The coronavirus pandemic is scary, but it also has demonstrated how people step up in times of crisis to make a difference in their communities.
What better way to honor these heroes than with a sports card? Upper Deck and Vanderbilt University baseball coach Tim Corbin — independently of each other — have come up with programs that do just that.
Upper Deck introduced a Genuine Heroes set, while Corbin’s program is called The Hero Sharing Lineup.
On its blog, Upper Deck announced its program, which honors people who are fighting against COVID-19 in their own way. The format of the cards are similar to the Genuine Heroes insert set the California-based company has included in its Goodwin Champions product over the past few years. Those cards focus on non-sports heroes, such as police officers, firefighters, teachers and members of the military.
The latest set is targeted toward people who are doing extraordinary work to help their communities during the pandemic.
Upper Deck is asking collectors for nominations and is publicizing its heroes with the hashtag #GenuineHeroes.
Upper Deck’s first three heroes were Madison Kelly, Marie Pecora and Mary Scott Buck.
Kelly is a 12-year-old sports fan who has created more than 400 masks to share with hospital staff members, emergency medical service personnel and first responders.
Pecora has been a registered nurse since September 2013 and currently works in the emergency room at Montefiore Nyack Hospital in Nyack, New York. She’s also a card collector and a big sports fan who has her own blog, A Cardboard Problem.
Buck lives in Kentucky and has organized a group to help people find items in short supply.
“It is really awesome to be able to shine a light on their good works,” Chris Carlin, Upper Deck’s head of customer experience, said in an email.
More Genuine Heroes were announced Thursday.
The first batch of these cards are only being available digitally, Upper Deck said. If the company decides to make physical cards, all proceeds would go toward causes to end the disease of support people who are suffering from it.
Corbin’s project recognizes people in the Middle Tennessee area who are fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Using the format of a Topps baseball card, Corbin tweets a photo every day and uses the hashtag #herostartinglineup.
Corbin said an old Topps card and his wife’s imagination made his project possible.
“We’ve been trying to think of things to do to honor individuals on Twitter,” Corbin told WKRN-TV in Nashville. “When I saw the Topps card, I thought if we could merge those two, it would be a nice way of involving them in a baseball kind of way.”
Corbin said he was tremendously impressed by what the medical community has been doing in the Nashville area.
“Just watching them operate and go to work, it almost looks like a serviceman going to war and I realize how difficult of a time it is for all of us, but especially them,” Corbin told WKRN. “I don’t want to leave anyone out, so that is why I’m doing it every day.”
Michael Johnson, the first person Corbin honored, works at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Corbin doesn’t just honor the heroes. Steve Willard, who handles the public address system during Vanderbilt’s baseball games, also does an introduction for each hero on Twitter, announcing their names as if they were running onto the field and lining up on the foul lines.
— Kris Freeman (@KrisFreemanPA) April 9, 2020
Any cheers resulting from those introductions are well-deserved.