As the reigning National League MVP and a member of the World Series champion Chicago Cubs, Kris Bryant is on top of the baseball world right now.
And that place in the game comes with signing a lot of autographs — and when it comes to baseball cards an exclusive deal to sign only for Topps’ products.
“It’s not too demanding for me. I feel like I’m kind of used to it now and I try to take the time for the fans to sign for every game and sign some autographs. My arm is used to it,” he said on Wednesday as part of an event held at MLB Network headquarters in Secaucus, N.J., to note the arrival of 2017 Topps Series 1. “Winning the world series and having the year that we did. All of this comes with that territory, and I wouldn’t have it any other way honestly.”
Bryant’s deal with Topps was a seven-figure contract — and that’s actually key for the young player who made just $652,000 last season. (He’s eligible for arbitration in 2018 and free agency in 2022 — but don’t worry, he’ll be fine as his signing bonus was $6.7 million back in 2013 when he was taken behind Mark Appel in the MLB Draft.)
“We are beyond excited to secure this exclusive deal with Kris Bryant.” said David Leiner, Topps’ VP and GM of North American Sports & Entertainment, at that time of the deal. “Never has The Topps Company executed such a long-term deal with any athlete. Kris is one of the elite players currently in Major League Baseball and we look forward to working with him as his career continues to flourish.”
Since appearing on his first autographed cards as a member of the USA Baseball squad back in 2012 — and his first cards in general as an Aflac All-American in 2009 — he’s appeared a total of on more than 3,000 different cards. Of those, more than 1,000 of those are certified autograph cards — that’s a lot of ink.
It also hasn’t hurt demand that before his MVP season he was the reigning National League Rookie of the Year — something that resonates well with collectors. In the interview session with hobby media, Bryant talked about liking all of the cards he sees — but struggled a bit when having to choose one autograph of someone else he’d want in his collection.
“That’s a tough one,” he said. “I think any oldschool player would be cool because some of them aren’t really around now, but I’m signing some of these cards that I get. Every single one I get and I say ‘I want to keep this one.’ I never do. Topps does a good job and sends me the cards that I want, but some of these cards are so cool with the color and everything about it.”
What else did Bryant have to say on other topics?
On the Topps Transcendent VIP party … “Everything about it was great. It was kinda cool how it wasn’t a huge crowd of people so I got a chance to talk to each and every one of them and hear their stories about collecting. It’s cool to see people doing something that they love — I get to play a game for a living and these people are big fans of us and big fans of baseball. They love following along and it was just really cool for me to hear their stories. What they do and kind of their favorite pieces in their collections.”
On 2017 Topps Series 1 … “I love ’em. I love anything. All of the baseball cards I usually get to sign are pretty cool. I don’t know how they are able to come up with some of this work but it’s pretty special. It captures the moment really — not just the action shots but some of the more peculiar faces we make playing. It’s always an adventure when I’m opening up these boxes and signing these cards because it’s a new card every time and I’m excited to sign them.”
On his generosity to a superfan (he gave him a game-used bat) a couple years ago on Twitter … “I think immediately after that people were tweeting me and asking me. It’s crazy I still get that same kind of question every now and then. I actually just read one the other day asking the same thing. That guy, his name’s Mike and I remember from maybe way back in my college days, he followed me around and never really asked for anything. He was always just tweeting me and just saying how big of a fan he was for me — he’s still doing that. This kind of came out of the blue and I was like ‘Oh this guy is really a good guy to me, he’s a good fan’ as many of them are. It was kind of something that I thought would be fun and a good thing. It opened a little can of worms but I’m just glad he’s such a big fan of mine.”
On young players to watch … “I think when you look at our organization as much as we’ve graduated some of the younger guys, myself included, I’ve been hearing a lot about Eloy Jimenez. I think he’s like 19 still and he’s been tearing it up in I think it was A-ball last year, probably Double-A this year. He looks like a pretty good one coming up. I think some guys in the big-leagues now — I really like Dansby Swanson — just how he plays the game coming from Vanderbilt and obviously you have a winning program there and just his whole demeanor and how he carries himself. I haven’t got a chance to play against him but I’ve seen plenty of highlights and he looks like he’s going to be a pretty good one for a long time.”
Here’s a video from the event at MLB Network HQ …
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