Legendary Ichiro Inks History-Making First Autographs for Panini America (Gallery)

December 04, 2014

Panini America 2014-15 Ichiro BuyBacks (3)

From the day he first stepped foot on a major league diamond with the Seattle Mariners way back in 2001, Ichiro was a sweet-swinging, seemingly-overnight sensation. He was a national hero in Japan who traveled to the U.S. and became an international phenomenon during his debut season, becoming just the second player ever to win Rookie of the Year and MVP honors in the same season.

In the years since, the one-named wonder has produced a litany of jaw-dropping accomplishments. A single-season record 262 hits in 2004 . . . 2,844 career hits . . . two American League batting titles . . . 10 straight seasons of 200 or more hits . . . 10 All-Star Game nods (including game MVP honors in 2007 on the strength of authoring the midsummer classic’s first-ever inside-the-park home run) . . .   10 Gold Gloves . . . three Silver Sluggers. Indeed, Ichiro has accomplished just about everything in his Hall of Fame-worthy career.

One thing Ichiro had never done before, though, is sign autographs for Panini America. But that changed in a huge way recently when the decorated superstar sat down to autograph a meaningful allotment of original Buyback cards from past Donruss-branded releases for insertion in upcoming products.

The first of those milestone cards — a limited number of hard-signed Classics Baseball Buybacks from 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005 — were randomly inserted into 2014 Classics Baseball.

In the months ahead, Panini America will continue incorporating limited quantities of Ichiro Buyback autographs, including many that are showcased in the must-see gallery below. Enjoy this first extended first look at these instant-classic cards and stay tuned to The Knight’s Lance for continued coverage.