by Rich Klein
Being a modern era card collector means there is no longer a big break between the end of one year's products and the beginning of the next. A side benefit of the changes made after 2005 by Major League Baseball, the MLB Player's Assocation and the card companies was that the current year's products could not be released until it was time for spring training.
Of course, that doesn't stop companies from issuing cards in the winter and labeling them "2010". However, it's a marked improvement from when the companies would release a base card product for the following year just a short time after the World Series had ended. You wound up with a set showing traded players in their old uniforms until the "update" sets were released.
However, cards do take time to produce--especially now-- and in order to spread them out over a 12-month period, there is always an issue coming out just before the new season's products begin to arrive. This year, that product is 2010 Bowman Sterling baseball. In a way, Sterling is the perfect issue to be released during this period since it's the time of year where prospecting takes a center stage after the free agency carnival. It's a high end product that helps whet the appetite for a new season.
As an FYI, I'm writing this about five days after I received the box and there are reports that retail outlets such as Walmart, Target and Mejier have already received their first shipments of 2011 Topps Baseball. So with what should be a last look back at 2010 -- let's check out 2010 Bowman Sterling.
Collectors know it's a premium product. The full boxes consist of six mini-boxes-- or packs (whatever you prefer)-- with five cards in each including at the very minimum, two autographed cards and one relic card. Each master box is also supposed to contain one dual autographed card plus there is a dual-relic box-topper card as well.
My local card store (Triple Cards and Collectibles in Plano, TX) had these boxes at $285 for a master box with packs available at $50. Major online retailers currently have these boxes at about $300 per.
Triple Cards did report that each of four cases had a Strasburg redemption. And the boxes were selling very well at that price point because of the three "hits" per pack. Here's what we pulled from our full box:
Box-Topper: Dual Relic card of Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard #d to 199
Box 1: Base Cards: Bryan Mitchell, Stephen Strasburg rookie card
Base Autographs: Chris Sale, Delino DeShields Jr.
USA Baseball Relics Refractor (#d to 199) Blake Swihart
Base Card: Steven Hensley
Base Card Refractor (#d to 199): Neil Walker
Base Autograph: Mike Poltynewicz
Autograph Refractor (#d to 199): Gary Brown
USA Baseball Relic: Philip Pfeifer III
Base Card: JJ Hoover
Base Card Refractor (#d to 199) Eric Young Jr.
Base Autographs: Jose Tabata, Jamieson Taillon
USA Baseball Relic: Michael Lorenzen
Base Cards; Mike Stanton, J.D. Martinez
Base Autographs: Hayden Simpson, Drew Pomeranz
USA Baseball Relic: Christian Lopes
USA Baseball Dual Autograph Refractor (#d to 99): Andrew Maggi/Kyle Winkler
Base Cards: Wade Davis
Base Card Refractor (#d to 199) Martin Perez
Base Autographs: Jason Heyward, Seth Blair
USA Baseball Relic: Mikie Mahtook
Base Card: Brett Wallace
Base Card Black Refractor (#d to 25) Chris Masters
Base Autographs: Domonic Brown, Aroldis Chapman
USA Baseball Relic: Tony Wolters
For a full box, not a bad grouping of autographs and relics. And one of the joys of any Bowman product is that what was not big today, could be big tomorrow (and frankly the other way as well). So while we had quite a nice haul including autographs of Jason Heyward, Aroldis Chapman and Domonic Brown, the future may shine even brighter for a prospect such as Jamieson Taillon,
If your budget allows for just one pack, it's a good feeling to know you'll land a couple of autographed cards.
Over 3600 Bowman Sterling singles, lots and boxes have already been listed on eBay.