Category Archives: MLB

O’Neil, Mackey, Foster Among Negro League Stars Featured In Strat-O-Matic, NLBM NFT Partnership

Strat-O-Matic, the market leader in sports simulation, and the Negro League Baseball Museum, the world’s only museum dedicated to preserving and celebrating the rich history of African-American baseball and its impact on the social advancement of America, today announced a partnership to distribute NFTs (non-fungible tokens) featuring all-time baseball greats from the Negro Leagues. The program includes partnerships with the estates of superstars like new Hall of Famer Buck O’Neil, Biz Mackey, Bill Foster, Rube Foster, Leon Day and Pete Hill in the first set of digital collectibles.

The NFT offerings will include images or media owned by the NLBM or estates as well as a voiceover discussing the player’s career and legacy and their unique Strat-O-Matic game card, playable via Strat-O-Matic’s proprietary game technology.

The NLBM will receive 25% of profits from the offering, making it one of the first philanthropic digital collectibles available.

“The Negro Leagues had a profound impact on the advancement of American civil rights and culture.” said Adam Richman, Strat-O-Matic C.E.O. “These NFTs will preserve this legacy and celebrate these players, who need to have their stories and contributions to history preserved for future generations.”

“The Negro League Baseball Museum is proud to continue its amazing partnership with Strat-O-Matic, which has long been a supporter of the museum and Negro Leagues history,” said Bob Kendrick, NLBM President. “The NFT offerings are a creative new way to help fans and collectors celebrate the greatness of these legendary players while supporting our mission.”

cover image: credit kc congdon

Costacos Collection Announces Inaugural NFT Drop with Baseball Legend Willie Mays

Today, the Costacos Collection announced its inaugural drop will feature one of the most respected legends in professional sports, Baseball Hall of Famer Willie Mays. The 90th Birthday Celebration Drop will take place this Sunday, October 24, as an ode to Willie’s iconic number and two days before the start of the 117th World Series. For the fifth year, the MVP of the Fall Classic will be recognized as the “Willie Mays World Series Most Valuable Player.”

Willie will be donating all proceeds from the drop to his Say Hey Foundation’s effort to honor the people who gave him a start in life, by establishing a baseball academy for underprivileged youth where he grew up in Alabama, and to restore the historic baseball facilities at Rickwood Field where Willie started his career with the Negro League Birmingham Black Barons. Mays said, “I’ve never forgotten the people who supported me, taught me, and helped me find my way. I want every child to have the same chances that I had, and this gives me a way to do that starting in my original hometown. Rickwood was the first place I ever got to see professional ballplayers, and I want these kids to learn the game and be inspired the way I was.” Rickwood Field itself serves as a central theme of the drop’s art.

The first drop tells the story of Willie’s path to the majors, from Fairfield Industrial High in Birmingham, to the Negro American League, culminating with his move to the New York Giants with whom he would win the Rookie of the Year Award in 1951. The various edition pieces capture the key themes and statistics of those periods, and the 1/1 hero piece adds to the story with a number of never-before-seen personal documents and images from Willie’s journey – most notably, a copy of Willie’s high school diploma, in which he was assigned a career in “cleaning, dyeing, and pressing.” Willie recalls that all Black kids were assigned trade careers, while white kids “on the other side of the barbed-wire fence” were able to choose their paths and professions. Willie’s journey to becoming one of America’s most beloved sports figures and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom was only possible because of baseball and the people of Fairfield and beyond who helped him chart a different path. The NFT art piece includes a voiceover in which Willie’s powerful story is told by an iconic voice of sports, Bob Costas, who will join Mays in donating to the baseball academy and Rickwood Field restoration project.

Costacos explained, “In the mid-1960s, I learned to read a box score by stealing my dad’s paper to see what magic Willie Mays had done the night before. Yet with all the historic moments in his career, Willie, the humblest GOAT you’ll ever meet, asked us to focus not on his 24 All Star Games, 2 MVP awards, World Series victory in ‘54, his 12 Gold Gloves or 660 home runs – rather, he saw this as a unique opportunity to pay tribute to his roots and earliest days growing up in Fairfield, Alabama. We’re honored to partner with the great Willie Mays and to give fans an opportunity to connect with the legend through one-of-a-kind digital art in support of the Say Hey Foundation.”

La Vida Baseball, NBC Sports Chicago Form Partnership To Expand Reach of ‘Being Guillén’

TeamWorks Media, the parent company of La Vida Baseball, today announced a new strategic content partnership with NBC Sports Chicago with ‘Being Guillén,’ La Vida Baseball’s most popular show moving to the NBC Sports Chicago lineup this month. The show will continue airing on the cable home of the White Sox through the end of 2021.

“We are very pleased with the growing popularity around ‘Being Guillén’ and this new content sharing partnership with NBC Sports Chicago helps us expand the reach of all things Ozzie and family at such a critical time of year for the White Sox and baseball in Chicago,” said Jesse Menendez, Managing Director of La Vida Baseball. “We are sure Ozzie’s stories and opinions that he and his sons bring in will make for great buzz and interesting conversation as the MLB Postseason heats up in the coming weeks.”

Guillén, the self-proclaimed “most popular person in Chicago,” with two of his sons, Ozzie Jr. and Oney focus on today’s sports happenings, as well as revisiting Ozzie’s colorful past on and off the field, especially as a member and then manager of the White Sox. From his days playing pickup basketball against Michael Jordan to his time with the 2005 White Sox World Series Championship team, ‘Being Guillén,’ will now have an expanded audience with the reach of NBC Sports Chicago.

