind The Scenes

ESPN personalities featured in Topps 10th Anniversary Allen & Ginter trading card set

How were the ESPN personalities selected?

There have been other ESPN personalities depicted in the Allen & Ginter collection of Topps baseball cards including Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso and the late Stuart Scott. “The personalities are picked based on relationships, collector interests, and collectibility,” said Susan Lulgjuraj, Topps marketing communications manager, regarding the approach for the series overall. “We look for world champions, quirkiness, and people who add to the fun of Allen & Ginter.” What’s behind the “look” of the cards? Said Lulgjuraj: “The images [that the artists work with] are sometimes provided by the personalities or we pick an image for them. There is an effect put on the images to give it that old-time feel.”

Last week, the Topps Company announced the 10th anniversary edition set of Allen & Ginter® cards, an eclectic, unique set of trading cards based on a tobacco set from the 1800s.

Topps has kept the spirit of the original set, bringing people from all walks of life onto the cards, including ESPN personalities Michelle Beadle of SportsNation, Grantland’s Jonah Keri and Zach Lowe, senior baseball writer Buster Olney, MLB Insider Keith Law, sports business reporter Darren Rovell and NBA reporter Brian Windhorst.

Front Row asked some of the ESPNers who are featured how it feels to be included in the set and got a feel for their card-collecting chops.

“I’m pumped to have my own trading card,” Beadle said. “To this day, my dad still talks about the time I turned a double play. I was 5. So this makes him happy.”

Beadle’s favorite baseball card?

“Oddly enough, my favorite card is an Oddibe McDowell card. As a kid, he was my favorite player growing up, because his name is cool. And I was 10.”

The SportsNation host added, “I collected mainly basketball cards – and Garbage Pail Kids [also produced by Topps] – growing up. I probably have complete sets from 1987 thru 1995. Must be worth tens of dollars by now.”

Admittedly not the hardcore card collector growing up, Lowe does share a common thread with Beadle when it came to collecting Garbage Pail Kids – a series of trading cards released in the mid ‘80s designed to parody the Cabbage Patch Kids dolls, which were immensely popular at the time.

“I would buy packs of baseball cards now and then, and once when I decided to pretend that I would care about cards, I spent like $10 on a David Robinson rookie card,” said Lowe. “I probably had more Garbage Pail Kids than baseball cards, though I have no idea why that was. What was the point of those? I think I still have a shoe box filled with them somewhere. That is probably worth real money.”

On being added to the Allen & Ginter set, Lowe said: “Bizarre? I have no clue why anyone would want a baseball card featuring my image and name, but I figure I can at least hoard all of them and hand them out to strangers when I get old.”

Perhaps the more serious collector of the three – collecting baseball cards from 1986-1994 – Rovell relished the opportunity to be included.

“It’s amazing to actually be in packs of cards,” Rovell said. “I had the privilege of being in two video games, but to actually touch a card of yours is pretty cool.”

Explaining how the opportunity arose, Rovell said, “I actually really got into the Allen & Ginter set and how quirky it was. Last year, I mentioned on Twitter that I purchased some Allen & Ginter cards, most notably the ones that has used pieces of scrubs worn by famous sports orthopedist Dr. James Andrews. Before I knew it, [director of player licensing] Jon Einalhori at Topps was soon asking me if I wanted to be in the set.”

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