Hobby Musings: Judge making his presence felt in the hobby – Rookies make up a huge part of the hobby and Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge has strongly helped to reinforce that claim. With an impressive home run total matched only by his Herculean stature, Judge has made an impact both on the field and in the hobby. The demand for Judge’s trading cards and memorabilia has unsurprisingly led to a spike in their values. For more on Judge and what his successful start to 2017 means to the hobby, I had the chance to catch up with Topps’ Susan Lulgjuraj. The following interview was conducted via email.
KS: Aaron Judge has obviously had himself a nice start to the season. What kind of change in his card values and market have you seen since the season began?
SL: Personally, as someone who was collecting Aaron Judge cards, I saw an immediate impact on the value of his cards on the secondary market. Autographed cards that could once be had for $15-$25 jumped to $100+ in matter of about four weeks. It’s been crazy but a lot of fun to see the excitement around a young talent like Judge.
KS: In particular, which cards of his have you seen generate the most interest among collectors?
SL: All of his cards have generated interest from his 2017 Topps Baseball Series 1 rookie card to his 2017
KS: How would you rank Judge’s current hobby impact against some of the other hot baseball rookies over the past few seasons?
SL: They’re very similar in the sense that when a rookie is doing well, people want to collect their cards. The same could be said for Boston’s Andrew Benintendi this season. There is another factor that Judge is a New York Yankee, and will generate more interest in that fact alone. But make no mistake. He’s not getting attention because he plays in New York. He’s getting the attention because he’s destroying baseballs, and, in turn, people want keepsakes in the form of baseball cards to hold on to what could be an amazing season for him.
KS: The Yankees are one of baseball’s most popular teams in a huge market. How much has his team played into his popularity?
SL: Because Aaron Judge plays for the Yankees he’s going to get attention showered on him. He’ll be on national television more often, wind up on the cover of Sports Illustrated, and have a plethora of fans clamoring for his collectibles. However, it’s his size, power and personality rolled into this 6-foot-7 package that has helped his collectability.
KS: Topps has been able to capitalize on some of Judge’s success in real time with the Topps NOW card line. Are there any other ways you’re adjusting on the fly so to speak with him?
SL: Topps NOW is a great program because we can capture amazing moments as they’re happening. Collectors appreciate it too especially that you see with Judge. His first Topps NOW so far has the highest print run (as of the time of this writing). There weren’t too many adjustments to be made in other places because as a rookie, Topps had big plans for him already!
KS: How does the rise of a hot rookie like Judge impact your business strategy the rest of the season?
SL: We just look at checklists to ensure he’s included in the right products. However, Topps baseball cards focus on the league as a whole so it won’t change the traditional card products too much. But with the on-demand programs that we do with Topps.com, we can change things on the fly and offer a wide variety of Aaron Judge cards.
KS: We saw a similar situation in New York in 2016 both on the field and in the hobby with Gary Sanchez. How do you think Judge’s start to this season has compared to Sanchez’s rise last season?
SL: Their starts were similar, but Gary Sanchez had a little more pressure in the sense that he was the first of the Baby Bombers. Sanchez gave way to a number of the younger Yankees coming up.
KS: If Judge continues at this pace, how do you expect his card market and values to correspond?
SL: The card market should continue to go up until there is a leveling off, and my Judge collection will end up in a safety deposit box.
Hobby Musings: Judge making his presence felt in the hobby
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