The partnership with NBC Sports Chicago is the latest in a series of content expansion moves La Vida Baseball has introduced in the past few months. Others include ‘Locker Room Talk’, a weekly show highlighting the achievements of women and Latinas in sports hosted by Julie Alexandria and Jennifer Mercedes, ‘Pólvora, Voz & Diamante’, a high-energy Spanish language show hosted by Jesse Castillo, a two-time Mexican League MVP, Polo Ascencio, the Cardinals Spanish language broadcaster, and Mexican rock star Pliego Villarreal, as well as a Latino Heritage Month show on Chicago Cubs Marquee Sports Network.

Ruth, McCovey, DiMaggio/Monroe Pieces Highlight HA Summer Auction

$20 million worth of sports history will be up for grabs when Dallas-based Heritage Auctions conducts its star-studded Summer Platinum Auction which is underway and continues through August 21-22. The event features a treasure-trove of sports memorabilia including a vintage Babe Ruth rookie trading card worth more than $1 million, the finest known baseball signed by Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe, Magic Johnson’s title-clinching jersey from his rookie season with the Lakers, another $1 million artifact, and the collection of San Francisco Giants beloved icon Willie McCovey.

Chris Ivy, founder and president of Heritage Sports, recently showcased the pieces at the 41st National Sports Collectibles Convention in Chicago.

For the first time, all of the trophies, rings and plaques accrued by Baseball Hall of Famer Willie McCovey will be made available to fans and collectors during the August auction. The Willie McCovey Collection – which features some 210 lots, among them some of the most coveted hardware in baseball history – is a centerpiece of the event. Among the artifacts of the first baseman known as “Stretch” are a 2012 San Francisco Giants World Series Championship ring and a his first-baseman’s glove that he used in games from 1975 through 1980. The expansive, extraordinary collection includes a myriad of personal effects from throughout the Baseball Hall of Famer’s career.

The 1916 M101-4 Sporting News Babe Ruth Rookie card, graded PSA EX-MT 6, which shot up to $370,000 within hours of opening. No surprise there: Just last weekend Heritage sold one of the highest-graded 1933 Goudey Ruths for a record-setting $540,000 in the auction house’s Summer Sports Card Catalog sale, more than five times than what a similar card realized just 10 months ago.

The Johnson jersey is one of the finest NBA jerseys ever to head to auction, and is photo-matched to that championship game, when Magic, en route to the first of his three Finals MVP awards, took center stage – playing every position that night, including center in the absence of an injured Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Johnson wore the jersey again during the 1984 Finals loss to the Boston Celtics.

This is a monster piece. Twenty-four hours after bidding opened, it was already up to $330,000. With more than three weeks to go before the auction.
The bevy of museum-quality pieces on the block range from a 1920 Ruth game-used and signed bat (already up to $280,000 in early bidding) to the 1955 New York Yankees American League Championship Ring presented to Mickey Mantle to items owned and worn by Muhammad Ali never before displayed to the public.

The finest-known baseball signed by Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio, has already grabbed the attention of the international media.

La Vida Baseball Launches New All-Female and Latina Multimedia Show ‘Locker Room Talk’ Wednesday

TeamWorks Media, the parent company of La Vida Baseball, today announced the launch of its new weekly show highlighting the achievements of women and Latinas in sports, “Locker Room Talk.” Hosted by Julie Alexandria and Jennifer Mercedes, two Latinas with more than 20 years of sports industry reporting experience, “Locker Room Talk” is a show celebrating women in all aspects of the sports world by recognizing their contributions and the barriers they have overcome in their journeys. The show debuts Wednesday August 4 with new episodes rolling out weekly on YouTube and Facebook along with additional content across all La Vida Baseball social channels. The promo for the show can be seen here https://vimeo.com/572384643

“Women have always been at the forefront of challenging cultural norms. This show was created as a platform for the incredible community of trailblazers who continue to redefine our industry,” said Jesse Menendez, Managing Director of La Vida Baseball.  “Julie Alexandria and Jennifer Mercedes are leading important conversations with industry leaders. With Locker Room Talk, Julie and Jennifer have created a space where women can share their stories, experiences and of course their triumphs. Everyone needs to watch this show.”

“Locker Room Talk is my way of giving back and creating space for the next generation of women who are looking to enter the world of sports broadcasting and business,” said co-host Julie Alexandria.

Co-host Jennifer Mercedes added, “Forget about getting your foot in the door, with Locker Room Talk we’ve created our own door. Our goal is that it’s big enough to let in as many women as possible.”

Guests currently lined up for “Locker Room Talk” include NY Yankees hitting coach Rachel Balkovec, NFL Network’s MJ Acosta-Ruiz, Chief Business Officer at A-Rod Corp. Kelly Laferriere , MLB agent Lonnie Murray, diplomat and non-profit We Are All Human CEO Claudia Romo Edelman, MLB writer Shakeia Taylor, Turner Sports’ Lisa Byington (first woman to call NCAA men’s March Madness game), MLB Network’s Melanie Newman, ESPN’s Sarah Spain, Drone Racing League president Rachel Jacobson and Arizona Diamondbacks’ Mariana Patraca.

In addition to “Locker Room Talk,” LaVida Baseball has a wide range of social media streaming series, highlighted by “Being Guillén”, a hilarious weekly show and podcast, hosted by former World Series Champion manager, Ozzie Guillén and two of his sons, Ozzie Guillén Jr. and Oney Guillén; and “Polvora, Voz & Diamante”, a high energy Spanish language show hosted by a Mexican League MVP, the Cardinals Spanish language broadcaster and a Mexican rock star. Earlier this year La Vida Baseball launched “The Year of 21,” a multi-platform content initiative created to inform, engage and educate fans worldwide about the life, the impact and the legacy of Roberto Clemente.

