Modern art take on Al Kaline featured in new Topps set

Detroit News

Kaline’s Project70 card is available through Topps’ website until Sunday

Al Kaline fans have a new piece of art to add to their collections.

Mr. Tiger is the latest player to be included in Topps’ Project70 series, a set of baseball cards featuring modern artist takes on classic players and cards.

The pop art Kaline, released Friday, features a split image of No. 6 against a colorful tiled background and a series of broken bats and flying baseballs. A classic Detroit Tigers logo appears at the bottom of the card, and Kaline’s number of positioned prominently in the center of the card.

The artist behind the rendering is Jordan Nickel, a Chicago street artist who goes professionally by Pose.

“He was such a well rounded player, and he played for so long for the Tigers, I needed to show how much he did and how long he did it for, and that he was kind of good at everything,” Nickel said Friday. “That’s what all the patterns, the different portions of bats, the baseballs flying around and the different motions of his body were meant to reflect.”

There was also a bit of synergy with Kaline and Nickel’s own life: Kaline’s number was retired and he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1980, the year Nickel was born.

Nickel says he has always enjoyed visiting Detroit, so when he was commissioned to be a part of Project70, “I needed to do a Tiger.” He worked on the card for about a month and said he had four different versions of the card before finishing the Kaline card.

Nickel’s love affair with art grew from an early trip to a Cubs game when he was 10 years old, when he saw the artwork along the train line on his way to Wrigley Field.

Nickel’s Kaline’s is the 68th card and the first Tigers player to be included in the Topps Project70 set, which launched last month. Three cards are released daily and are available for purchase on Topps’ website for 70 hours after they’re released, and print runs are determined by the number of orders placed. The Kaline card is available until 10 a.m. Sunday; cards are $19.99 each.

Other artists participating in the Project 70 set include Ben Baller, Blake Jamieson, Sean Wotherspoon, Fucci, Don C, Tyson Beck and rappers Snoop Dogg and Action Bronson. Players featured so far include modern players such as Ferndando Tatis Jr., Mike Trout and Ronald Acuna Jr., as well as stars of yesteryear including Roberto Clemente, Deion Sanders, Rollie Fingers, Babe Ruth and Rickey Henderson.

The Project 70 set follows last year’s Topps Project 2020, in which 20 modern artists put their spin on 20 classic cards from the Topps archive. A Ken Griffey Jr. card by artist Keith Shore sold nearly 100,000 cards in May 2020, a high point for the series.

Kaline died in April 2020 at the age of 85.

agraham@detroitnews.com

@grahamorama

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