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Bob D’Angelo

Bob is a longtime member of the Florida sports media, having served as a reporter and copy editor for more than 30 years. His true sports passion, however, is the history of the various games, exhibited by his in-depth book reviews and hobby of collecting cards and other sports memorabilia. He blogs for on both subjects, transferring his work for the Tampa Tribune to the realm of cyberspace.

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Collect call: 2013 Panini Golden Age baseball

Posted Jun 28, 2013 by Bob D'Angelo

Updated Jun 28, 2013 at 10:21 PM

I love sets like Panini America’s Golden Age baseball. I am a history lover and I enjoy pop and entertainment culture too, so I was very satisfied with the 2012 set.

The 2013 version provides more of the same, above and beyond baseball. Look at the diversity. There are television stars like Donna Douglas of “The Beverly Hillbillies, Bob Denver, Alan Hale Jr. (Panini did not include the “Jr.” on the card, and they should have — the Skipper’s dad, Alan Hale Sr., was a pretty fair actor in his own right) and Dawn Wells of “Gilligan’s Island,” Stanley Livingston and Barry Livingston of “My Three Sons,” Elizabeth Montgomery (“Bewitched”), Henry Winkler (“Happy Days”), John Belushi (“Saturday Night Live”) and late night talk show host Johnny Carson.

Film stars also shine in this set, with Bob Hope, Jean Harlow, Grace Kelly, Bo Derek and Eva Gabor among the subjects in the 150-card set. “Little Rascals” icons George “Spanky” McFarland and William “Buckwheat” Thomas also make an appearance.

Politicians muscle their way back into the set this year, with presidents like Abraham Lincoln, Gerald Ford, William Howard Taft, Woodrow Wilson, Herbert Hoover and Lyndon B. Johnson included.

Comic books are represented (Stan Lee), along with daredevils (Evel Knievel), golfers (Bobby Jones and Walter Hagen), sportswriters (Grantland Rice), tennis players (Helen Moody), industrialists (Henry Ford), inventors (Alexander Graham Bell), football players (Bob Griese, Jim Kiick, Earl Campbell, Red Grange, Fred Biletnikoff, and Don Maynard), NASCAR (Darrell Waltrip), Olympians (Jim Thorpe) and boxers (Gene Tunney, John L. Sullivan, Abe Attrell and Rocky Marciano).

A really curious addition is a card of Arnold Rothstein, the gambler who masterminded the Black Sox fix in the 1919 World Series. I just find it curious to immortalize Rothstein that way, although it is certainly true that he played a large role during the golden age. Of course, Panini also carries a base card of Pete Rose in this set, and while I am not trying to lump Charlie Hustle with Rothstein, the fact remains that both men were gamblers. Interesting.

The design has an old-time feel to it, with the subject featured in an oval surrounded by an ornate design and blue-green trim. Looks attractive.

A hobby box contains 24 packs, with six cards to a pack. Each pack includes a mini-card, which, like the base set, has 150 subjects. There are variations for base cards; check the backs to find the variation; the card number will be followed by an “SP” designation. Plus, the photo on the front will be different than the base card. There was one variation in the hobby box I opened, and it was a card of jockey Laffit Pincay.

In total, I pulled 101 of the 150 base cards, plus one variation.

The mini-cards have parallels, with different back colors and cigarette companies. I pulled 13 Base Ball Caramel minis, plus a red ink back parallel; eight Carolina Brights minis, plus a brown ink back; and a Nadja Caramel back.

Collectors who buy hobby boxes will find a box topper. There are 40 different subjects, and I pulled a black and white shot of Steve Cauthen, the jockey who rode Affirmed to the Triple Crown in 1978.

I should backtrack and note that Panini once again places big emphasis on horse racing in this set. There are many cards of jockeys (Cauthen and Pincay, for example) and horses, like War Admiral, Affirmed and Seabiscuit. Secretariat does appear, but not in the base set. Big Red is one of the box toppers, part of the playing card set and one of the Delong Gum inserts.

The playing card set contains 52 subjects, plus two jokers. The box I pulled yielded eight of these cards. The Delong Gum cards are a 30-subject subset, with an average of two per box. The cards I pulled were both Hall of Fame baseball players: Johnny Bench and Hack Wilson.

Die-cuts feature bread as the theme, with a 10-card Tip Top Bread labels insert and a 10-card Bread For Energy set. There was one of each type in the hobby box I sampled, with Brooks Robinson the Tip Top card while fellow Hall of Famer Buck Leonard was featured on the Bread For Energy card.

Headlines is a 15-card insert set that takes on a newspaper-design look. There were two in the hobby box I opened. A curious one was the 1972 Dolphins’ perfect season card. It shows Bob Griese calling signals while the offensive line prepares to block. What’s curious is that the photo shows the opponent as the Baltimore Colts. Griese played only sparingly in that particular game, completing two of three passes as he returned from a broken ankle he suffered in Game 5 of the season; the Colts were Game 14. Makes me wonder if the photo was from the 1972 season, or, more to the point, why wasn’t a different action shot used that was more representative of the Dolphins’ perfect season? 

Speaking of perfection, Panini hits it big (in my opinion, anyway) by including Three Stooges cards. In addition to one base card featuring Moe, Larry and Curly, there is also a nine-card insert set that highlights their film career. I would “soitenly” want to complete that set.

With great fanfare earlier this month, Panini announced base cards and autographs from some of the cast members of the 1976 movie, “The Bad News Bears.” The first autograph card in the hobby box I opened was from an actor in that movie: Jackie Earle Haley, who played motorcycle-riding misfit Kelly Leak in the film. Haley’s most definitive role, however, might have been as pedophile Ronnie McGorvey in the 2006 film “Little Children.”  Haley received several film awards for that role and was nominated for an Academy Award.

The autograph is an on-card signature, and Haley includes the number he wore (No. 3) on the inscription.

The second autograph is of a first baseman from another misfit team: Ed Kranepool, who debuted as a 17-year-old with the 1962 New York Mets. He broke in with the Mets on Sept. 22, 1962, and played three games, going 1-for-6. “Steady Eddie” played 18 seasons, all with the Mets. Hard to believe that Kranepool is 68 years old.

There were two relic cards in the hobby box are sampled. Both were printed on thick card stock with nice swatches of material. The first card featured some black clothing material worn by Carson, while the second card displayed a purple, felt swatch worn by former heavyweight champion Joe Frazier. The cards look great, but the one drawback is that the swatch is not identified as a particular piece; I mean, was Frazier’s game-used swatch from his trunks, his robe, or from somewhere else? Panini does not say. Same with Carson. All it says on the back of the card is that “the enclosed material is guaranteed by Panini America, Inc.”

If history is your passion, then Golden Age will appeal to you. I’ve mentioned a lot of stars not affiliated with baseball, but there are plenty of baseball stars in this set, too. There are some of the usual baseball Hall of Famers, but also some lesser-knowns like Wally Pipp, Ted Simmons, Norm Cash and Tommy Davis.

It’s a nice selection, and another strong effort by Panini.

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