Gehrig Speech NFT Helps Relaunch NY Sports Hall

The New York Sports Hall of Fame relaunched today with a slate of digital firsts, including bidding on a non-fungible token (NFT) of the speech regarded as the most famous in sports history.

The historic 1-of-1 NFT of uncut extant film of the iconic 1939 “Luckiest Man” address by New York Yankees captain Lou Gehrig is open for bidding at opensea.io/collection/gehrig. The film is the longest single-source recording of the speech and the first known Gehrig speech NFT. 

Delivered at Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day at Yankee Stadium, the speech is part of a New York Sports Hall of Fame collection that includes filmed remarks at the same ceremony by baseball legend Babe Ruth and Yankees manager Joe McCarthy. The three men were inducted into the Hall between 1989 and 1991. 

After a long hiatus, the New York Sports Hall of Fame relaunched today in digital form at newyorksportshall.com and on the prominent NFT marketplace OpenSea at opensea.io/nys.  Later this year, the Hall plans to release digital commemoratives of more of its 310 inductees to date and to open balloting for its next member class.

The New York Sports Hall of Fame’s extensive collection of original Greater New York historical content is preserved from more than 150 years of various sports developments, from Major League Baseball to six-day bicycle racing. The Hall archives illustrate how the history of Greater New York sports has helped shape culture and society in the region and beyond.

Gehrig was voted into the New York Sports Hall of Fame twice, in 1989 for professional baseball and two years later for college baseball. The former Columbia University star and record-setting Yankees first baseman was born, raised and educated in New York City.

Well known for its line, “the luckiest man on the face of the earth,” Gehrig’s speech was delivered on July 4, 1939. At the time, Gehrig was dying of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS, the rare and incurable disease that became known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. 

The Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day NFT collection on OpenSea accepts the popular cryptocurrency Ethereum, which can be purchased on the exchange Coinbase and used on OpenSea with the digital wallet MetaMask.

Launched 32 years ago, the New York Sports Hall of Fame is owned and operated by the streaming service New York Sports Experience (newyorkse.com).

“From its start, the New York Sports Hall of Fame has been dedicated to the preservation and commemoration of the rich history of Greater New York sports,” said Jordan Sprechman, New York Sports Experience’s founder and an original New York Sports Hall of Fame officer. “Today’s digital expansion reflects that mission.”

Gehrig Career Simulations and ‘What If’ Highlight Strat-O-Matic Celebration Of Lou Gehrig Day

Strat-O-Matic, the market leader in sports simulation, today released the results of three simulations tied to baseball’s observation of “Lou Gehrig Day” as part of its celebration of the endeavor across the sport. Full details of each simulation are posted at http://www.strat-o-matic.com.

The first is a “Home Run Derby” featuring two pairs of famed Yankee sluggers during their most prolific seasons. Gehrig took on his 1927 teammate Babe Ruth and 1961 “M&M Boys” Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris in a 10 at-bat format. Gehrig hit just one home run in his first four at bats to two by each of the other competitors, but slammed five in his last six times up to win with six bombs to four each by Ruth, Maris and Mantle.

Second is an imagined contest in which all the competitors wore #4 in their careers. In the simulation, which pitted the N.L. vs. the A.L. Gehrig went 0-for-4 against Blake Snell and 1950s journeyman Hal Jeffcoat, but his Junior Circuit squad took a 3-0 verdict behind two home runs by Hall of Famer Goose Goslin and eight innings of four-hit pitching by 1960s lefty George Brunet.

In the final simulation, Strat-O-Matic reimagined Gehrig’s career had he not been stricken with ALS, beginning with the 1938 season, during which his numbers were likely reduced in the early stages of the disease. In the replay, Gehrig plays through 1942, his age 39 season, amassing a total of 676 doubles (which would have placed him third at the time of his retirement, instead of 11th), 610 home runs (second, rather than third) and 2488 RBI (first, instead of third).

In addition to conducting the simulations, Strat-O-Matic will donate 10% of net sales today (June 2) to The ALS Association Greater New York Chapter, home region to Gehrig and the game company celebrating its 60th year. June 2 was both the day that Gehrig began his consecutive games played streak in 1925 (first game started), and the date of his death in 1941. In addition to increasing awareness of the disease and fundraising to fight it, Lou Gehrig Day also serves to celebrate those working to end ALS.

Strat-O-Matic To Celebrate Lou Gehrig Day With Simulations, ALS Association Donation

With the recent announcement that baseball will observe “Lou Gehrig Day” annually on June 2, Strat-O-Matic, the market leader in sports simulation, today unveiled its plans to honor the all-time great first baseman whose untimely passing from ALS cut short his legendary career. In addition to donating 10% of net sales on that date to The ALS Association Greater New York Chapter, home region to Gehrig and the game company celebrating its 60th year, Strat-O-Matic will simulate several scenarios related to the Hall of Famer.

Beginning on Monday, May 31, and continuing through Wednesday, Strat-O-Matic will release three simulations by its research team that include an extension of Gehrig’s career past 1939, had he not been stricken with the progressive neurodegenerative disease that often bears his name; a home run derby between Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris; and a contest featuring all-time stars who wore his famed #4.

Lou Gehrig (Met Museum/The Jefferson R. Burdick Collection)

June 2 was both the day that Gehrig began his consecutive games played streak in 1925, and the date of his death in 1941. In addition to increasing awareness of the disease and fundraising to fight it, Lou Gehrig Day also serves to celebrate those working to end ALS.

“Lou Gehrig’s accomplishments on the field and impact off the field are immense, and we’re pleased to be honoring him as part of baseball’s new Lou Gehrig Day across the sport,” said Adam Richman, Strat-O-Matic President. “We are proud to incorporate a donation to the ALS Association Greater New York Chapter and we hope fans will enjoy the simulations around one of our most popular historical players.”

