A 1979 Ozzie Smith rookie – with The Wizard sporting some sick sideburns leftover from the middle of the decade and a Padres jersey that looks so retro cool – was my first introduction to baseball cards. Forgotten by my big brother, I found it a corner of his closet, tucked away from possible admiration with a mess of other cracked and creased pieces of cardboard picturing the visages of prepubescent fantasies.
My exit occurred with thousands of others like me. In the early ‘90s a teeming children’s pastime grew into an adult industry, fat with new products, bloated with frustratingly exclusive price points, and swollen beyond appeal.
But between those moments and, really, until I started caring more about girls than Ryne Sandberg (a relationship litmus test I still refer to from time to time), my dreams were made of wax packs, stale, powdery bubble gum, and baseball cards. Topps TV looks terrifying to me now, but that freakish delight at ripping open foil wrappers resonates with my 12-year-old self.
Ex-Disney CEO Michael Eisner knows my passion well and was shrewd to recognize its potential. Last March, he bought the Bazooka bubble gum and baseball card company that manufactured my nostalgia for $385 million. When the New York Times asked him why, Eisner answered:
“Topps is a brand that’s in the brain-waves of about 70 years of the American male. I can take that affinity and turn it into a sports-media company. Topps has many assets, and Bazooka has Bazooka Joe, and I could have fun making a Bazooka Joe movie.”
Now he’s starting to make moves with the acquisition. Earlier this week, plans were announced that his new media production company, Vuguru will launch a autobiographical comedy series this summer titled Back on Topps, featuring a “group of executives seeking to succeed Marvin Topps, the company’s fictional founder.” The series will star Randy and Jason Sklar of ESPN’s Cheap Seats and Super Deluxe’s Layers in 24 five-minute-episodes.
Do whatever you want with that other Mickey, Mr. Eisner, but don’t eff with America’s pastime or my childhood. Only a clever blend of obsessive insider humor and accessible wit that takes place in a “gum-scented, Willy Wonkafied dream palace” of baseball will live up to my wistful expectations. This series better be good.