Panini brings batting helmets back in cards


By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor

Along with bats, the batting helmet might be the most used and abused — yet still appealing — piece of game-used memorabilia available to collectors.

They get thrown, scuffed, caked with pine tar, cracked … you name it, they show it.

But when it comes to game-used memorabilia cards, there just aren’t that many helmet cards to go around — not many at all — but Panini America is about to change that with its forthcoming (delayed) 2011 Limited baseball set, which arrives next week packing three autographs or memorabilia cards in every seven-card box. (Need a checklist from a past Limited set or an OPG? Click here.)

One of the memorabilia card options to be found in packs of Limited are Hard Hats, a return of the name introduced with the first batting helmet brand made by the former Donruss/Playoff company back in 2003. However, the first game-used batting helmet card was made by Fleer back in 2000 — and Topps had a selection of helmet cards in an early 2000s Bowman release.

In all, just 150 different memorabilia cards have been made using game-used batting helmets — a likely product of the cost of acquiring the items (at times more expensive than a bat or jersey), the difficulty of cutting them up and the number of swatches that can be made from the item. That means batting helmet cards are more expensive to produce, per card, than say a game-used bat, which can generate many more pieces to be placed into many more cards.

The first batting helmet card, according to the database, appeared in 2000 Fleer Mystique, a Dave Winfield card limited to just 40 copies. The first larger-scale sets to include helmets were the 2001 Bowman Multiple Game Relics and 2001 Bowman Multiple Game Relics Autographs. These cards included a piece of game-used jerseys, bases and helmets for players in the 2000 All-Star Futures Game — all on one card.

In 2003, the Leaf set included 12 Hard Hats cards of top stars with each limited to just 100 copies. Some of the big names in there include George Brett, Tony Gwynn, Jeff Bagwell and Alex Rodriguez. The remainder of the 150 helmet cards in existence were scattered throughout 2005 Absolute Memorabilia in its Tools of The Trade inserts, which included as many as six memorabilia pieces from multiple types of items, and a small number of helmet cards in 2005 Prime Patches for three players: Paul Molitor, Rod Carew and Craig Biggio.

Panini declined to provide any additional info about the forthcoming Hard Hats, so details about the checklist are slim. But the checklist will include Tony Gwynn, Dwight Gooden and Kirk Gibson for starters, and collectors will soon start finding out more soon when they rip into packs.

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball magazine. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an email to him at Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.


Tens of millions of cards available for sale in the
Beckett Marketplace!

Get up-to-date pricing for your favorite sports cards with a
Beckett OPG Subscription


  1. Fitch 27 April, 2012 at 14:19

    This looks absolutely terrible. Is Panini really this out of touch with their collector base? Their products are poorly designed, have terrible resale value and their customer service is quite possibly the worst on the planet. Panini needs to be stopped.

  2. Tom Waldron 27 April, 2012 at 17:28

    These would be better in Absolute Tools of Trade than here and is it me or is Panini running out of these vet’s items.I was thinking this would be a better offer than the over priced Prime isssue.
    If Panini wants to use Mr Peabodys Wayback machine just look at the Donruss issues from 04-06.
    This is a problem for any company that has only 1/2 a Liscense ie Upper Deck. I hope there is more to balance this out I’ll have towait and see more ….please Panini

  3. sickmantz 27 April, 2012 at 21:28

    I like the idea. The helmet pieces should be bigger, though. This design doesn’t make the GU pop at all – it totally blends in with the rest of the card.

  4. steve-o 28 April, 2012 at 07:01

    (fitch & others), to answer your question- YES………..YES, Panini is that out of touch with collectors.
    but……certain, and probably all-liscensing agencies dont give a s*** and give them new long term contacts.

    hey, 2 things….not to sound dumb-but what exactly is a ‘manufactured bat barrel’ ? Is it not made from a bat…..just not a bat from a MLB game ??
    and 2nd….when are they going to wake up & use that good ole piece of Americana called the CUP (now……”it aint no dixie cup & you surely dont wanna be drinking nuthin outta it”) ???? Thats what the collector is clamoring for !!! YIPPEE !!!!! & thanks for shopping at K-Mart

  5. backupgoalie 28 April, 2012 at 17:53

    no logos are such an eyesore
    i wish all leagues would just give topps, panini, itg and ud a license for every sport….enough of this nonsense.

  6. Nick Tegeler 28 April, 2012 at 23:35

    I agree that these and all their baseball cards have indeed been an eyesore. WAY to plain looking without the logos and the design is not very eye popping either. I also agree that their customer service is bad, its the worst by any company that I have had to deal with in my 34 years. No compensation, VERY hard to get anyone and when you do you get the run around…. so on and so on. I used to think I was the only one getting it but obviously its rampant. I do like the helmet mem idea though. I just wish another Topps would have done this instead.

  7. J.R. Lebert 29 April, 2012 at 16:22

    Not to pile on, but wow. These are garbage. I got super excited, as a die hard Mets fan, when I saw that Gooden was in it. Then I saw the card image. Bleh.

    Panini. Stop. You’re hurting the industry.

  8. steve-o 29 April, 2012 at 21:48

    and…….I agree-when I’m looking at my batting helmets on them there cardz…..I wanna see the MLB logo……right on that them there helmet piece-along with a couple paragraphs about the player; like his 1st hamsters name & who he liked to listen to in his Dodge Durango on the way to the square dance and what color his toothbrush turns when painted with glow in the dark paints… know

  9. steve-o 29 April, 2012 at 21:53

    their customer service is bad….because their company is NOT AMERICAN BASED !! I’ve heard things on here to…..about whom they have hired in the last year or so-something about where the peeps use to work. Not sure what all that means ??????

  10. Joe Demelo 30 April, 2012 at 07:32

    Junk looking card…ugly design, no logo…I may as well make my own cards.

    PANINI- Stop wasting your time on baseball cards until you get a MLB licences.

  11. Christian Troy 30 April, 2012 at 10:40

    they still look better than anything leaf and sportkings, itg or whatever they’re called, puts out

  12. chrisolds 30 April, 2012 at 12:02

    Steve: Panini America is based in Irving, Texas. Parent company is in Italy, but employees are here.

  13. Joshua (jpleazme805) 30 April, 2012 at 16:11


    A lot of Panini’s products are overpriced. I only collect basketball cards, but love looking at baseball & football cards. Can’t afford to collect every sport, so I stuck with my passion of BKB.

    I’d rather see more competition between sports card manufacturers.. I hate how sports go with a sole contract for cardboard manufacturers. Especially in BKB. Hate it. Feels like I am forced to buy Panini products. I only bought a few products.. but most I do not like.

    The Baseball bat cards are a cool idea, but of the sample cards I’ve seen online so far… I am not a fan!! they could of had a lot better design..

    Panini, think of the Collectors… stop thinking about how much more money you can take away from collectors… the ones making tons of money are the huge internet dealers/sellers… because when a product gets “hot”… they’re the ones that raise the price of wax.. not Panini..

    Stop inside Fraud within your company. We all know it exists.. just look at all the Fraud UD has gone through..

  14. Cincyscott 30 April, 2012 at 17:49

    Only a moron would cut up a batting helmet with a Tony Gwynn signature on it. Either sell the whole batting helmet or keep your game used items back on the shelf. Thanks Panini

Leave a reply

We use cookies to help personalize content, tailor and measure ads, and provide a safer experience. By navigating the site, you agree to the use of cookies to collect information. Read our Cookie Policy.
Accept & Close