Topps, FOX MLB To Celebrate Baseball With Pop Artist Collaborations

Bringing together the worlds of baseball, pop art and broadcasting, Topps and FOX Sports today announced collaborations with some of the most talented and influential pop artists in the world to produce original artwork displays and short-form content to be highlighted during FOX MLB broadcasts this season. The work of noted creators like The Shoe Surgeon, Sophia Chang, CES, Distortedd and others will drop during Baseball Night in America, the 2021 MLB All-Star Game presented by Mastercard and related programming all summer.

The artists, who have partnered with Topps on programs like Project70® and Project 2020 that utilize their skills in reimagining classic baseball cards, will create a variety of pieces which may include shoe designs, paintings, sculpture and more.

“The way that pop art and baseball have come together through the amazing work of these superstar pop artists in Topps Project70 and Project 2020 is a great blueprint for some of the creative ideas we can do in the collaboration with FOX Sports,” said Jeff Heckman, Topps Global Director, New Business Ventures. “Opening up the canvas beyond cards and revealing the work across FOX MLB platforms will further showcase their creativity.”

Integration into FOX’s MLB Baseball Night in America broadcasts begins Saturday, May 22 as The Shoe Surgeon creates an exclusive pair of sneakers for Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts. The running collaboration will be featured through unique teases in respective pregame shows, pre-pitch rollouts for each game and in-game bumps.

“FOX Saturday Baseball and Topps are a perfect pairing of two brands that live and breathe Major League Baseball,” said Robert Gottlieb, FOX Sports Executive Vice President, Head of Marketing. “Working with Topps to celebrate special baseball moments is a labor of love for all of us at FOX Sports.”

Further details surrounding the 2021 MLB All-Star Game and related programming will be announced at a later date.

The 2021 MLB schedule for FOX, FS1 and FOX Deportes can be found here. All games are simulcast on the FOX Sports app, which provides live streaming video of FOX Sports content through iOS and Android devices.

Strat-O-Matic, Marquee Sports Network Continue Partnership With Season, Historical Simulations

Strat-O-Matic (www.strat-o-matic.com), the market leader in sports simulations, and Marquee Sports Network, the broadcast home of the Chicago Cubs, today announced the continuation and expansion of their partnership to provide data and simulations of past, present and future Cubs-related content for use in various multimedia formats this year.

Among the planned simulations are a tournament featuring the top 32 teams in Cubs history and matchups between the all-time greatest Cubs players and the best of each of their 2021 opponents. Last week, the Cubs-Braves matchup was featured, with the Cubs winning 5-3 in 10 innings. See that coverage here: https://www.marqueesportsnetwork.com/ultimate-lineups/.

The partnership began last year, when Strat-O-Matic conducted several Cubs-related simulations, including Marquee announcer Jim Deshaies pitching against the vaunted 1927 Yankees and the Ultimate Cubs Lineup, a tournament of all-time great Cubs teams as selected by numerous Marquee broadcasters.

“We are pleased to be expanding our partnership with Marquee Sports Network after a great start last year,” said Strat-O-Matic President Adam Richman. “We just touched the surface of the many opportunities to bring Marquee’s tremendous content to share with Cubs fans, who are so passionate about the team’s history as well as the 2021 team.”

“The simulations last year proved a hit with viewers, and we couldn’t be more excited to be partnering with Strat-O-Matic again this season,” Marquee Sports Network General Manager Mike McCarthy said. “Our broadcasters enjoy being involved and we look forward to getting them as well as fans involved in the new programming.”

Additional content using Strat-O-Matic data will be announced in the coming weeks.

FanDuel Group Collaborates with MotorCity Casino As Official Gaming Partner Of Tigers, Red Wings

FanDuel Group today announced a new collaboration with MotorCity Casino that provides FanDuel Sportsbook with official gaming partner status with the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Red Wings, two of Detroit’s most iconic professional sports franchises. 

FanDuel Sportsbook will be prominently featured on static and digital signage at both Comerica Park and Little Caesars Arena – including the outfield wall and on dasher boards – and be featured on the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Red Wings Radio Networks, which reach fans across the state of Michigan.

In collaboration with MotorCity Casino, FanDuel Group recently launched a fully integrated, real money online gaming experience for residents and visitors to the state of Michigan. The FanDuel Sportsbook & Casino app and the standalone FanDuel Casino app are both available for iOS and Android.  

“After a very successful launch in Michigan, we are excited to continue our momentum by partnering in this way with two of the most iconic sports organizations in the country,” said Mike Raffensperger, CMO of FanDuel Group. “To celebrate, we are offering a $25 registration bonus for all eligible Red Wings and Tigers fans that use the code DETROIT after registering for a FanDuel Sportsbook account.”  

This partnership with the Tigers is part of FanDuel Group’s continued strategy of aligning with Major League Baseball teams in markets where mobile gaming is permitted. FanDuel is recognized by Major League Baseball as one of roughly fifteen MLB Authorized Gaming Operators. FanDuel is also an official sports betting partner of the National Hockey League. 

The Tigers and Red Wings are also marketing partners with MotorCity Casino. MotorCity Casino is FanDuel Group’s sports betting and casino collaborator in Michigan, and the home of the state-of-the-art FanDuel Sportsbook at MotorCity Casino in Detroit that opened in March 2020.  Little Caesars Arena, home of the Red Wings, features the MotorCity Casino Club where fans in select seating locations will, when safe to do so, be able to enjoy a lively VIP experience with gourmet food and beverage options.  For select Red Wings road games, MotorCity Casino, when safe to do so, will be hosting viewing parties featuring food, drink, giveaways, and the occasional appearance by a Detroit sports legend.  Comerica Park features the MotorCity Casino Tiger Club.  Baseball fans will also be able to grab a cold drink at the MotorCity Casino Hotel “Off Ramp Bar” located inside Comerica Park.     

