On MLB Opening Day, attentive fans may notice something new on certain uniforms. No, not the sponsorship patches that seven teams will wear.
Fanatics Collectibles, Fanatics’ trading cards and collectibles business, received MLB and MLB Players Inc. approval to add “MLB Debut Patches” to the arms of several rookie big-leaguers. After those players register their first game action, the patches will be removed, and later placed in Topps trading card packs.
“For a player there is no bigger moment than the first time they step onto a field for their Major League debut,” MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said in a statement. “The Debut Patch is one way to capture the timeless nature of this moment and provide fans the opportunity to be part of it by collecting a player worn item.”
Fanatics Collectibles put out its first major Topps set, 2023 Series 1 Baseball, earlier this year, after acquiring the business in early 2022. Seeking to expand the 85-year-old brand, Fanatics has invested in social Topps content, including a series of spots featuring Mariners star Julio Rodriguez. As it leans further into marketing the brand, Fanatics Collectibles hired former Red Bull marketing executive Ken Turner to be its chief marketing officer.
“Debut Patches represent one of the first steps that Fanatics Collectibles is taking to bring the players and leagues closer to the products, and ultimately fans,” Fanatics Collectibles CEO Mike Mahan said in a statement.
The company is also building on its existing relationship with MLB, having served as the league’s official e-commerce partner.
“Topps has been a great partner to baseball for decades, and I think this particular initiative is crucial to the development of deeper fan engagement,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement.