Topps on the Daily News back cover …


   Thirty years ago when I was the public relations coordinator for the Empire State Games in New York, one of our great goals was the snag the back cover photo and blurb of the New York Daily News. I can’t remember if we ever pulled it off; the only hope would have been during one of the four days of the actual competition in the summer in Syracuse or Buffalo, maybe with somebody like Chris Mullin or Pearl Washington, some of the big names that used to dot our New York City Scholastic squads from time to time.
   Anyway, I mention this because our friends at Topps have managed this public relations coup in a big way this morning, with a full-page photo of the Yankees’ struggling first baseman, Mark Teixeira, grimacing at the plate and proclaiming in an adjacent blurb (sans quotation marks) “I’m still Topps, just look at my baseball card.”

   I don’t know how many non-collectors will drop their newspapers, spit out their Fruit Loops and run out the door to buy a pack of Topps cards at the local 7-11, but the publicity had to make the guys at Topps beam a bit. They’ve been almost as hot at the (printing) plate as Tex has been cool, and this is likely just one more welcome event perhaps chalked up to the nimble Clay Luraschi, the company’s director of product development.
   Inside was a Daily News article entitled, “What is wrong with Mark Teixeira?” And the slugger insisted – defensively, since he is a defensive whiz, after all – that nothing at all was wrong with him.
   The tone of the whole article was reminiscent of so many previous ones where the hyper-vigilant New York press corps badgers a ballplayer silly as he wrestles through the normal ups and downs of a major league hitter. I’m not press bashing, just noting that there’s no more challenging place in the country for an MLB player than performing on the greatest stage, which I concede is Yankee Stadium. And it’s pretty tough for my Mets guys, too. Just ask Dwight and Darryl.
   But back to Tex. “I’ve been through plenty of ups and downs in my career and the back of my baseball card says it all,” said Teixeira. “I’m amazed sometimes when I look at it, because it’s not an easy game.”
   From that nugget did an enterprising editor spin the back-cover blub that likely has the Topps guys doing high-fives on Whitehall Street.
   What are the chances that next year some time – or maybe even sooner – that Daily News back cover might find itself the subject of its very own baseball card? Stranger things have happened.

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