For more information on the FanDuel Sportsbook and sports betting content, follow @FDSportsbook on Twitter.  All core services affecting wagering for online gaming and sports betting will be administered by FanDuel, in compliance with gaming law and sports league rules.  

cover image: Pixabay/bk_advtravlr

Goose Island Beer Company To Be Presenting Sponsor of La Vida Baseball’s Being Guillén In April

TeamWorks Media today announced that Chicago’s Goose Island Beer Company will become the presenting sponsor of Being GuillénLa Vida Baseball’sregular visit with the Guillén family for the opening month of the MLB season. The show will stream from the Goose Island Brewhouse opening week to coincide with the Cubs home opener and then April 8 (White Sox home opener) before moving back to the La Vida Baseball® studio in Chicago for the rest of the month. It will feature Ozzie Sr, Ozzie Jr, and Oney Guillén offering their always entertaining take on baseball and family.

TeamWorks Media is the parent company of La Vida Baseball® and this is an expansion of the partnership with Goose Island that began last October.

“We are all looking forward with a return to normalcy this spring, and nothing could be more fun than to spend it with the Guillén family as fans and baseball return to Chicago,” said Jay Sharman, CEO of TeamWorks Media. “Our partnership with Goose Island got off to a great start in October as the season ended, and we are ready to expand it with some fun engagement during MLB’s opening month.”

“We’re excited to continue our partnership with the Guillén family who does so much for the Chicago community,” said T.J. Annerino,  Director of Experiential Marketing for Goose Island. “We’ve been lucky to work with Ozzie and the Being Guillén show in the past and are looking forward to continuing the partnership with La Vida Baseball®.  The Guillen family embodies one of the best traditions in Chicago – sharing opinions and arguing about baseball over beers. We love everything about it.”

The show will touch on all the recent developments in and around the Chicago teams and look ahead to what is one of the most anticipated seasons in baseball in The Windy City for some time. There will be special guests from around the country as well as engaging fan segments and a host of other promotions as Being Guillén and Goose Island help celebrate the exciting return of baseball.

Additional La Vida Baseball® programming includes the live social media streaming series, La Vida Baseball ¡Live!, the brand’s weekday interactive, fan-centric live show, hosted by Jennifer Mercedes (@Chica_Deportes) and Julie Alexandria (@JulieAlexandria); Gaming with The Guilléns, a live, engaging Twitch experience where Ozzie Guillén Jr. challenges Major Leaguers to play him in the video game “MLB The Show,” and the rowdy and hilarious Spanish language show, Pólvora, Voz y Diamante, hosted by Polo Ascencio, Pliego Villa and Jesse Castillo, offering baseball conversation like you’ve never seen before and mixing hilarious pop-culture sensibilities with an undeniable love for the game.

Sports Illustrated, Topps Team for a 70th Anniversary Card Set Featuring Classic Baseball Covers

Sports industry titans, Sports Illustrated and Topps, come together to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the first Topps baseball cards with a new series launching March 16. With a total of 70 cards in the special edition set, each one will depict one of the most memorable Sports Illustratedbaseball covers ever printed. Two new cards will be offered per week, printed on demand and available for only seven days. Following a similar way in which TOPPS NOW products are made available, the 70th Anniversary cards will be printed exclusively to meet demand. Fans and collectors will be able to view and purchase the cards as they are released week to week on https://www.topps.com/cards-collectibles/online-brands/sports-illustrated.html.

Among the initial card offerings are legendary covers featuring Mike Trout (August 27, 2012), Duke Snider (June 27, 1955), Larry Walker (June 11, 2001), Kirby Puckett (April 6, 1992), Vladimir Guerrero Sr. (May 1, 2000), Boston Red Sox (November 10, 2004), Greg Maddux (August 14, 1995), Mookie Betts (October 28, 2020), Derek Jeter (June 21, 1999), and Stan Musial/Ted Williams (July 8, 1957).

“Millions of baseball fans know and love both Topps and Sports Illustrated, and we’re proud to be able to bring these two iconic names together in this highly collectible product,” said Jeff Heckman, Global Director of E-commerce, Topps. “The amazing photography from nearly seven decades ofSports Illustrated covers has provided works of art that can also be cherished as collectible cards to help relive great memories.”

“For both baseball fans and collectors, Topps and Sports Illustrated rank as two of the most venerable brands in sports,” said Michael Sherman, VP Media Brands, Authentic Brands Group, owner of Sports Illustrated. “We’re thrilled to continue building the brand’s legacy in the booming collectibles space and help commemorate Topps’ 70th anniversary with so many of Sports Illustrated’s historic covers.”

Alliance Sports Creates Fund to Provide Capital to Minor League Baseball Teams

Alliance Sports LLC (“Alliance Sports”), in partnership with funds managed by Oaktree Capital Management, L.P. will provide loans to Minor League Baseball (“MiLB”) teams in need of capital through a newly created fund. 

The fund will be for MiLB teams impacted by COVID-19 who need financing. Eligibility criteria includes all levels of MiLB affiliated teams with a trailing EBITDA of greater than $300,000 and a trailing three-year average revenue of greater than $3,000,000. Loan sizes are expected to range from $1 million to $10 million, with a 2 to 5-year term and an interest rate of 8-12%. 

“We believe that Alliance Sports is uniquely positioned to provide capital to MiLB teams,” said Larry Botel, President of Alliance Sports. “As fellow owners, we have a deep understanding of the details of the business and have the ability to work with owners to create financings that we believe meet the needs of the teams without being over burdening.” 

