It’s been quite a ride for Kris Bryant over the last several months. National League MVP. Bringing a World Series to Chicago Cubs fans for the first time since automobiles were a new thing. Getting married.
Being on the front of every package of Topps baseball cards right now is probably among the highlights, too, especially considering he signed an exclusive, seven-figure deal that will probably cover whatever furnishings are necessary inside his Las Vegas home.
Bryant will head to spring training in a couple of weeks as the Cubs try to recapture the 2016 magic but on Wednesday he was participating remotely in a 2017 Series 1 launch party on MLB Network. He also spent time on a very brief conference call with those who write about the hobby.
While he didn’t collect cards as a kid, he’s been signing them since he was a teenage member of Team USA—thousands per year. He said he appreciates the work that’s gone into chronicling his young career on cardboard.
“Every card I get, I say ‘I want to keep this one’ but I never do,” he said. “Some of these cards are so cool with the color and everything.”
Bryant is easily one of the game’s most recognizable young players; fan friendly, easy-going and good humored. Fans and collectors voted that he should be card #1 inside the 2017 set. When Topps recently offered a meet and greet opportunity with those who purchased its $22,000 Transcendent product, they brought the party to him. Bryant posed for photos, signed autographs and chatted with a few dozen guests.
“There wasn’t a huge crowd of people so I got to talk to each and every one of them and hear their stories about collecting,” he recalled. “I get to play a game for a living and these people are just fans of ours, fans of baseball.”
He’s paid handsomely to sign autographs not only for Topps but for Fanatics, as well. The company markets a line of signed baseballs, bats, photos, jerseys and other items and has hosted the 24-year-old third baseman at its Chicago card shows. That doesn’t mean he won’t sign for free at Wrigley Field if you’re able to catch him.
“It’s not too demanding for me. I’m kind of used to it. I try to take time for the fans before each game and sign autographs. Winning the World Series and having the year that we did, it comes with the territory and I wouldn’t have it any other way, honestly.”