Our 5 favorite 'Project 2020' Topps baseball cards include Tony Gwynn, Mike Trout

Sporting News

The "Project 2020" collection from Topps has been polarizing because of the creative liberties it takes in recreating historic baseball cards.

Throughout the year, famous artists are releasing versions of iconic cards in their own creative styles. Like any work, but especially one related to a timeless hobby such as card collecting, there are wide-ranging viewpoints on the success of the enterprise.

We thought a rendition of Bob Gibson's 1959 card was terrible, but some people see it as one of their favorites of the bunch due to its unconventional approach.

Scroll to continue with content
Ad

Our below list of favorite "Project 2020" cards released so far, then, will likely result in further disagreement. That's OK. Passionate exchanges about these works is the whole point of the business.

MORE: What in the world happened with this Bob Gibson card?

Here's what we've enjoyed the most (in no particular order):

1980 Rickey Henderson, Card No. 21 (Matt Taylor)

What better representation of the eccentric figure Rickey Henderson maintained than Matt Taylor's eye-popping print?

It's awesome when baseball cards provide a deep look at what a time period or player was like for those who didn't watch him. Cards from the early 1900s are so cool largely for that reason; they're a portal to a different era in American life.

You could whip out this work in 2050 when someone asks to describe what Henderson was like and get across the message just fine: Flashy, exuberant, full of life.

rickey-henderson-project-2020-matt-taylor
rickey-henderson-project-2020-matt-taylor

1952 Willie Mays, Card No. 15 (Andrew Thiele)

It's impressive how much complexity Thiele fits into a single baseball card without making it feel too crowded. It could work as a painting too, which is a testament to what he's done with the colors and textures around the main image of Mays.

willie-mays-project-2020-topps
willie-mays-project-2020-topps

1980 Rickey Henderson, Card No. 57 (Blake Jamieson)

This take on Henderson's 1980 card pops in a different way from Taylor's creation, replacing the funk of No. 21 with an explosion of green and yellow.

It strikes a nice balance between being an attention-grabbing work and something subtle and warm enough not to overpower the eyes.

rickey-henderson-project-2020-topps
rickey-henderson-project-2020-topps

1983 Tony Gwynn, Card No. 40 (Naturel)

There's something quite magical about this card and the way it transforms the background beyond Gwynn into what could be any baseball park in the world. An entire series of action shot baseball cards with this concept would be fun.

Using shapes instead of letters is also an interesting touch by the artist.

tony-gwynn-project-2020-topps
tony-gwynn-project-2020-topps

2011 Mike Trout, Card No. 4 (Ermsy)

Here's a psychedelic trip of a card from Ermsy based on this generation's best player.

We imagine this is the version of Trout pitchers see in their nightmares, his haunting cutout eyes and monstrous bat speed enough to cause a cold sweat.

Mike-Trout-project-2020-topps
Mike-Trout-project-2020-topps

What to read next