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MLB predictably enters NFT field

Major League BaseballBoy, talk about a potpourri of trends: Combining sports, e-commerce, technology, collectibles and cryptocurrency, MLB is making an inevitable entrance in the NFT (non-fungible token) field with some high-profile partners.

Technically, Candy Digital is the player in the space, with MLB acting as the content partner with the participation of three other high-profile partners: Michael Rubin, Executive Chairman, Fanatics; Mike Novogratz, founder and CEO, Galaxy Digital; and Gary Vaynerchuk, ad hustler and New York Jets owner wannabe.

We will present with no content the description of the partnership from the MLB press release:

Leveraging deep experience in sports, e-commerce, fintech, blockchain, pop culture and digital media, the founders and their respective companies have positioned Candy to enter the digital asset marketplace with significant resources, skills, and capabilities. Fanatics, a global leader for licensed sports merchandise and memorabilia, will introduce its 80-plus million consumers to a new way of enjoying their favorite teams, players and sports moments. Galaxy Digital will provide its incredible knowledge of the digital asset, cryptocurrency and blockchain technology space, and Gary Vaynerchuk will lend his preeminent digital, social media and collectibles experience to the company. Fanatics will be the majority owner of Candy Digital.

Really, no trend is left uncovered. What’s going on here, on a basic level: another run at digital collectibles. MLB had already announced another NFT effort with The Topps Company with the release of the 2021 Topps Series 1 Baseball NFT. Topps has been pushing digital collectibles since 2012, and it’s hard to say whether the effort has truly taken root.

The new effort with Candy Digital is the same. While the Topps effort is basically a jazzed-up version of a sports card–instead owning a card on your own, you can own an unspecified abstract “share” of a card along with a whole slew of other people–the Candy Digital effort draws on other digital IP controlled by MLB. In this case, the first offering is an NFT of Lou Gehrig’s famous “Luckiest Man” speech that he delivered on July 4, 1939, after being diagnosed with ALS. This NFT will commemorate the league’s first official Lou Gehrig Day taking place today to raise awareness and funds to fight ALS, which is also called Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Proceeds from the sale of the NFT, which is scheduled to be released July 4th weekend, will support ALS charities. No, we’re not entirely sure exactly what you’ll own with this NFT–the record of the speech? a digital copy of the film of the speech?–but it sounds good that you’ll “own: a share of one of baseball’s most iconic and honest pieces of history.

“From trading cards to autographed balls, baseball fans have demonstrated their passion for the sport and its players through collectibles for decades,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement announcing the new NFT partnership. “In working with Candy Digital to offer NFTs to MLB fans, we’re delivering an exciting new addition to the robust baseball collectible market. The founders of Candy are a dynamic group of executives with an impressive track record. We’re excited to be the first partner in this new venture with a team uniquely positioned for success.”

Here’s the best explainer we’ve seen about NFTs:

RELATED STORIES: American Association NFTs on tap

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