Hobby Musings: Collector makes his Pro Debut thanks to Topps promotion – It’s a dream of many collectors to appear on an official baseball card. Unless you end up playing professional baseball or do something notable enough to get in a set like Allen & Ginter, it’s a dream that eludes many of us. However, lucky fan John Springstube will see that dream become reality later this year thanks to Topps’ Make Your Pro Debut promotion.
Going for a few years now, the Make Your Pro Debut prize is winnable by entering in a code from randomly inserted cards in Topps’ Minor League Heritage product. That was how Springstube found himself suiting up with a professional team. Speaking with the lucky winner, he explained that he initially came across it on the sells sheets from Dave and Adam’s Card World. Reflecting on it, he said: “It was kind of hard to believe that something like that was is in a promotion that I could win.”
After purchasing the product, he got about six of the instant win scratch-off cards and one of them gave him a chance to enter for the prize. From there, he filled out a questionnaire with essay questions for chance to win. A couple of months later, he got an email saying he won the big prize. Asked about his initial thoughts and reactions, he replied: “I thought it was a generic email response at first, but then I saw the extra line saying I had won. It was pretty shocking and exciting. I’ve entered contests all the time, but I never won the grand prize.”
From there, Springstube went through a whirlwind of preparations to get ready for the big game. Among other things, he went through three weeks of paperwork that included signing waivers and a trading card agreement. He also had to be fitted for a uniform, a hat and his own bat.
The team Springstube joined was the Fresno Grizzlies, the Triple-A affiliate of the Houston Astros. As such, Springstube got to rub elbows with top Houston prospects like Kyle Tucker. He described the actual day itself as pretty hectic, saying: “It started at around 5:45 in the morning and I wasn’t done until almost midnight.”
The packed day included, posing for photos, warmups, batting practice with the team and a first pitch. For liability reasons, he wasn’t able to play in the Grizzlies’ April 10 loss to the Tacoma Rainiers. However, one Grizzlies player wanted to get Springstube in the game. Asked to elaborate, he said: “A.J. Reed came up to me and said he wanted me to get his last at-bat in the game if it would have come up. I never got the chance, but he said he was being serious.”
Even without getting in the game, Springstube said his experience was incredible. A collector himself, he waited until after the game to pick some souvenirs. While he got a baseball signed by members of the team, the highlights items provided by Tucker. Elaborating further, he recalled: “I got my own Louisville Slugger bat with my name on it for batting practice. It got pretty l marked up from hitting. I got Kyle Tucker to sign it and provide an inscription. He then asked me if I wanted one his own bats and I said sure, so he gave me one of his bats and signed it for me too.”
Springstube’s trading card is set to appear in this year’s Topps Pro Debut set. He said he posed for roughly 70 photos for the card, but isn’t sure which one will ultimately be used. When asked why, he said: “It’s up to the editors to pick the one they want. I was able to offer some input for the photo and the information for my bio, but they’ll have the final say.”
He also said Topps will provide him with some of his Pro Debut trading cards. As a collector, he’s excited to see and hold them for the first time. If you happen to pull one in a pack, he said he’s looking forward to the experience of being asked for his autograph and will be happy to do so.
While Springstube didn’t hear directly from any previous Make Your Pro Debut winners, some did reach out via social media to offer congratulations. He did offer this advice for future winners though: “Take everything in. Enjoy every second and be a part of everything, including the interviews. It can be hectic, but it’s a lot of fun. We were surprised by the VIP treatment. Definitely enter those codes that you get in the boxes and be ready to write some good essay answers. This is probably the best promotion in all trading card boxes. For as close as you can get, it’s pretty awesome.”
For more information on John’s experience. check out our additional recap article HERE.
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