Way back in the day I used to have a phrase, "The Card of the Show". In simpler times, there were moments when a specific card was so popular that seemingly every dealer and collector at a show wanted to buy, sell or trade for that card.
I like to tell the story about the 1983 Chicago National, which really had two cards of the show: the 1977 Dale Murphy rookie card and the 1983 Fleer Ron Kittle rookie. When I set up at the 1990 National just before my Beckett Publications interview the day after the National, the 1983 Topps Sandberg was the ticket and I even remember attending a very sparsely attended three-day show in Phoenix but everyone there was talking about the 1991 Stadium Club Phil Plantier rookie. Yes, there was a time when his card was the hottest thing on the market.
2014 Bowman Baseball can be called the “Jose Abreu product”. Since the Cuban slugger was a newly-signed White Sox talent entering the 2014 season there was enough time to ensure Topps would have him in the Bowman Prospect section but since he started for the Sox on Opening Day, Topps could create a rookie card as well and follow all the licensing guidelines. Give them credit for taking full advantage of this opportunity.
Abreu autographed quite a few cards for the 2014 Bowman issue and they’ve been scorching hot as he continues to hit home runs. The Superfractor Abreu autograph made it to eBay the first day of release but even the discovery of the top hit into the market hasn’t stopped the forward momentum online or at hobby shops. Collectors and speculators seem to be happy with all of the parallels available in the market with prices north of $1,000 for lower print run autographed cards.
The base card design of 2014 Bowman is pretty similar to previous years as the player photo is surrounded by white borers with his name and position on the bottom. The Bowman logo is in the upper right corner. The horizontal backs have biographical data, an informational blurb and seasonal and career stats.
The basic hobby box has 24 packs with 10 cards per pack. As has been the tradition for many years, there is one Bowman chrome autograph per box. When Topps announced that the jumbo boxes would have three autographs per box, it caused a major spike in those prices. Hobby boxes have been strong but not nearly as strong as the jumbos.
On a pure mathematical basis, once Topps went to three autographs per box, the hobby boxes should have gone to two autographs per box. The reason is, there are 384 cards in 2014 Bowman jumbo boxes which means an autograph card is one of every 128 cards and if the hobby boxes contained two autographs, there would have been an auto in every 120 cards. That ratio is much more fair than the current ratio of of 1 auto for every 240 cards in the hobby boxes.
My local card store Triple cards, Plano TX) said he sold 2 cases of regular hobby boxes at 479.95 but had sold six cases of jumbo boxes as his customers basically understood what a better deal the jumbos were. When I was in Nick's Sportscards the other day his box price was a few dollars higher and his sales of hobby and jumbo had also been very good. Meanwhile leading hobby retailers are currently at $75-85 per box.
In the Shop
A couple notes here: a few days ago when I stopped in Triple Cards he was surprised to see how strong the wholesale was on 2014 Bowman hobby. In addition, I happened to stop in on his Panini World Cup Sticker Trading night. He told me had about 20 collectors in the store actively trading those stickers during the day and almost all of them were customers who only came in for soccer events such as that. He said he had not seen some of those sticker customers since the 2010 World Cup sticker release. To him, the best part was a couple of his regulars also liked the stickers and they basically ran the event for him. Like Larry Pauley writes in this story appearing online today, if you’re a shop owner in a large metro area and have been ignoring World Cup stickers, you might be missing a big opportunity.
The Box Break
Anyway…on with the break of our 2014 Bowman hobby box:
Base Cards: 129 of 220. No duplicates.
Hometown Parallel: Adam Jones, Joe Kelly, Jeff Samardzija
Orange Parallel (#d to 250); Allen Craig
Green Parallel (#d to 150): Josh Hamilton
Bowman Prospects Hometown: John Gast, Alexander Guerrero
Bowman Chrome Prospects Base 45 of 110
Bowman Chrome Prospects Blue Parallel (#d to 250): Eric Jagielo
Bowman Scout Tops 5 Mini: Albert Almora, Jeff Ames, Francisco Lindor, Stephen Piscotti. We should mention there’s a Top 5 Mini for each organization making this a 150 card set.
Bowman is Back: Craig Biggo. These cards are in the style of the 1989 Bowman's (25th Anniversary)
Top 100 Prospects: Delino DeShields (Jr.), Kolten Wong. I should mention I saw DeShields play already twice this year. Have you seen the newly famous photo of him after being hit in the face with a 90 MPH fastball? About three weeks later, I saw him belt two homers in a game.
Top 100 Prospects Die Cut Refractor (#d to 99): Jose Abreu
Bowman Chrome Autograph: Seth Mejias-Brean
The Take Away
We love the distribution and obviously scored nicely with the die-cut Abreu, which has been selling for $40-50. The best part of Bowman is waiting to see which other prospects become big league stars.
The good news is Bowman provides exactly what is promised and almost all of the signed cards are in the packs and not redemptions. The owner of Triple Cards says he has only heard of three redemptions in all the signed cards which was the best he has remembered in many years. However, my only comment is for 2014 Draft and going forward to even up the autograph card ratio for hobby and jumbo to make sales fairer all around. You can see those jumbo boxes on eBay here.