Fanatics couldn’t have handled the Randy Arozarena and Austin Meadows dual autograph controversy any better.
The first year of Topps under Fanatics’ control has already sparked controversy in the hobby, putting Fanatics to the test right away.
Topps Definitive Baseball, a high-end MLB trading card product that retails for around $2,000 per box, has a dual-autograph card featuring Austin Meadows and Randy Arozarena that is believed to be forged. Fanatics and Topps acknowledged this card as such through a press release in early July.
Topps and Fanatics are making the situation right by offering compensation for any hobbyist who has this card in the form of a 2022 Topps Definite Baseball Box AND a replacement card, or a card of equal value. If the Meadows/Arozarena dual auto was a legit card, it would have a value of a couple hundred dollars, which means Fanatics is more than fairly compensating those who have this card.
Set the Bar High
Fanatics wants to build trust in the hobby where over the last two years collectors feel they have been exploited and burned by trading card manufacturers. The trading card boom that was fueled by the pandemic led to higher wax prices, overvalued base cards, customer service ignoring collectors, unfulfilled autograph redemptions, and a huge increase in production with a lack of quality control. With the announcement of Fanatics’ impending takeover of NFL and NBA cards in 2026, confidence for the hobby collectively shrunk.
This isn’t the first time trading card companies have had an autograph controversy, but this is the first publicly addressed issue since Fanatics acquired Topps. One notable previous autograph controversy involved Dak Prescott using an autopen to sign cards. In that case, Panini rightfully offered replacements for those cards. In this instance, Fanatics is giving $2,000+ for a card that would be a couple hundred at most. It gives the impression that they will not only acknowledge their mistakes, but also make them right.
What About the Next Controversy?
With social media being more prevalent in the hobby, word gets around fast and Fanatics will have to react quickly. For Fanatics to be new in the trading card space and react as it did, that sets the tone for any future incident. If another autograph controversy comes about, the hobby will be quick to remember this situation and have this expectation.
Not only that, but it shows that Fanatics will be responsive to customer concerns. Panini has had quality control issues trying to keep up with demand issues ranging from a lack of autograph stickers to severely off-centered cards. That’s on top of the long wait list of autograph redemptions waiting to be fulfilled. In a time where the sports trading card market has course-corrected from its 2020 boom, Fanatics is setting the tone by showing they care about hobbyists with more-than-adequate compensation for their mistakes.