By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor
Panini America‘s recently acquired USA Baseball license allows for baseball’s next wave of future stars to make their official cardboard debuts earlier than ever.
And with the delayed-but-arriving-this-week release of 2011 Limited, the future is now.
A surprise inclusion in Limited, which arrives in hobby shops today, are the first Panini cards for USA Baseball. In all, 62 players can be found in the USA Baseball National Teams insert — the 2011 Collegiate National Team, 2011 18U National Team and 16U National Teams. All cards are limited to just 199 copies, according to the company. In addition to the standard cards, there is also a game-used jersey element, too. (For a complete checklist of all past USA Baseball cards or an OPG, click here.)
“We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to offer these scarce patches and letters taken from game-worn jerseys from the 2011 season,” said Mike Payne, baseball brand manager, in a prepared release. “They seemed like a perfect fit for Limited Baseball, and should be a nice surprise. And this is just the start for our partnership with USA Baseball. We also look forward to delivering the first cards of the 2012 USA Baseball National Team later in the year.”
The Prime Patches cards will be found for 61 players with each card limited to 25 copies or less, while seven players will have their game-used jersey nameplates made into Letter Winners cards with a letter for each card. They include Bryson Brigman, Zack Collins, Joe DeMers, Keegan Thompson and Touki Toussaint.
David Perkins, the COO of USA Baseball talked about his first look at the patch cards with Panini.
“The card design and patches are stunning,” he said. “As we have talked about with collectors, hobby store owners and distributors over the past couple of months, it’s clear the passion Panini America has for USA Baseball. That passion will be evident in its USA Baseball content and Limited Baseball is just the beginning of the exciting things what we will be bringing to the hobby in the months and years ahead.”
Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball magazine. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an email to him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.