From The New York Times:
This baseball season, one of the game’s most beloved and bygone traditions will try for a comeback: the baseball card.
For men (and some women) of a certain age, baseball cards evoke childhood memories of stuffed shoeboxes stored beneath the bed and the flutter of cards clipped to bicycle wheels. But today, as Angry Birds and iPads beckon, the baseball card has fallen out of favor with children.
Now the Topps Company, the leading baseball card manufacturer, is trying to breathe digital life into a once-cherished hobby. On Thursday, Major League Baseball’s opening day, Topps, the 74-year-old company in a business with roots in the tobacco cards of the 1800s, introduced two apps intended to appeal to a more techcentric youth market.
The apps are Topps Pennant, a data-based platform for statistics fans, and Topps Bunt, an interactive game with many of the characteristics of fantasy leagues. Currently, the apps are available only for iPads and iPhones, but they will eventually be introduced for Android phones and tablets, the company said.
They represent important pieces of a larger strategy intended to slowly expand the fading baseball card business into a broader media company complete with digital offerings, and potentially shows, movies and clothing lines.
Behind the strategy is Michael D. Eisner, the former longtime head of the Walt Disney Company, whose private equity firm bought Topps for $385.4 million in 2007. Never a card collector himself, Mr. Eisner said he had initially scoffed at buying Topps, which he described as being in “a postboom era in a rust belt industry.”
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