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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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Ike signatures, astronauts featured in Americana Heroes & Legends set

Posted Apr 17, 2012 by Bob D'Angelo

Updated Apr 17, 2012 at 02:11 PM

I love cards that focus on history. If the cards blend history with sports, so much the better. And American history is what I truly love.

That’s why I will be very interested when Panini America comes out with its Americana Heroes & Legends set on July 11. Today, Panini announced it was returning to a more traditional pack configuration, with 18 packs to a hobby box and 10 cards to a pack.

This year’s set will put a bigger emphasis on the military and the U.S. space program, and there are some nice cards that Panini is previewing (and that are included in this post).

The items I find most interesting (and the ones Panini are touting the most) are four cut-autograph cards featuring the real general stars from Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Army uniform. There also will be pieces of gold, silver and bronze embedded into the USA Medals insert numbered to 1, 5 and 10, respectively. It’s an appropriate time to honor Eisenhower, 70 years after he rose to prominence in the Allied hierarchy and a 69 years before he became Supreme Allied Commander. Or, if you want to be political about it, 60 years after he was elected president. The choice is yours.

Astronauts like Sally Ride will have signature cards as Panini honors the NASA space program. One cut signature — or at least a card — I would love to see in a set like this would be one of Virgil “Gus” Grissom, one of the original Mercury Seven astronauts who died in a fire on the launch pad for Apollo 1 in January 1967. Time has dimmed his memory perhaps, but back in the 1960s he was one of NASA’s stars and could have been chosen as the first man to walk on the moon. Co-crew member Ed White deserves mention too in a set. That would be a nice honor. In fact, throw in Roger Chaffee to honor all three who died that day. We have been so transfixed with the space shuttle disasters (and rightfully so), that these early pioneers have sort of dimmed in our consciousness.

Hmm, other astronaut signatures I’d like to see? Alan Shepard, the first American in space.

Olympic heroes like Kerri Strug also will be honored. And I hope Panini corrects their prototype card to fix the spelling of her first name from “Kerry” to “Kerri.” That being said, in an Olympic year it’s always a good thing to remember our storied past.

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