That is what makes Panini America’s USA Baseball Stars & Stripes so interesting. The casual collector may not have heard of any of these guys, but there could be some hidden gems who will be in the headlines years from now.
America’s national teams are featured in Stars & Stripes, and it is the first time since 2020 that there was a card release.
The 100-card base set is divided among the three current USA Baseball national teams: Collegiate, 18U and 15U.
A blaster box promises two autographs or memorabilia cards. The box I bought yielded one of each, so that was a happy medium.
Card Nos. 1-46 are collegiate national players. Cards Nos. 47-72 are for the 18U team, while No. 73-97 depict players from the 15U team. The final three cards in the base set are checklists for each squad.
In the blaster box I bought, I pulled six cards from the 15U team plus a checklist. I also found nine cards from the 18U squad, and 16 cards and a checklist from the Collegiate team.
There also was one Ruby parallel for the Collegiate squad of Sean McLain.
The design for this set is solid. All of the cards I pulled had vertical designs on the front — except for the checklists — and while some of the shots were posed there was also a good amount of action photos. The USA baseball logo anchors the bottom left-hand corner of the card front, and a solid green bar frames the right-hand border and most of the top and bottom of the card. The rest of the card has two thin orange and green bars with even thinner white bars separating those two primary colors.
The card backs are also clean and crisp, with 12 stars distributed evenly across the top left and top right of the card. The player’s name is in white block letters that are italicized, and there are seven lines of descriptive biographical information. I am not sure why the info had to be displayed in all capital letters, but I will give a shout-out to Panini for the nice layout.
Near the bottom of the card are the player’s height and weight, and also their hometown.
I pulled an autograph card of Brennan Phillips numbered to 399. Phillips, a left-handed pitcher, is a native of Owasso, Oklahoma, who has committed to Oklahoma State.
The signature is on a sticker, which I never like. I also would have liked a nicer autograph. It looks like Phillips signed his card “BP.” I realize his fastball is potentially a gasser — he’s only 19 and he throws consistently in the high 80s— but his signature looks more like a promotion for the gasoline company with the same initials. Just sayin’.
The second hot card is a bat relic of Braeden Weckman, an outfielder who currently attends Winter Springs High School in Central Florida and has committed to the University of Florida.
Overall, a nice product. It remains to be seen if any of these players make the big leagues, but it is always makes for some good discussion.