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Sunday, June 3, 2012
Topps will make one fan a minor leaguer

By Chris Olds
Special to ESPN.com

If you've ever wanted to take the field as a professional baseball player, here's your chance.

You just need to find a one-of-a-kind prize card in an upcoming Topps baseball set.

Hooks card
The lucky buyer of this card will get a one-day contract with the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks.
When 2012 Topps Heritage Minor League arrives in September, it will include a Make Your Pro Debut card in one of the thousands of packs released. The owner of that card will suit up for the Corpus Christi Hooks, the Double-A affiliate of the Houston Astros, for one day next season and appear on a 2013 Topps minor league baseball card.

"The idea was generated in a brainstorm with our minor league baseball partners here in New York," said Topps VP Mark Sapir. "We really want to add value to our products overall and provide experiences beyond just getting great cards."

The winner will spend time with team owner Nolan Ryan and be grilled by the media at a news conference after signing the one-day deal. The winner also will get a locker in the Hooks clubhouse (or an adjacent area if the winner is female), a full uniform and game equipment as well as take part in pregame workouts at Whataburger Field, take batting practice, shag fly balls, throw out the first pitch, spend time in the broadcast booth and spend time in the owner’s box as part of a day on the roster.

But what about playing time, coach?

"I don’t expect they will make it into the game," Sapir said, "but who knows where they might end up?"

Sapir said Topps might try similar projects with other products and leagues, but said the minors were a good place to start.

"MiLB is also unique, as their assets are a bit easier to unlock," he said. "It’s a bit less strict and teams and players are really open to partnering."

And how were the Hooks selected for the promotion?

"The Hooks have a good relationship with MiLB headquarters in New York City and are really open and accommodating and creative," he said. "Many teams were interested."

For more on 2012 Topps Heritage Minor League, check out the August issue of Beckett Baseball magazine.

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball magazine. Check out Beckett.com for the latest news on sports cards and memorabilia. You can follow Chris on Twitter.