I don’t even remember how many years it has been since the first USA factory set was issued. However, the very first US baseball-related cards are easy to recall. As we approach the 30th anniversary of the 1985 Topps set release, one can remember what excitement there was in the collecting community when we all saw that subset. With the rookie card boom in full force, most collectors took one look at the prospects who had been on the 1984 gold medal-winning Olympic team and started thinking that these cards would be popular out of the pack and would just explode as the years went on.
The cards were placed smack dab in the middle of the set. One can also tell what Topps was thinking about the player prospects as Oddibe McDowell was placed at card number 400. Usually the cards with the 00’s belonged to a superstar or a player who had a spectacular season the year before. With only a few exceptions, during the 1950’s through the 1980’s, having a card with a 00 was a major badge of honor. Of course, with the benefit of hindsight we can say Topps was only one card off as Mark McGwire was #401 in 1985. What many considered McGwire’s rookie card would pass $100 during the home run chase of the late 1990s, but come crashing down once it became known that his power may not have been all natural.
After that set, Topps did include some Team USA cards in their update sets until this finally evolved into a factory set. In recent years, Panini has acquired the contract for USA Baseball and is now the company with the rights to produce, market and sell these cards. The 2014 Panini USA baseball factory set includes a complete base set and nine, YES NINE autograph or memorabilia cards in each box (at least that’s how many were in the box we got from Panini. The company has been promoting only seven autos).
Each box also includes one red and blue Prizm card.
It’s strictly a prospect-type set and one to stick away for the future as we follow some of the players wind up being drafted and start climbing the big league ladder. The set includes players who are at the college level as well as the younger players who are representing the US while still in high school.
National Team Jersey (#d to 99P: Ke’Bryan Hayes (He is the son of Charlie Hayes)
National Team Jersey Jumbos (#d to 49): Steven Williams
Red and Blue Prizm Signatures (#d to 25): Taylor Ward
Team Jersey Signatures (#d to 99) Lucas Herbert
While no one knows what the future holds for any of these players, we know Dansby Swanson was the 2014 College World Series Most Outstanding Player. So a short numbered signature with an inscription is a pretty nice card indeed. And we’re going to be curious to see what the future holds for the rest of the cards we pulled.
You can see what others are pulling and check out current box prices on eBay here.