by Chris Harris
2012 Bowman Sterling Baseball is tentatively scheduled for release in mid-December and will be (delays of this and other products notwithstanding) the last baseball card release of the year. The product itself, which will focus exclusively on the year’s rookie card class and other prospects, should be familiar to those who normally collect this brand. But, there will be one key subtraction and a couple of key additions to the product.
Gone will be the one-per-pack “Relic” cards and the one-per-box “Relic” box toppers; in their place, an additional autograph in every pack. Each four-card pack (one fewer card than last year) of Sterling will now contain a minimum of three autographs – at the same $50/pack price.
The base set will consist of 50 cards, all rookies, and be supplemented by a 50-card Prospects “insert” set. All the usually low-numbered Refractors are included, ranging from the “plain-vanilla” Refractor (serial-numbered to 199) all the way to the Red and Canary Diamond Refractors, each ones-of-one. Autographs of up to 15 rookies and 65 Prospects will also be included with the same level of Refractor parallels also randomly seeded. In a design twist, the autographs will all be oriented horizontally, as opposed to the vertical base cards.
Two additions to 2012 Bowman Sterling Baseball are also autographed. The Sterling Showcase autographs will all be serial-numbered to 25 copies and embedded in a sterling silver frame. Judging from the sell-sheet issued by Topps, it’s hard to tell what the Showcase cards will look like, but it sounds similar to the Framed Autographs in Museum Collection. A one-of-one parallel printed on solid silver will also be available.
The other new addition is the “Next in Line” autographs which will pair a 2012 rookie with a minor leaguer from the same organization. Unfortunately for Guillaume Robert-Demolaize, the collector Topps credits with the idea, each of the five Next in Line cards will be serial-numbered to only five copies; meaning that Mr. Robert-Demolaize will probably never get to actually see any of his creations – much less collect them, unless he got some unpublicized samples.
Wrapping up the product is the fifth and final batch of Bowman Black autographs (each signed on-card and serial-numbered to 25) and 25 redemption cards good for an autographed Yu Darvish baseball.
2012 Bowman Sterling Baseball will be released exclusively to Hobby outlets the week of December 12. Each box will contain six packs of four cards and retail for around $50/pack.