Paul: I'm delighted to welcome back Andrew Bishop with another guest post. Andrew dipped his toe into the NFT market last week and I thought it would make an interesting post, so without further ado, over to Andrew.
Every spring since I can remember, I anxiously await the arrival of the start of the major league baseball season. April ball is fun to watch as the players and teams are still working out the kinks from the offseason. It is also a chance to see how the new rookies perform in their first real games and see what the veteran players have left in the gas tank. Who is going to stay for the season, who is trade material and who will get sent down to AAA ball?
April is also when the new baseball cards are released. As a kid, the fun in collecting was all about opening the packs, which would have the star players inside, the new rookie cards and the best pitchers to trade with friends. As I got older, photographic art is something that I enjoyed more and more.
As an avid collector and fan, I have followed a lot of teams over the years. Some of my best baseball cards include Nolan Ryan, Reggie Jackson, Ricky Henderson, Ryne Sandberg, Don Mattingly, Ken Griffey Jr. and so on.
The TOPPS baseball card release this year, their 70th season, is a bit different, and like so many parts of our life, it is now impacted by technology. About two weeks ago, TOPPS announced that they would launch their first NFT cards. I have to admit, I didn’t quite know what an NFT was at the time. Since the announcement, I have been reading up on it and have to be honest, still trying to wrap my head around the idea of blockchain baseball cards and the fun of collecting them.
So why is TOPPS selling blockchain NFT cards in addition to regular cards? Well, simply, they believe there is a market there. Younger collectors still buy traditional cards and are using the TOPPS app to also collect, but NFT blockchain allows real collectors to collect and keep a validated original via blockchain data that is stored with each NFT. As I understand it, there’s no good way to price old and rare cards. Sellers still tend to look on eBay or related sites to see the last transaction price. Others send cards off by mail and pay to have them graded by speciality authenticators like PSA. Those processes are tedious and imperfect, and NFT Blockchain changes all of this by having non-fungible data stored.
So on the 21st of April, I got up at 2 a.m. Tokyo time, 1 p.m. in NY, and logged on to the Topps / WAX site to be one of the first to purchase (WAX was the official NFT distributor). Apparently, I wasn’t the only one because the site was overwhelmed and went down. After fifteen minutes, I went down as well until about 6 am. When I tried again, I finally got on the site only to see everything sold out. TOPPS suggested I go to the secondary marketplace and purchase. This meant I needed to buy crypto currency via the WAX Wallet. I bought some $USD 250 of crypto equivalent (this was harder than it should have been) and thought this would be plenty to get a good chunk of the set. I was wrong. some of the best players and rare NFT cards were already being advertised for purchase at hundreds of thousands of US dollars (crypto equivalent), definitely out of my ballpark. I settled for some well-known players, but less rare cards at the end of the day in the $1 to $100 USD range, including Japanese player Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels.
I’m still unsure what to do with these NFTs. Is it really a collectable? Nonetheless, it has been an interesting learning experience and I bought my first cryptocurrency, own the first blockchain NFT baseball cards ever offered and hopefully, in a hundred years my grandkids are enjoying the game of baseball as much as I did and marvelling at why some of the players are wearing Covid masks during a game.
To read more on this topic:
- What is an NFT?
- How the Trading Card industry is booming and why during the Pandemic?
- What is Topps?
- What is WAX?
- Why it’s worth spending millions of dollars on a single baseball card.
Andrew is Senior Vice President, Human Resources – Asian and Australia Markets, and Chief of Staff, Asian Markets at Reinsurance Group of America. You can read my recent interview with Andrew here and Andrew’s previous guest post on APAC travel during the pandemic.
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