Topps Spot: A week-long card-signing event in Scottsdale mansion draws Cactus League players

Players take a break from signings to enjoy the luxurious amenities at the Topps Spot, including the “Chrome Throne” and a variety of refreshments. (Photo by Joe Eigo/Cronkite News)

SCOTTSDALE – With a backyard that includes a pool, baseball-themed putt-putt golf, the “Chrome Throne” and complimentary haircuts, who would turn down a visit to the Topps Spot?

It was an offer that more than 160 current and former baseball players simply could not refuse.

At a rented 10,000 square-foot, three-story mansion in Scottsdale – dubbed the “Topps Spot” – Cactus League ballplayers are able to escape the craziness of spring training and sign their own baseball trading cards for numerous Topps Series packs.

The premise of the Topps Spot is for players to enjoy a relaxing environment to sign their cards, which will be distributed later in these packs. While the players are there to sign, they can enjoy the amenities that Topps Spot has to offer, all while reconnecting with old friends or meeting players from other teams.

MLB Hall Of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. engages ESPN commentator Tim Kurkjian between taking photos at the Topps Spot. (Photo by Joe Eigo/Cronkite News)

MLB Hall Of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. engages ESPN commentator Tim Kurkjian between taking photos at the Topps Spot. (Photo by Joe Eigo/Cronkite News)

​​”Just getting here and seeing a bunch of buddies of mine that I’ve played against and also meeting some new guys as well, the experience is awesome,” said Kansas City Royals shortstop Nick Loftin. “Topps did a great job of setting this all up … just the amount of time it took to prepare for all this and get it all together is awesome.”

Over the last week, the Topps House welcomed a plethora of players, from major league veterans to up-and-coming prospects, and provided them complimentary food, drinks and haircuts.

A shiny chrome baseball glove called the “Chrome Throne” sits among the food stations and provides a place for players and their families to pose for photos. Other “Topps Spott” amenities include a gym, a movie theater, spa, a soaking tub and a steam room.

Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. arrived in style last Monday, pulling up in his purple BMW that matched his purple hair. On Wednesday, Seattle Mariners legend and MLB Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. was on hand, interacting with players and using his photography skills to capture photos.

“I got to talk with (Griffey) a little bit, just hear what he talks about, about the game of baseball and also just about golf and life in general, just get to experience the time with a legend,” Loftin said. “There’s nothing like it.”

Players were in awe of the layout of the mansion, which includes a balcony overlooking the backyard pool area and numerous rooms filled with poster-sized baseball cards – including some that feature the players in attendance. And there is a secret underground speakeasy that provides a place for players to relax with their families and friends.

From Diamondbacks shortstop Jordan Lawler to San Francisco Giants pitcher Kyle Harrison, numerous prospects made an appearance. Three Milwaukee Brewers prospects, third baseman Luke Adams, outfielder Luis Lara and 2023 sixth-round draft pick Cooper Pratt, got a kick out of the whole experience.

Topps Spot sets up a variety of activities for MLB players to participate in, including a putting green designed like a baseball field. (Photo by Joe Eigo/Cronkite News)

Topps Spot sets up a variety of activities for MLB players to participate in, including a putting green designed like a baseball field. (Photo by Joe Eigo/Cronkite News)

But the balcony overlooking the pool stood out from the rest.

“I like the view up top,” Adams said. “You can see the barbershop, the food here. This place, it’s really cool.”

Topps first organized this vibrant atmosphere last spring. Prior to the Topps Spot, card signings were typically held in small, lifeless hotel rooms. Players would sign their cards quickly and leave. There was barely even an incentive to go.

Now, given the amenities and inclusive atmosphere, Topps aims for the popularity of the event to spread by word of mouth, hopefully attracting more players than expected.

“Basically, we don’t want to say no to anybody,” said Kevin Eger, the senior director of talent licensing and authentics for Fanatics, which owns Topps. “If players want to come through and hang out with us and sign cards, by all means, yes. You could come through and we’ll have a seat for you at a table.

“We really kind of just wanted to leverage the opportunity, getting these guys to sign their cards. We wanted to just make it a seamless experience.”

Related story

While major league veterans occasionally visited the Topps Spot last week, the event primarily showcases top prospects and rookies for its Topps Chrome Baseball packs. For many rookies, it’s the first time they’ve signed their own baseball cards, a special moment in their young careers.

“I think that’s something that you dream of also as a kid,” Loftin said. “Just making it to the big leagues, but also getting that deal with Topps to be able to have my own rookie card – being able to see yourself on something that I’ve collected for many years (and) now seeing myself in hobby boxes that I’ve been ripping open since I was a kid is awesome.

“It’s been a humbling experience, and I’m very grateful for it.”

As spring training games ramp up, players become busier and the grind becomes intense. Topps provided a week-long respite for these players, and the longtime trading card company plans to continue arranging this event in the future.

A Topps Spot addition in Florida for the 15 Grapefruit League teams is also in the works.

“I think it would be cool for sure, and it’s something that I think we’ll continue to evaluate,” Eger said of a potential Topps Spot in Florida. “Because everything’s so spread out, it’s kind of hard to execute. But it’s definitely on the table.”

Aaron Schmidt EH-run shmit
Sports Reporter, Phoenix

Aaron Schmidt expects to graduate in spring 2024 with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism and a minor in film and media production. In addition to the Phoenix Sports Bureau, Schmidt reports for The Arizona Republic and The State Press. He has also interned with Arizona’s Family and Arizona Sports 98.7.

Joe Eigo joe EYE-go (he/him)
Sports Visual Journalist, Phoenix

Joe Eigo expects to graduate in May 2024 with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism. Eigo is in his third semester at Cronkite News. He has previously worked with Inferno Intel, WCSN, The State Press and The Racing Experts.