Topps to release a “Pride & Perseverance” card set

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Topps just announced that they’re releasing a “Pride & Perseverance” special insert set in their latest update series, the purpose of which is to “celebrate Major League players from the past and present, who have triumphed in spite of disabilities that have come their way.”

Included in the set:

  • Cubs pitcher Jon Lester and first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who are both cancer survivors;
  • Giants pitcher Jake Peavy, who is legally blind without his corrective lenses, which I don’t think I ever knew;
  • Astros outfielder George Springer, who has overcome stuttering, also something I didn’t know;
  • Mets reliever Buddy Carlyle, and A’s outfielder Sam Fuld, each of whom have diabetes;
  • Yankees and Angels pitcher Jim Abbott, who threw a no-hitter in 1993 and had a fine overall career, despite being born without his right hand;
  • Former Phillies, Royals and Marlins outfielder Jim Eisenreich, who played 15 years in MLB after overcoming Tourette’s syndrome;
  • Former outfielders Curtis Pride and William Hoy, each of whom played despite being deaf; and
  • St. Louis Browns outfielder Pete Gray who played despite having lost an arm in a childhood accident.

In a statement issued by Topps, its VP & General Manager, David Leiner said “These men had to overcome great odds to not only make it to the Majors, but at times with what could have been a disadvantage. Instead, they are an inspiration and we are honored to showcase them in our product.”

Very nice move, Topps. They’re on sale today. Go out and get ’em.

Japanese Baseball to begin June 19

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Japanese League commissioner Atsushi Saito announced that Japan’s professional baseball season will open on June 19. Teams can being practice games on June 2. There will be no fans. Indeed, the league has not yet even begun to seriously discuss a plan for fans to begin attending games, though that may happen eventually.

The season will begin three months after its originally scheduled opening day of March 20. It will be 120 games long. Teams in each six-team league — the Central League and Pacific League — will play 24 games against each league opponent. There will be no interleague play and no all-star game.

The announcement came in the wake of a national state of emergency being lifted for both Tokyo and the island of Hokkaido. The rest of the country emerged from the state of emergency earlier this month. This will allow the Japanese leagues to follow leagues in South Korea and Taiwan which have been playing for several weeks.

In the United States, Major League Baseball is hoping to resume spring training in mid June before launching a shortened regular season in early July. That plan is contingent on the league and the players’ union coming to an agreement on both financial arrangements and safety protocols for a 2020 season. Negotiations on both are ongoing. Major League Baseball will, reportedly, make a formal proposal about player compensation tomorrow.