2014 Panini Classics Baseball marked a return for that particular line after nine years away from the company’s rotation. Since that time, of course, Donruss-Panini lost its MLB license but they’ve also proven, at times (see 2012 National Treasures Baseball), that quality looking memorabilia cards and autographs can save the lack of logos on caps and jerseys.
We’ve talked quite a bit about the pros and cons about the idea of releases which have both licensing from players and teams/leagues as opposed to just player logos. With the current monopolies in the major sports, any company which wants to produce player cards has to become more creative with their designs. There are many collectors who will say “I will never buy a product which does not have the team or league logos.” Others counter with, “if the player selection is good and the price point is reasonable, then I’m OK with it.”
What was interesting was on the day I wrote this review after receiving the box, collectors inside both Nick’s Sports Cards and Triple Cards here in Texas mentioned how much they liked the Donruss II Baseball release. I have to admit I agreed. We’ll have more to say in an upcoming Ramblings, but it all has to relate to a term called “value”.
To me, 2014 Panini Classics did well in that regard. The product features both current and former players but if you’re thinking this is another ‘hits’ based product, it really is not. Collecting the 200-card base set (including 50 rookies) is a reasonable goal after just one box. With 50 cards from the rookie class as part of the base set there is always a chance for a ‘value bonus’ down the road.
For an approximate retail cost of $150 for two mini-boxes, and on-line from leading hobby retailers at the $130-135 level, each master box produces two autographs and two memorabilia cards along with various inserts. That’s pretty steep, but the huge checklist includes autographs and relics from a host of Hall of Famers. There are memorabilia cards of Ty Cobb, Mel Ott, Jimmie Foxx and autographs from some very popular stars from the 1950s-present.
For an old school collector, seeing the simple design with that extensive checklist was a strong selling point. With Panini’s MLBPA license and their deal with the Baseball Hall of Fame and other individual players, there is a very nice mix of the old and the new in this product, although some would have preferred Panini stick with the past greats and leave the non-MLB licensed rookie cards out of it.
Here’s what we pulled:
Base Cards: 160 of 200 or 80 percent of the set: We did notice two duplicates.
Timeless Tribute Silver Parallel (#d to 149): Jimmie Foxx
Home Run Heroes: Barry Bonds. Miguel Cabrera, Johnny Mize, Mel Ott, Mike Trout
October Heroes: Johnny Bench, Frank Chance, Don Larsen, Thurman Munson, Albert Pujols, Mariano Rivera, Pablo Sandoval
Stars of Summer: Adrian Beltre, Jose Bautista, Yu Darvish, Andrew McCutchen, Yasiel Puig, Justin Upton
Significant Signatures Silver (#d to 299): Nick Ahmed, Mookie Betts (redemption)
Looking at our break, even without the hits there was slightly more than one insert or parallel per pack. While our market value did not match the cost of the box and our autographs were both of young prospects (one a redemption card), we still feel OK about Classics. We just hope your luck was a little better if the hits are what you’re after.
Want to sample what’s out there? Click here to see 2014 Panini Classics singles, boxes and more on eBay.