June 16, 2009, marked an important date in Upper Deck’s 20-year history. It celebrated the online virtual world debut of company baseball spokesman and current New York Yankees captain Derek Jeter at www.UpperDeckU.com, the sports card company’s recently unveiled virtual world for kids.
The perennial All-Star shortstop’s in-game appearance at UpperDeckU.com lasted 50 minutes via five 10-minute chat sessions and was held between 2-3 p.m. at the NYY Steak Restaurant at the new Yankee Stadium.
“This is unbelievable,” said Jeter as he surveyed the 52-inch plasma screen in front of him, which reflected the UpperDeckU.com virtual world complete with questions popping up from more than 350 kids who secured time slots to connect with him. “This is very cool. I can’t believe there are that many kids out there who care about what I eat for lunch or whether or not I own any pets.”
Those were just two of the hundreds of questions that came fast and furiously to Jeter’s attention as he sat alongside Upper Deck staffers Carrie Peterson and Christine Lee, who worked feverishly as keyboard typists, providing answers to the kids’ questions as fast as Derek could supply them. Other questions included whether or not he “hates the Red Sox” and how he prepares himself “so that he’s not afraid of getting hit by a pitch.”
Peterson, Upper Deck’s associate marketing manager, served as “Club Commissioner” for each session, and had her own avatar deployed alongside Jeter’s custom-built avatar during the virtual world experience.
“Derek was energetic and enthralled with the entire process and amazed that he was able to chat with all these kids at one time,” she said. To see actual video footage from Jeter’s online session, click here.
In order to meet Jeter live online, kids had to first be an UpperDeckU “insider.” To do so, they had to log in to www.UpperDeckU.com and enter codes found inside wrappers of select Upper Deck sports card packs. Once deemed an insider, kids just had to go to the virtual UpperDeckU Hobby Store and then buy tickets from the store owner.
After connecting with as many as 100 kids at a time during the five online sessions, Jeter signed virtual autographs on event-exclusive digital cards that were made available only to those kids who participated in the event.
UpperDeckU.com is a virtual world that was launched in February by Upper Deck to provide a fun, safe place for boys and girls to share their passion for trading cards, sports and online game play. With the purchase of specially marked packs of 2009 Upper Deck sports cards, kids can access officially licensed digital items featuring both team logos and player images from Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League. Fans can find UpperDeckU.com codes on the inside of card-pack wrappers including 2009 Upper Deck Series One Baseball, 2009 Upper Deck Series Two Baseball and Upper Deck’s 2008-09 Series Two Hockey sets. Throughout 2009, more codes will be available in select Upper Deck sports card products.