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Panini honors baseball greats who served in military

Posted Jul 4, 2012 by Bob D'Angelo

Updated Jul 4, 2012 at 08:18 PM

I remember when Bob Feller was signing autographs during a spring training game in Winter Haven several years ago. Rapid Robert was seated at a table near the concession stands, and he would sign and chat briefly with each fan.

One older fan mentioned that Feller probably would have won more than 300 games if he hadn’t served in the military in the prime of his career. Feller won 266 games in his career but lost more than 3 ½ seasons serving during World War II; in the three seasons before he joined the service, he had won 24, 27 and 25 games.

When the fan mentioned the time lost, Feller didn’t hesitate.

“I’d do it all over again. I wouldn’t have changed a thing,” he said sharply. “No regrets.”

That’s the kind of spirit that defined a generation of Americans. And Panini America is paying tribute to those athletes with a 10-card insert set in the company’s upcoming 2012 Cooperstown Baseball set. The inserts are called “With Honors” and includes Feller, Ted Williams (who served as a pilot in the Marines during World War II and the Korean War and lost five prime seasons), Hank Greenberg, Jackie Robinson, Bobby Doerr, Joe DiMaggio, Stan Musial, Whitey Ford, Charlie Gehringer and Johnny Mize.

The Cooperstown Baseball will be released in late August.

I particularly like the back of the card. An American flag flutters in a breeze against a cloud background, and the bottom half of the card details the player’s military service.

Each of the 10 cards will tell the player’s story away from the field, noting which wars the player served in as well as more about his story.
The front of the card will feature the player as he appeared in uniform during his tour of duty.

There will be 24 packs in a hobby box, with five cards to a box. Cut signatures of Hall of Famers will be a prized pull from these boxes; some of the names already revealed by Panini include Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Lefty Gomez and Carl Hubbell.

In addition to the Hall of Fame signatures, there will be autographs of some of the greatest voices behind the microphone: Vin Scully, Joe Garagiola, Jon Miller, Tim McCarver and Bob Uecker.

These are more reasons to get excited about this set. I am a real fan of sets that honor the game’s great, and Cooperstown Baseball really has the potential to be a great one.

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