Alliance Sports, founded by Gary Green (CEO) and Larry Botel, owns and operates the Omaha Storm Chasers, the Triple-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals; the Richmond Flying Squirrels, the San Francisco Giant’s Double-A affiliate; the Montgomery Biscuits, the Tampa Bay Rays’ Double-A affiliate; and Union Omaha, a USL League One Team. Alliance Sports also owns the digital platform and publication Baseball America Magazine. 

This portfolio of business has put Alliance Sports in a unique position to provide capital to the minor league sports industry.

Snoop Dogg, Futura, Ron English Among Artists In ‘Project70’ Series Throughout 2021, Launching Today

On the heels of its overwhelmingly successful Project 2020, Topps today unveiled the first cards in Project70, a new series which celebrates the 70th anniversary of the first Topps baseball set in a comprehensive program featuring 51 premier artists and designers from around the world each creating 20 cards of their own player and card year design choice. The set commemorates both the initial year of 1951 and the 70 years that it has produced baseball cards, with three new issues daily, each available for 70 hours. Similar to its Topps NOW and Project 2020 products, Topps will print only the number of each card ordered in that time frame.

The set features premium, thick trading cards encased in a protective plastic case, as well as several premium offerings. Each day’s new pieces are available at http://www.topps.com/project70.

The creators selected to participate comprise a diverse group that includes the likes of rap musician Snoop Dogg, graffiti artist Futura, pop artist Ron English, jeweler Ben Baller, painter Greg ‘Craola’ Simkins, comic and album artist Alex Pardee, sneaker artist The Shoe Surgeon, designer Sophia Chang and many more. Nineteen of the 20 artists from Project 2020, including Baller, Chang, Gregory Siff, Fucci, Mister Cartoon and others return for Project70.

In contrast to Project 2020, in which artists were assigned specific player cards to interpret, Project70 allows each creator to choose any player and card design from the last seven decades.

“Project70 is one of our most ambitious sets ever, celebrating 70 years of Topps baseball cards in a contemporary way,” said Jeff Heckman, Global Director of Ecommerce. “Giving these creators the freedom to select the players and designs they want to interpret as they see fit means we will have very different cards from these uniquely and diversely talented individuals.

“We can’t wait to see what their fertile minds will produce, and we know that collectors and baseball fans share that anticipation,” Heckman added.

In addition to the base units, Topps is randomly inserting a limited number of rainbow foil parallel cards, numbered to 70, plus a foil numbered 1/1 Gold Frame for each card, into print runs. Collectors who purchase all 20 cards from an artist will also receive a gold-stamped bonus print featuring all 20 Project70 cards from that artist.

The artists contributing to Project70 include:

Action Bronson, musician, New York
Alex Pardee, comics/apparel, Los Angeles
*Andrew Thiele, art/design, New York
*Ben Baller, jeweler, Los Angeles
*Blake Jamieson, pop art/portraits, New York
Blue the Great, painting, Los Angeles
Bobby Hundreds, illustrator/writer/photographer, Los Angeles
Brittney Palmer, model/artist, Los Angeles
CES, graffiti, Bronx, New York
Chinatown Market, streetwear, Los Angeles
Chuck Styles, fine art, Philadelphia
Claw Money, public art, New York
Distortedd, illustrations, Philadelphia
DJ Skee, artist/TV host, Los Angeles
*Don C, streetwear, Chicago
*Efdot, murals, New York
*Ermsy, cartoons, UK and Paris
*Fucci, pop painting, Montreal and Toronto
FUTURA, graffiti, New York
Greg “Craola” Simkins, surrealism, Los Angeles
*Gregory Siff, painting, Brooklyn and Los Angeles
Infinite Archives, contemporary art, fashion
*Jacob Rochester, pop art, Los Angeles
Jeff Staple, graphic and fashion designer, New York
*JK5, tattoo, Brooklyn
Jonas Never, murals, Los Angeles
*Joshua Vides, stencils, Los Angeles
*Keith Shore, creative design, Philadelphia
*King Saladeen, murals, Philadelphia
Lauren Taylor, mixed media, Vancouver
Matt McCormick, multimedia, Los Angeles
*Matt Taylor, poster design, U.K.
Mikael B, graffiti, impressions, Copenhagen
Mimsbandz, wristband art, Los Angeles
*Mister Cartoon, tattoos, Los Angeles
Morning Breath, graphics, apparel, San Francisco, New York
*Naturel, murals, Washington D.C.
New York Nico, filmmaker, New York
*Oldmanalan, streetwear, Sacramento
POSE, pop artist, Chicago
Quiccs, toy design, Manila
Risk, sculpture, graffiti, Los Angeles
Ron English, pop art, filmmaker, Jersey City, N.J.
Sean Wotherspoon, streetwear, Richmond, Va.
The Shoe Surgeon, streetwear, Los Angeles
Snoop Dogg, rap musician, Los Angeles
SoleFly, streetwear, Miami
*Sophia Chang, design, New York
Toy Tokyo, pop art/toys, New York
*Tyson Beck, logo art, Adelaide, Australia
UNDEFEATED

La Vida Baseball Launches “The Year of 21” Multi-Platform Experience Dedicated To Roberto Clemente

La Vida Baseball, the leading multi-language Latino baseball lifestyle media company, today announced the launch of “The Year of 21,” a multi-platform content initiative created to inform, engage and educate fans worldwide about the life, the impact and the legacy of Roberto Clemente.

In collaboration with a range of media platforms, content creators and unique voices, “The Year of 21” will elevate the living legacy of Clemente’s humanitarian worldview, cultural impact and athletic brilliance through an unprecedented year-spanning reflection of history, current-day vitality and impact well into the future. The season-long celebration launches in April.

