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Retail ramblings: 2013 Panini USA Baseball Champions

Posted Jul 6, 2013 by Bob D'Angelo

Updated Jul 6, 2013 at 09:19 PM

The red, white and blue theme always works well for our country’s national team in card sets, and Panini America uses it to good effect in its 2013 USA Baseball Champions set.

A retail pack costs $2.99 and contains seven cards. What’s nice about this set by Panini is that the company pays tribute to some of the players who excelled for Team USA through the years.
The design features the player set against a backdrop of the American flag. Three-quarters down the left-hand side of the card, Panini gives the collector the team affiliation of that particular player. For example, the Matt Barnes card notes that he played for the 2010 national collegiate team.

The pack I opened contained three blue-bordered cards (Barnes, Seth Blair and Mac Williamson), one red-bordered (Tommy Mendonca) and two gold-bordered (Wally Joyner and Jeff King). Panini does not have a license from Major League Baseball to show players in uniform displaying their MLB logos. However, Panini once again shows its creativity by showing former players like Joyner in their Team USA uniforms (Wally is shown in his uniform from the 1982 national team).

Plus, the King card made me go back and look up his statistics. I had forgotten that King, drafted No. 1 overall by Pittsburgh in 1986, had an 11-year career in the majors with the Pirates and the Kansas City Royals. Did you know that King led the National League in turning double plays as a third baseman with 27 in 1994? Me neither.

The retail pack I opened included a Pride insert,  which is a very attractive card. The player is featured against the backdrop of a beautifully embroidered American flag. The only complaint I might have is that the flag looks like a flipped negative. The white stars and blue background should be on the left, and not the right side.

The Pride insert is part of a 26-card subset, so pulling it in a retail pack was a nice surprise.

Panini has been hampered in the past by being restricted in using logos in its baseball product. But since the company has the license to produce Team USA baseball cards, the logos are not airbrushed and that’s a plus.

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