August 13, 2009

Looks like Upper Deck is fighting back

Upper Deck had its own announcement today that it won the exclusive agreement with Collegiate Licensing Company.

According to the Facebook note (that's where I read the news), these cards feature former student athletes in their college uniform. Initially, I think this will effect football cards more than baseball cards.

There aren't as many baseball players passing through college. So many of them get drafted out of high school. It seems as though football products such as Press Pass will be greatly effected. I don't college football cards and hope that someone out who does can chime in on this. I would like to hear more about what this is going to do.

Upper Deck says it go beyond just football and basketball and include other sports such as baseball, lacrosse, swimming and women's basketball. (It all sounds so thrilling), as well as feature mascots, stadiums and other institutions.

“Many of the best athletes in the world were leaders in college sports, and fans of those colleges passionately support their former players,” said Richard P. McWilliam, Upper Deck’s founder and CEO in a press release. “Upper Deck shares that commitment to the college market, and we plan to put the marketing resources in place to support both our trading card program and the college sports market overall.”


  1. wow! pulling a topps magic for baseball. Its kinda ironic that this happened, just a few days ago I put up a post on our blog with how upper deck might do their baseball product in 2010 and this was one of my suggestions.

  2. Sooz,

    I haven't looked at the data (nor really thought of it before) that "There aren't as many baseball players passing through college."

    I would tend to think that more of the players are passing through college.

    Now, you didn't say what time frame you were using. I'll assume that it is the last decade.

    Interesting that the effective date for the Upper Deck agreement is April 1, 2010.

  3. I think you alluded to this in the post:


  4. From Upper Deck's announcement:

    "Collegiate trading cards, which feature former student-athletes in their collegiate uniforms, have been interspersed into professional trading card sets or distributed as standalone sets since 1996."

    I think that the researchers might want to check their facts. Collegiate Collections issued several different college and university sets (Notre Dame, Clemson, Georgia Tech, UCLS, ASU and several more schools) in 1989.

    Kelloggs, in 1992, issued an 18 card set of College Basketball Greats.

    I'm sure that there are others.

    Now, if you parse Upper Decks' sentence that they are taking fresh photos of athletes in their old college uniforms, then they might be correct.

    But I don't know that I'd want to see some 60 year old player trying to squeeze into his uniform, all girdled up.

  5. Gah... I'm back.

    I took a look at the top 25 picks in the MLB Amateur Draft for each of the last 10 years. This was done quickly, at work, so the results might be off by a bit.

    My study shows that 139 of the draftees attended college. 108 were drafted from High School. 3 of them, I couldn't quickly tell.

    That breaks down to:

    56 % of them passed through college.

    43 % of them passed through HS.

    1 % of them, well, I don't know.

    In only three of the years did the HSers outnumber the Collegers. (2007, 2002, 2000). One year was a tie (2006: 12-12-1)

    So, I don't know that, based on these figures, that "there aren't as many baseball players passing through college."

    My guess is that baseball players weren't plucked from colleges until the 1960's or later. But that was tempered with many Caribbean / Latino players who (and I'm painting with a dangerously broad brush) were coming into the game that didn't receive much collegiate level schooling.

    Yes, I will admit that this is a small sampling, both for individual years and for the decade.

    Some SABR kid has probably already run all of these numbers and is on his way to publishing this as his Master's thesis.

  6. Naturally where this matters most is in football and basketball. It means that Panini wouldn't be able to show college logos on their draft NBA cards. They'll just have to continue the practice of having otherwise useless "rookie premiere" events, if just to get the newly drafted players in shots wearing pro unis.

    For the NFL, this does seem to more deeply affect Sage and Press Pass, and to a lesser extent Topps, with Magic recently and heritage products like '05 Topps All American.

    However, there's not much stopping them from launching a logo-free product. It's also not like the NCAA has been tough with enforcement. Razor continues to put out product with clearly identifiable logos without a license to be found. However, if they are indeed a back-pocket friend of UD as rumored, then it probably doesn't matter that much for them either. Business as usual, especially for baseball. There just isn't as much rabid activity around college baseball as there is for football and basketball.

  7. Mark, I think Sooz was comparing baseball to the NFL and NBA, which both require athletes to have graduated high school three years and one year, respectively, before they enter the draft. Baseball has no such requirement, largely because of the existence of the minor leagues. Thus, her statement that "There aren't as many baseball players passing through college" is correct.

  8. That's still a signficant number of players that haven't gone through college. That also includes foreign players not picked up through the first-year draft.

    Let's look at the Yankees current roster and guys such as Jeter, Pettitte, Rivera, ARod, and Cano never went to college.

    You're going to have 80 cards of Joba Chamberlain.

  9. You mean no mire women's bb cards, swimming or lacrozzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    wha? Who? Night owl is wise. Nothing more to see here. Good question, but this affects my collection on the order if zero.