“For baseball fans, Roberto Clemente and his number ‘21’ are truly iconic, and the spirit of his legacy is more relevant than ever right now,” La Vida Baseball Managing Director Jesse Menendez said. “2021 is the right moment to elevate and celebrate everything Clemente stands for. Using the entire “The Year of 21” to elevate his legacy is something La Vida Baseball, its platforms, its partners and its community are built to execute better than anyone.”

“On behalf of the Clemente family, we’re excited to be partnered with La Vida Baseball for ‘The Year of 21,’ Roberto Clemente, Jr. said. “We’ve had a great relationship with La Vida Baseball since they launched years ago and they are the right partner to continue our father’s legacy and build upon the growing positive movement of what the number 21 signifies through stories that involve fans, celebrities and generations around the world.”

La Vida Baseball has been acquiring exclusive content assets, securing commitments – headlined by full support of the Clemente Family – and conducting more than 100 in-depth interviews with current and former MLB players, fellow Hall of Famers, star-struck celebrity fans, Clemente family members and others to power the project.

“The Year of 21” programming lineup will include a signature documentary series, a lineup of incredible short-form films, all-star roundtables, a Mi Clemente video series, a dynamic podcast series, energizing live events, memorable regional tie-ins, limited-edition merchandise collaborations and exclusive collectibles, with even more programming elements to be released at key moments during The Year of 21. Additional media, content and sponsorship partners will be announced in the coming weeks.

The La Vida Baseball network was launched in 2017 by TeamWorks Media, the award-winning content studio, and has since become the hub of coverage and community of the Latino influence within baseball, its lifestyle, its players and its fans. La Vida Baseball has created more than a dozen content franchises featuring more than 200 current and former MLB players, baseball media and celebrity super-fans, including “Being Guillen,” featuring the family of longtime MLB star player and manager Ozzie Guillen; “Polvoro, Voz y Diamante,” a rollicking weekly Spanish-language show; the “La Vida Baseball Live” studio show; and wildly popular Instagram Stories and viral moments curated by on-air talent Jennifer Mercedes and Julie Alexandria, widely shared by MLB players and fans.

”In this time of such upheaval and social consciousness both in and out of the athletic world, there may be no more important figure to honor and recognize than Roberto Clemente, and we are excited to be able to work with the Clemente family and a growing list of partners to bring his entire story, as well as those of who he has impacted, and continues to impact to life,” TeamWorks Media CEO Jay Sharman said. “In all our work, we have seen the reverence and respect athletes from all walks of life, and especially Latino athletes, have for Roberto, and we feel that ‘The Year of 21’ will expand the celebration and appreciation of Roberto Clemente to an even wider, cross-generation audience.”

Clemente, the Hall of Fame outfielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates and one of the most inspiring athletes in modern history. Clemente’s charity work in Latin American and Caribbean countries during the off-seasons, especially his work in his native Puerto Rico with young people, was what he may be best remembered for. On December 31, 1972, he lost his life in a plane crash at the age of 38 while attempting to deliver aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. The following season, the Pirates retired his uniform number 21, and MLB renamed its annual Commissioner’s Award in his honor; now known as the Roberto Clemente Award, given to the player who “best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team.” His impact went well beyond his 3,000 hits and a myriad of other marks in and around baseball and the city of Pittsburgh. His trailblazing work for causes and in uniting peoples of different backgrounds across the Americas is even bigger, than his athletic impact.

Strat-O-Matic Expands Partnership With Negro League Baseball Museum

As Black History Month begins, Strat-O-Matic (www.strat-o-matic.com), the leader in sports simulation games now celebrating its Diamond Anniversary, is proud to announce the renewal and expansion of its partnership with the Negro League Baseball Museum (NLBM) and President Bob Kendrick. Strat-O-Matic continues to augment its selection of popular Negro League baseball roster sets, with 10% of all sales donated to the Kansas City, Mo., based museum.

Strat-O-Matic has the most robust and highly researched Negro League simulation products, now boasting more than 25 individual seasons rosters dating back to 1908, plus Stars and legendary Diamond Gems rosters. Three new rosters, 1918, 1928 and 1943, will be released on February 19 along with the rest of SOM’s current baseball card and digital sets.

“In our 60th Anniversary year, we couldn’t be more excited about extending our partnership with the Negro League Baseball Museum and we’re especially grateful to Bob Kendrick for his support and friendship,” said Adam Richman, Strat-O-Matic President. “We look forward to celebrating the 101st anniversary of the founding of the Negro Leagues throughout 2021,”

“Strat-O-Matic has been a great partner in helping further the Museum’s mission of preserving and celebrating the rich history of African-American baseball and its impact on the social advancement of America,” said Kendrick. “Members and fans often talk about what it would be like to see these players in action, and Strat-O-Matic continues to be a great way to realistically relive their performances.”

Strat-O-Matic released its first comprehensive Negro League products in 2001 with more than 100 players in the Negro League Stars set.

MLB season just weeks away as players tell owners no deal on delay

MLB team owners had hoped the start of the new season could be pushed back as the world still grapples with COVID-19. The coronavirus pandemic forced last season to be delayed just as Opening Day was about to be held, and there have been concerns that, with the virus still running wild, a similar situation could arise this year. However, MLB players, through the MLB Players Association (MLBPA), have told the owners to dig in and figure out what they need to do to protect everyone, refusing to approve any delay to the new season. 

The MLBPA has formally rejected the owners’ request for a longer break in the baseball action that had asked to push the start of spring training out to March 22 and Opening Day to April 29. With the response now given, the MLB season is only a couple of weeks away, with spring training to begin as planned on February 17 and Opening Day to be held on its expected date, April 1. Perhaps if the owners had been more willing to offer monetary incentives to players, they would have been willing to accept a deal. 

