Chasing “Thunder & Lightning” not as easy as you might think in Panini America’s high-end college brands

panini-america-national-treasures-college-qc551Buzz is a collector with varying tastes — one where there’s definitely not one focus but many.

It’s a blessing and a curse.

When one favorite player isn’t playing well or is off the mental radar, the collection doesn’t suffer — the focus turns elsewhere. And then, sometimes, there are just cards that pop up because they are interesting.

Panini America‘s recently released Immaculate Collection College set and the upcoming National Treasures College edition are packed with singles on Buzz’s radar because they show something we haven’t seen before — or at least not a lot of — in the hobby. One example? A Rafael Palmeiro Mississippi State autograph like the one above that’s coming in National Treasures. It’s not that Buzz cares one bit about the Bulldogs or even Palmeiro, but the 1985 season where MSU had Will Clark and Palmeiro, aka “Thunder and Lightning,” is one that’s pretty significant in college baseball lore. And since college baseball is something we haven’t historically seen a lot of on cardboard (other than new prospects awaiting their pro colors) that makes a card like this interesting.

We all know the story of Palmeiro as it stands now — a career defined not by stats but one defiant finger-point  (“I have never used steroids, period”) and a failed drug test. Some might also know how there was a rift between these Hall of Fame caliber teammates that stood for a long, long time beyond their successful playing days. The SEC Storied documentary you can see in its entirety above is one where, if you’re a baseball fan, you can probably appreciate what makes a Palmeiro MSU card more interesting than his countless MLB autographs. (It might make you want an autograph of the dynamic duo, too.)

The tough part of collecting singles like these? The format for the packs — just a few cards from a massive checklist inside a high-box price — means that these cards can take longer to trickle out onto the market and boxes aren’t potentially ripped as quickly. After the player-collectors pay their big bucks for their copies — more than you might expect because there’s not much else like them —  then there might be bargains to be had if the cards get pulled. (Clark is a heavily collected player, so in this case that might not happen on many “Thunder and Lightning” dual-auto cards.)

Palmeiro appears on more than 700 different certified autograph cards but a literal handful of college autos — two out right now by Buzz’s count and then whatever National Treasures includes.

That’s not a lot out there for Lightning, but Buzz will still look to strike when he can.

Follow Buzz on Twitter @BlowoutBuzz or send email to

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