A couple weeks ago Panini issued a set for USA Baseball called "Stars & Stripes". Normally this isn't something I'd be paying much attention to but Panini included autograph and memorabilia cards for members of the 2018 Japanese Collegiate All Star team (specifically the one that took part in the Haarlem Baseball Week tournament that took place last July in the Netherlands) so the set turned out to be something I was interested in. This is the second time that Panini has included autograph and/or memorabilia cards for a Japanese Collegiate All Star team (the first being in 2013) and the third time overall that a US manufacturer has done it (Upper Deck did it in 2007). One big difference between these cards and those two previous sets is that the cards from the previous sets were either autograph cards or memorabilia cards while the new cards are both.
I've been putting off writing about this set until I got one of the cards from it. It took eight tries on Ebay but I finally won a card the other day and it arrived in the mail today. That's it at the top of the post.
I put together a list of the players in the set with their colleges, their year in college (my best guess anyway based on their age) and if they had been drafted. Eight of the 24 players were taken in last fall's NPB draft including four players who were first round picks. There were four other players who I think were seniors last year but weren't drafted - I don't know if they have gone to the independent or corporate leagues.
|Name||Position||College||School Year||Year Drafted||Team||Round||DOB|
|Shunya Iwaki||Infielder||Kyushu Sangyo||4||N/A||1/25/1997|
|Shoki Katsumata||Infielder||International Budo||3||N/A||7/20/1997|
|Ryosuke Kodama||Infielder||Kyushu Sangyo||3||N/A||7/10/1998|
|Yuki Tsumori||Pitcher||Tohoku Fukushi||3||N/A||1/21/1998|
|Nagi Yonemitsu||Infielder||Nara Gakuen||4||N/A||1/9/1997|
What's a bit bewildering about the set is that according to the checklist for the set in Beckett there are 10 different versions of each card! What I have is the most common version - the Silhouettes Signatures Jerseys Prime version, each of which is numbered to 13. There are five other versions of the Silhouettes Signatures cards - Jerseys (numbered to 5), "Gung Ho" patch (numbered to 4), "Samurai Japan" patch (numbered to 4), "Brand Logo Asics" (1 of 1) and "Samurai Japan Small" (1 of 1). I found images of all but the "Samurai Japan Small" version on Ebay:
The other four versions are "Signatures" (numbered to 4), "Prime Signatures" (numbered to 2), "Laundry Tag Signatures" (1 of 1) and "Buttons Signatures" (numbered to 7). Again I was able to find images on Ebay for all but one of these ("Prime Signatures"):
You can see that despite having names like "Jersey" and "Signature", each card has both an autograph and a piece of memorabilia. I like that the signatures are in kanji - they look better than the ones in English on the 2013 cards.
Here's what the back of the card I got looks like. I'm kind of disappointed that unlike the 2013 Panini cards there's no biographical information about the player on these cards.
The set also contains similar cards for the Chinese Taipei Collegiate All Star team. There was a Taiwanese team at the Haarlem Baseball Week tournament also but I don't know if this is that team. Since I don't know anything about the CPBL I don't know if any of the players in the set have turned professional.
I probably won't seriously try to complete this set but I'll do what I've been doing with the 2013 set - pick up the cards when they are available for a reasonable price. There were only 25 of each card from the 2013 set but if you take all 10 versions of each card into account there are 42 cards for each player in this set!
I really like the Panini USA Baseball sets. It's kind of fun to get college/high school players in packs and see how they do in the next decade.
I agree and I've thought about collecting them just for that reason.
Looking at that checklist reminds me both how awful the teams on national universities are and how awful the teams in the Nagoya region are - totally unrepresented!
That aside, I agree with the above comment, I wonder if any of those guys will go on to big things in NPB or MLB.
These patches are unreal. Can't imagine how much these would go for if one of these guys becomes the next Ichiro.
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