The players union explained in a statement about the upcoming schedule that everyone felt as though the owners were trying to back them into a corner. The teams were trying to shorten the season while requiring players to take the field for more doubleheaders, and were also trying to force players to accept certain collective bargaining agreement conditions the MLBPA had already refused. A statement by the union added, “Although Player salaries would not be initially prorated to a 154-game regular season, MLB’s proposal offers no salary or service time protections in the event of further delays, interruptions, or cancellation of the season. The MLBPA Executive Board and Player leadership reviewed and discussed the owners’ proposal throughout the weekend and today. The clear-cut result of these deliberations is that Players will not accept MLB’s proposal, will instead continue preparations for an on-time start to the 2021 season, and will accept MLB’s commitment to again direct its Clubs to prepare for an on-time start.”

MLB team owners were reluctant to agree to the layout and tried to present a counterproposal, which was also rejected. As a result, the league has resigned itself to the fact that the players won this round (another victory for players), and said in an announcement, “In light of the MLBPA’s rejection of our proposal, and their refusal to counter our revised offer this afternoon, we are moving forward and instructing our Clubs to report for an on-time start to Spring Training and the Championship Season, subject to reaching an agreement on health and safety protocols.”

Latino Players Have Their Say In New La Vida Baseball Show, Mas Que Un Juego

Edgar Martinez (credit: Kuyabribri)

La Vida Baseball, the nation’s leading multi-language Latino baseball lifestyle media company, is gearing up to launch its newest show Mas Que Un Juego, on Thursday, January 7, 2021 via La Vida Baseball’s (@lavidabaseball) social media platforms. The new show celebrates the Latino experience through unfiltered conversations with some of the biggest names in baseball including current and former Latino MLB players. This announcement is the first of several new content initiatives and distribution partnerships planned for 2021.

“As Latinos, it is important that we continue to shape our own narrative. Opportunities like Mas Que Un Juego help us do that,” says Luis Tiant, former Boston Red Sox pitcher.

The first captivating episode features a candid and compelling conversation on culture and identity with Hall of Famer Edgar Martinez, Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero and former MLB great, pitcher Luis Tiant.

Mas Que Un Juego is an opportunity for fans to hear the most revered figures in sports openly talk about their experiences and stories. The half-hour long episode features authentic and passionate discussions about the game of baseball and the issues that are important to Latinos and their communities. Listeners are granted unprecedented access as these players share intimate stories about their lives outside of baseball and what it means to be Latino in professional sports in the United States.

“La Vida Baseball is launching Mas Que Un Juego to reflect a time when we’re celebrating all things Latinx and taking a hard look at the lack of inclusion in the United States,” says Jesse Menendez, La Vida Baseball Managing Director. “It’s important to continuously engage the growing Latino audience in authentic ways by sharing our stories and journey – from how we arrived in the U.S., to how our upbringing in our país has shaped who we are, uplifting stories about our beloved communities and hearing how the struggles of being Latinx and immigrants applies to all of us, including pro athletes.”

La Vida Baseball host and producer Jennifer Mercedes (@LaChicaDeportes) is at the helm of this roundtable discussion. Mas Que Un Juego will air on La Vida Baseball’s (@lavidabaseball) social media platforms and LaVidaBaseball.com. The series will run throughout 2021.

For more information about La Vida Baseball and Mas Que Un Juego, please visit lavidabaseball.com.

Diamond Anniversary For Strat-O-Matic As Sports Simulation Leader Celebrates 60th

Now sixty years after Hal Richman launched the first set of Strat-O-Matic (www.strat-o-matic.com) baseball cards, the market leader in sports simulation is set to celebrate its Diamond Anniversary (how appropriate!) with a full lineup of new items, including upgraded seasons, updated popular series including Hall of Fame and Negro League sets, and branded 60th Anniversary merchandise that longtime fans and newcomers alike will enjoy.

Strat-O-Matic, which has become legendary in the gaming industry and in sports, particularly in baseball, since Richman launched that initial set in 1961, will be upgrading the 1972 and 1956 seasons, two hugely popular years based on fan feedback, to Super Advanced status, for board and digital game play, as a highlight of new products for 2021.

The company is coming off a landmark year, which saw baseball board and Windows platform sales, game product sales, Baseball 365 sales and membership all saw steep increases. The 2020 Strat-O-Matic daily baseball season simulation also brought the company unprecedented attention from popular sports and entertainment personalities and media outlets. Basketball, football and hockey board, Windows, and 365 products also saw increases in sales and interest.

“It is hard to believe that it has been 60 years since we launched our first set of baseball cards,” said Richman, Strat-O-Matic founder. “This year’s offerings will be exciting for our fans, and I’m particularly pleased to be upgrading our first-ever ‘classic’ season of 1956, as it holds a special place for me.”

In addition to the classic baseball seasons, Strat-O-Matic will introduce numerous new products to commemorate the occasion. The popular Heroes series returns for a third edition, along with the 2021 Career Historical Update, Hall of Fame 2021 for Windows and three new Negro League seasons for Windows (1918, 1928 and 1943). 

And Strat-O-Matic enthusiasts can show their fandom even more and help celebrate the anniversary with hats, t-shirts bearing the new 60th logo and the classic red game box, available in limited quantities.

Pre-orders for these products, as well as the 60-game and imagined full 2020 season sets, will begin on January 26. The Strat-O-Matic Headquarters will be closed to the public, and while pick up will be available “curbside” beginning on March 5, the company strongly encourages ordering via the strat-o-matic.com website for delivery this year.

“While it’s disappointing to not have our annual Opening Day activities that thousands have enjoyed as tradition for years,” added Richman, “we hope that making available the new seasons and products that so many have been requesting will renew everyone’s excitement for the new year as they help us celebrate.”