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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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Panini signs Strasburg to autograph deal

Posted Mar 19, 2013 by Bob D'Angelo

Updated Apr 1, 2013 at 06:09 PM

Panini America snagged its first ace on Tuesday. The sports card company announced that it had reached a multiyear autograph agreement with Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg.

The right-hander had an exclusive deal with Topps in 2010, when his image adorned boxes and packs. Now, two years and one Tommy John surgery later, Strasburg is in the Panini fold.

Monetary terms were not disclosed, but the deal gives Panini exclusive rights to produce autographed trading cards of the right-hander, who went 15-6 last season but was shut down in September as the team held him to a 160-inning limit (he actually threw 159 1/3 innings).

Panini’s first cards featuring Strasburg’s autograph will appear in April with the release of Prizm baseball. The card will feature Strasburg in his Team USA Baseball uniform from 2008; Panini has an exclusive license with Team USA. Panini has a limited license with the MLB Players Association and cannot show Strasburg in a uniform that shows team logos or other markings that are the exclusive property of Major League Baseball. That exclusivity belongs to Topps, which extended that agreement to the year 2020 on Monday.

Still, bringing Strasburg into the fold is a coup for Panini.

“Stephen Strasburg is one of the most dominant pitchers in the game today; and one of baseball’s most popular and collected players,” Panini CEO Mark Warsop said in a news release. “His exclusive presence in our licensed MLBPA trading card releases is a huge development for us and will add even more excitement to our roster of products. We’re honored that Stephen has entrusted us — exclusively — to represent and protect the integrity and collectibility of his autographed trading cards.”

Strasburg is Panini’s first exclusive athlete for its MLBPA trading card products. He joins Panini’s stable of athletes that include Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers, Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers, Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Hornets. Panini also has an exclusive autograph memorabilia deal with Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck for its Panini Authentic memorabilia division.

In the same news release that quoted Warsop, Strasburg said he was “excited” to announce his partnership with “an innovative company” like Panini.
“I’m looking forward to working with Panini and joining the ranks of their other exclusive athletes for trading cards,” he said.

The best part about Strasburg’s new deal? Collectors know that even in October, the pitcher will be available on autographed cards — unless of course, the product sells out. However, I can’t predict what his pitching schedule might be this September and October.

But getting Strasburg and putting his first card in Prizm is bound to be a winning hand for Panini.

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