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Hobby Chatz: Fanatics & MLS get a win

It’s not been the best month for Fanatics’ Public Relations department. The company has been dealing with heaps of necessary criticism after the release of their 2024 Major League Baseball jerseys but they managed to sneak in a small win amidst the MLB-based chaos. 

Fanatics and Major League Soccer announced a new program for the 2024 season for players making their debuts before April 1st (obligatory reminder that this isn’t an elaborate prank). The debutants’ “Debut”’ patch will be removed post-match by the club’s equipment manager so they may be used for this season’s Topps MLS trading cards. Any “newcomer or homegrown player on the rise” that makes their debut by April 1st will be in a 2024 product while anyone who debuts after that will have their patch featured in a 2025 product, per Topps.

While there was a lot of PR jargon that didn’t float my boat in the announcement, I love the idea behind this as a way to increase the value of Topps’ MLS trading card boxes. In the short-term, think of the market for Inter Miami-newcomer and Uruguayan biter Luis Suárez’s debut patch card – especially if it’s a patch-autograph. That product is a unique, innovative way for Topps to engage a rather stagnant MLS collectibles with an influx of Suárez superfans. It’s also a great way for Topps to ensure its products don’t drop below the initial prices among retailers after a week like the two 2023 MLS trading card boxes did.

This product innovation should be used in other sports down the line as we have already seen an increase in advertisements on jerseys in American sports in recent years. MLS has the chance to lead in one part of American sports with this move.

Also, this soccer journalist would like to remind people to not come to matches expecting to leave with a player’s jersey. When you ask a player, you put them in an unfair spot when you ask for a jersey as they often get charged when they give away a match jersey. The “Debut” patch is a nice reminder that a fan is entitled to experience the game in the stadium when they purchase a ticket. It’s not a time to ask player’s for memorabilia you can purchase online.


I can’t compliment Fanatics and Major League Soccer without providing a proper, timely criticism as well. 

It’s come to my attention that many players who were featured in 2023 products weren’t sent any of their cards and instead some received images that they could post on social media to promote the Topps product. Many players, especially those who were only featured in Topps Now products, had no clue that there had been cards made of them.

This seems like an easy fix for Fanatics. Send each player a base team set of each MLS product so they can share it on social media. You may even turn a player into a collector in the process. 


Anywho, onto a brief Chicago-centric thought that arose while writing about the “Debut” patches.

Marquee Network, the TV home for the Chicago Cubs, just poached producer and card collector Christopher Kamka from the White Sox’s television partner ahead of the 2024 MLB season, according to Jeff Agrest of the Chicago Sun-Times. Marquee needs to give Kamka a trading card and collectibles show as soon as possible. It will work


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