After 50 Cent threw an infamously horrible first pitch at Citi Field, the well-known sports card company Topps decided to honor the moment as part of a new series in the 2015 set. Never before had Topps created a series to honor first pitches, and the results were awesome. 50 Cent was joined by actor Jeff Bridges, rock star Eddie Vedder, guitarist Tom Morello and several others.
Of course, like his notoriously awful pitch, 50 Cent's card stole the show. The back of the card started off with a solid pun -- "When it comes to memorable ceremonial first pitches, 50 Cent is certainly 'In Da Club' -- and recapped the pitch that "nearly hit a photographer." The front showed the rapper in action.
The 2016 set featured more First Pitch cards, including those of golfer Jordan Spieth, basketball player Kristaps Porzingis, Boston Marathon bombing survivor Rebekah Gregory, and several more. The cards are fun, they're unexpected and they were certainly popular among the fans.
Thus, when Topps Now released a card featuring Dr. Anthony Fauci tossing out his memorable first pitch to open the 2020 MLB season (at a $9.99 price), it should come as no surprise that there were a lot of interested fans. But just how many fans is staggering.
The premise of Topps Now is that cards representing notable events are created immediately after those events occur. The catch is that those cards are only available for purchase for 24 hours after their release, and so you have to be quick if you want to get your hands on these cards.
Apparently, 51,512 people were ready in that 24-hour span. That means that nearly 36 cards were being purchased every minute after release. As Rovell mentioned, Guerrero Jr.'s card held the previous record, trailed by two Shohei Ohtani cards, an Aaron Judge card and Bryce Harper's first Phillies card. The Topps Now archive details these sales statistics.
The copy editors of this card were not as harsh as those who created the 50 Cent card, though, neglecting to mention that Fauci's pitch was nowhere close to where Sean Doolittle was set up. Instead, it reads as follows:
Dr. Anthony Fauci, longtime Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and ardent Washington Nationals fan, signaled the official start of the 2020 MLB regular season by throwing out the first pitch before the Nationals took on the Yankees on Thursday evening. The 79-year-old Brooklyn native, donning a Nationals jersey, hat and facemask, fired a strong effort to the plate before the Nationals took the field.
Before we go any further, let's compare the two pitches.
Fauci commented on the pitch in an interview with RADIO.COM affiliate 1010 WINS.
"Oh my goodness, I bounced it," Fauci said. "The mound looked like it was 150 feet away from the plate. It looks much further when you’re up there, that’s for sure."
It's nearly impossible to be critical of the 79-year-old's slightly underwhelming pitch, especially when he's got a few other things on his mind.
Major League Baseball now has to deal with Fauci's area of expertise, perhaps more than ever before. With a new explosion of COVID-19 cases affecting the Marlins' roster, both the Marlins-Orioles series and the Phillies-Yankees opening game have been called off, leaving the MLB season to hang in the balance.