It was only about a month before the April 25 release date that In the Game created a bit of a ripple in the hobby waters as it announced it was going to use an alternative to sticker autographs in the 2014 Past, Present, and Future Baseball product. With highly sought after young players such as Miguel Sano, Jonathan Gray, Noah Syndergaard, Kevin Gausman, and Kyle Zimmer involved, the news raised several hopeful eyebrows.
After all, this offering uses autographs as its calling card, and it promises five in each box. In addition to young prospects and rookies, the checklist features current and recent players along side some retired stars. Familiar and highly collectible signatures from David Ortiz, Cal Ripken, Mariano Rivera and Reggie Jackson are on the checklist. Thus, when In the Game (ITG) introduced their idea of having autographs done on a piece of card stock that is then embedded into the card, many gave the idea a "we'll wait and see" response.
The cards are now available and in the hands of collectors. Past, Present & Future is very limited with only 150 master cases created, so only a small number of the cards have been put up on auction or social sites just yet. But at our shop I took one of the boxes from our master case to open and I have certainly had a chance to see the new idea up close.
Frankly, I like it.
It is most definitely not a seamless look, but I don't believe it was ever touted to be that. It has the overall feel of the cut signature cards which have become rather well-known, yet it actually looks better. I say that because the stock on which the signature sits matches the surrounding card even down to the background photo. And in the five autographs we pulled care was taken to make the background photos match up very well. That shows a good deal of concern for the card's appearance and the end-product for the collector. When a card company does that it deserves notice.
The design features a full body shot of the player in action (without team logos, of course), and they are placed in such a way and size as to actually compliment the signature, in my opinion. They truly look like an autograph collector's idea of a baseball card on the front. Sadly, the backs are just the standard "Congratulations" on getting an autograph card (kinda silly in a box of all autographs). Even a personal stat line of height, weight, bats and throws, would be preferable. Perhaps that is a quibble, but at $160-$180 a box, I think a quibble is allowed, especially since this is a fairly generic non-MLB licensed product without logos, trademarks, etc.
In addition to the five promised autographs, boxes also have a sixth premium card--either a 1/1 Cut Signature Card (from the after-market that is guaranteed by In the Game), a PSA/DNA Authenticated Signed Card, a Limited Game-Used Memorabilia Card created for this set, a PSA Graded Rookie Card or a 1/1 Sketch Card.
Our "bonus" card was a cut signature of Jim Perry, the 1970 Cy Young Award winner. Not a particularly hard to obtain autograph, but it is a nice, bold signature in a quality slabbed holder. The five autographs were also a decent lot that included Jonathan Gray and the recently promoted-to-the-Astros George Springer. All the cards pulled are shown in this post.
You can see unopened boxes and singles that have been pulled from 2014 In The Game Past, Present and Future on eBay by clicking here.