Brad Ziegler, J.J. Putz & Justin Bieber Find Common Ground in Panini America Card

June 26, 2012

Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Brad Ziegler accomplished quite a lot during his visit to Panini America HQ a few weeks ago. He toured the facility, opened some product with his father Greg for a special episode of Panini Unwrapped and inked his first autographed trading card deal.

But it’s what transpired after Ziegler’s visit that has people around the country still buzzing.

Before he left, the noted sports card collector, ever mindful of others, asked if we had any Justin Bieber cards he could give to teammate J.J. Putz, a hardcore and unabashed “Belieber.” Entertained, I gladly fetched two boxes of our 2011 Justin Bieber 2.0 cards and gave them to Ziegler as something of a parting gift.

Two days later, while busting those boxes in the Diamondbacks’ locker room, Putz struck gold by pulling a Bieber autograph. Ziegler’s subsequent Tweet of that monumental pull set the social media wheels in motion for a viral sensation that still hasn’t subsided.

Yahoo! picked the story up. So did USA Today. Other major news outlets followed suit and the story took on a life of its own. Now, the happy story will have an even happier ending for two worthwhile charities — Ziegler’s Pastime for Patriots and teammate Craig Breslow’s Strike 3 Foundation.

“Given the way I obtained this card, I think the only responsible course is to donate it to charity,” Putz said in a statement. “I have the chance to raise money and awareness for two important causes. Besides, convincing my twin girls I was better off taking them to Justin Bieber’s Believe Tour kickoff concert on Sept. 29 in Phoenix rather than keeping the card put me in the running for father of the year.”

The card, being auctioned off now through the Arizona Diamondbacks Website, has been bid up to $2,510 — and the auction doesn’t end until July 1.