By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor
Japanese pitching star Yu Darvish will only have his autographs found in Topps products as the lone exclusive licensee of Major League Baseball cards signed him to an exclusive autograph deal that was announced on Monday.
His first autograph will arrive in 2012 Topps Tribute, which arrives later this week. Those cards will be redemptions and limited to just 25 copies as part of the exclusive deal covering autograph, memorabilia, insert and base cards.
Darvish also will have limited-run autograph cards appearing in 2012 Topps Museum Collection (limited to 30 cards; arriving April 4) and Gypsy Queen (25 cards, April 18) before making a heavier arrival in 2012 Bowman on May 9.
There, the Texas Rangers pitcher will have his first autographed Rookie Card — a card much less limited than those in the other products — before collectors can find his cards in the remainder of the products on the schedule. Topps said that Darvish will have cards in the forthcoming Topps Archives (May 23), Series 2 (June 6), Tier One (June 20), Allen & Ginter (July 11), Bowman Platinum (July 25) and Topps Chrome (Aug. 22) sets.
Darvish, who will appear on the cover of the April issue of Beckett Baseball, is just 25 years old and went 18-6 last season for the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters of Nippon Professional Baseball before signing a $60 million deal with the Rangers.
In the last five seasons, Darvish compiled a 76-28 record with a 1.72 ERA, striking out 1,083 batters in 1,024-plus innings. His worst season had hin going 12-8 with a 1.78 ERA. He struck out 200 or more batters four times in his career (approximately 25-28 starts a year) and had 10 complete games in four seasons.
Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball magazine. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an email to him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.