If my memory serves correct, Panini Cooperstown Baseball is the first product since 2007 SP Legendary Cuts to be built entirely on retired players. This includes not only the base set, but autograph and memorabilia checklists, inserts and parallels as well. With new rules established for the percentage of retired players that can be in an officially licensed MLB product, Panini has had the luxury of not having to adhere to those rules as their entry into the baseball card market continues its successful run.
Readers of this blog now that I am a freak for retired only player products. Reason being is that when I re-entered the hobby some twelve years ago now, trading card companies had free reign to build any type of product they wanted to and quickly realized one of the ways to re-engage former collectors was to include players from their youth in the checklists if not building entire brands around them.
This era gave us products like Century Legends, Fan Favorites, Archives, Greats of the Game, Legendary Cuts, Hall of Fame, Legends Baseball and many more. These products promised and delivered true heroes of the game and didn't need to rely on rookies, prospects the same (100) veterans in a checklist, etc.
So imagine my elation when Panini announced and ultimately delivered Cooperstown Baseball. I am so happy to report that it didn't disappoint. The first thing you notice when opening the product is the classic black/white photography. The second thing you should notice is that despite not being able to include team logos in their current baseball products, the design team did an excellent job of finding photographs that could be used in a manner that doesn't draw undo attention to that fact. Yes some creative cropping is utilized and necessary but in my opinion doesn't detract from the overall aesthetics of the set. Case in point:
The base set is comprised of (170) cards and is a whose who of baseball greatest players from multiple eras. Some of the noticeable exceptions however, is the exclusion of Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle. The last (20) cards are short-prints and include many of the players licensed by CMG Worldwide including Walter Johnson, Ty Cobb, and Honus Wagner to name a few. These are differentiated by their player images being color tinted. In opening a hobby and blaster box, I have yet to pull one.
A wide variety of inserts, included at a rate of one per pack, makes for a very fun break and serves to further document some of the games greatest players, moments and memorabilia. Yes, memorabilia, but not in the way you are probably accustomed too in the context of trading cards. Insert sets Famous Moments and Museum Collection brings some of the game's prized artifacts to collectors unable to make the trek to the hallowed halls of Cooperstown itself.
Other inserts include Ballparks, Induction, High Praise, Credentials, Induction Year and Bronze history:
There are several other inserts that further adds to the enjoyment of the pack busting experience including; Field Generals, The Village, With Honors, Voices of Summer and Hall History.
The ongoing variety really made this a fun break and I will be buying more not only to complete the set but I am seriously considering building a near master set, minus the extensive autograph checklist. Oh yeah I got two of those as well.
These pulls are really cool. Everyone knows the guy on the left. Don Larsen, pitcher of the only perfect game in World Series history. The guy on the right however, you may not know but should. Bob Wolff has called some of the greatest events in sports and ironically enough, called Larsen's perfect game! How cool is that!!