by Rich Klein
The recently released Bowman Chrome baseball product completes the troika or trilogy (whichever word you prefer) of "new products affected by uber-prospect Stephen Strasburg's rotator cuff surgery”.
When it became clear Strasburg was no longer going to be a serious National League Rookie of the Year candidate and likely going to be out for most if not all of the 2011 season, the buzz went out of what had been an infusion of energy in the new card market.
Strasburg, who had been the most prominent rookie on a card since the fabled 2001 class led then by Albert Pujols, Ichiro Suzuki and Mark Prior, was still having an huge impact on card prices. However, this time his absence from playing was going to reduce this interest in 2010 Topps Chrome, 2010 Topps Update and Highlights and 2010 Bowman Chrome. Those three products were all heavily pre-sold in no small part due to the Strasburg hype.
Thus, the recently released Bowman Chrome product had already been through a lot before ever being issued. It was too late for Topps to go in another direction though. Even the unopened box mentions to "Look for Autographs of Stephen Strasburg".
With just 72 cards in an box, having one autograph is not a bad "hit" as that means between one and two of every 100 cards is autographed.
Because of that, the interest in for these boxes, which contain 18 packs with four cards per pack, is still reasonably strong although some dealers took a big financial hit. My local card store owner in Texas told me he went through nearly two dozen cases of this product, although he admitted that in some cases he did not take his standard mark-up. For those interested in buying this product online $50-60 per box should be sufficient to land a box if you shop around. If Strasburg returns as good as ever, these boxes could be a bargain down the road.
To their credit, Topps also understands that there are issues with collectors who may be "buried" in the late-season products due to purchasing pre-sales at a higher level. Much like they did with Topps Chrome, the company announced late last week that for each 18 hobby wrappers sent in (A full box worth of wrappers), a five-card "redemption pack" would be issued with a chance for collectors to receive autographs.
That is one way of making collectors feel better if their box did not live up to what was hoped by those collectors who may have purchased these boxes before Strasburg got injured
So how did we do with the box we opened? Interestingly enough, before we begin, I need to mention that this is the only box we opened from the group of products affected by the Strasburg injury in which we didn't land a Strasburg card. However, as you will see, we ended up being quite satisfied with what we received.
We were lucky enough to be able to get two autographs out of this box and will also be mailing in for those five bonus cards. Thus, if everyone was as fortunate as we were in this box, the suspicion is that these boxes would quickly regain their price momentum. Strasburg's return would be a bigger bonus.
Rich Klein can be reached at [email protected]