By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor
With a college license in hand, Panini America is reviving a popular brand from the past with the NCAA logos at the forefront.
The brand is 2015 Panini Contenders, and it will arrive on Oct. 7 packing many of the game’s young stars in their college, international and USA Baseball uniforms. It’s a brand that’s been on the bench since 2011 when Panini entered the baseball ranks as part of its licensing deal with the MLB Players Association.
Collectors can expect six autographs and eight cards per pack, 24 packs per box and 12 boxes per case. A basic set size and a preliminary checklist was not revealed for the product.
Signatures are the driving force here with eight different types of autographed cards to be found. Three of them will be hobby-exclusive finds with College Cracked Ice Tickets for 50 top college stars, including Golden Spikes Award winner Andrew Benintendi, Dansby Swanson, Alex Bregman, Carson Fulmer, Dillon Tate, Tyler Jay, Ian Happ, Kevin Newman, Alex Young and Nathan Kirby to name a few. Prospect Playoff Ticket cards also will be hobby-only with prospects who have already had a bit more time in their pro careers. Expected here, according to Panini, will be guys like Kyle Schwarber, Yoan Moncada, Aaron Judge, Brett Phillips, Edmundo Sosa, Gilbert Lara, Magneuris Sierra, Manuel Margot, Rafael Devers, Luis Severino and Yu-Cheng Chang. Each of these cards will have Playoff Championship and Cracked Ice parallels as well as 1/1 printing plate autographs.
The third autograph set that will be hobby-only is the Draft Championship Ticket, which will showcase pro newcomers such as Brendan Rodgers, Brady Aiken, Mariano Rivera III, Kyle Tucker, Ashe Russell, Ryan Mountcastle, Jalen Miller, Peter Lambert and Garrett Whitley to name a few. These cards will have three types of parallels limited to no more than 23 copies with 1/1 printing plates. International stars without school ties will be found on International Tickets — a selection of cards that will have four hobby-only parallels including Playoff, Championship and Cracked Ice versions. Those will all be limited to no more than 23 copies and have 1/1 versions. Some of the players found here will include Moncada, Vladamir Guerrero Jr., Edmundo Sosa, Adrian Rondon, Yadier Alvarez, Jairo Labourt and Lucius Fox. Collegiate Connections Signatures will celebrate players with school ties from the past and present. Among the duos promised by Panini are Mississippi State’s Will Clark and Rafael Palmeiro, Auburn’s Bo Jackson and Frank Thomas, Minnesota’s Dave Winfield and Paul Molitor as well as NC State’s Russell Wilson and Trea Turner.
Also found in the autograph lineup is a new selection of USA Baseball Tickets — a group of past and present USA players who will all have three parallels and a 1/1 version for collectors to chase. Guys in this lineup will include Corey Seager, Schwarber, D.J. Peterson, Matt Olson, Michael Conforto, Turner, Bregman, Austin Smith, Blake Trahan, Aiken, Carson Fulmer, Nathan Kirby and Swanson, according to the company. Rounding out the remainder of the autograph lineup will be Oldschool Colors and Alumni Ink — sets that showcase notable MLB names in their college days as well as some other younger stars with memorable school ties. Players here will include Deion Sanders, Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Barry Larkin, Mike Schmidt, Tony Gwynn and Barry Bonds as well as two-sport stars Jameis Winston, John Elway and Russell Wilson.
Although none were teased visually by the company, there will be a handful of insert sets also to be found int his one. There will be Class Reunion, Collegiate Connections, Passports, Game Day Tickets, School Colors and Oldschool Colors.
Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball and Beckett Sports Card Monthly magazines. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an email to him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.
2015 Panini Contenders at a glance
Packs per hobby box: 24
Cards per pack: 8
Set size: Not announced
Release date: Oct. 7, 2015
What to expect in a hobby box:
- Autographs – 6
- Inserts – 121