A common theme among autograph collectors is the Hall of Fame. Outside of regular player and team collections, many people like to go after as many signatures as possible from players and personalities enshrined into baseball's hall. That's what makes 2012 Panini Cooperstown so enticing. Actually, there are many reasons why the 100-card Cooperstown Signatures insert set one of the most interesting chases of the year. We've come up with a list of ten.
1. Everyone's a Hall of Famer.
The 2012 Panini Cooperstown Signatures checklist doesn't have a dud among them. Sure, some signatures are worth more than others, but everyone's a Hall of Famer.
2. Autographs are on-card (mostly).
On-card autographs are always preferred over stickers. And while they're not always possible, Panini appears to have gone to great lengths to get most of the set hard signed. The only sticker autographs are from those players who have passed away. As a result, collectors get the full signature without any loops getting cut off.
3. Announcers and writers get some love.
For many sports fans, their team's announcers and beat writers become like a part of the family. They're the connection that threads one season to the next, especially in this age where players switch teams so frequently. Few would want announcers and writers in every set, but they should be highlighted sometimes.
4. General Manager autograph.
General managers are the architects of their teams. Ask any Blue Jays fan who they think is the most important piece of the puzzle that brought the World Series to Canada, and many will likely name Pat Gillick. He's the man largely responsible for piecing together the deep rosters that won back-to-back championships. Like the announcers and writers, the inclusion of Gillick as a GM is a nice addition here, particularly when they are featured so infrequently.
5. They're affordable.
Most of the 2012 Panini Cooperstown autographs are going for reasonable sums. There are several factors contributing to this, but for those simply wanting to pick up some Hall of Fame autographs, this set is an option for almost all budgets. Even some of the top-tier signers can be found for $50 or less.
6. The design is clean.
Not only are they reasonably priced, but they look good to. All of the photographs highlight the players' faces, giving a lot of personality to the shots. The border and Cooperstown logos are integrated nicely making the end result a very attractive set.
7. The set could continue and expand in future years.
As extensive as the 2012 Panini Cooperstown Signatures checklist is, it isn't all-encompassing. Because of the theme, it would be nice to see the design reused in some form in the future as more players sign for Panini and new players are inducted into the Hall of Fame. Recycling the same players would be overkill, but new names should be relatively easy and give collectors some nice continuity.
8. They hide the lack of logos well.
To date, 2012 Panini Cooperstown does the best job of concealing the fact that they don't have an MLB license to include team logos and trademarks. The autographs still show players in uniforms, but they're often turned to the side and don't have any obvious touch-ups. Also, faces are cropped so that the tops of their hats aren't showing. This method could easily be overused in the future if it continues, but here it adds a lot of uniformity to the overall look.
9. They're not impossible to find.
The majority of the autographs in 2012 Panini Cooperstown Signatures are numbered to 250 or more. This means that, for the most part, collectors shouldn't have too much of a problem finding certain players. One of the set's drawbacks is that building a full run of 100 cards is difficult. Even though some cards are numbered to more than 500, others go as low as 10. That makes building a complete set extremely tough.
10. Vin Scully.
Yes, we already mentioned announcers, but the inclusion of Vin Scully deserves a special mention. So here it is.
And in case you're still on the fence, here's a gallery of the majority of the set.