Bowman baseball is a collector’s pipeline to youth and rising talent, so it’s hard to imagine that the brand itself is actually a senior citizen.
The 2017 Bowman baseball set will pay tribute to what Topps is calling a 70th anniversary tear with a mixture of old and new. From the early 1950s through 1955, Bowman was a fierce rival of the upstart Topps Company but Topps took over the name many years ago.
For 2017, they’ll be using the designs from the 1948, 1951 and 1992 Bowman sets to showcase prospects, current stars and retired players. The ’48 and ’92 throwbacks also will have some autographed cards.
Set to release April 26, a hobby box of 2017 Bowman baseball will contain 24 packs, with 10 cards to a pack. Topps is promising one autograph card per hobby box. Jumbo hobby boxes will have just 10 packs, but 32 cards to a pack. Topps is promising three autos per jumbo.
History of Bowman Cards
Bowman was a pioneer of post-World War II baseball cards. Its 1948 set had just 48 cards, but the black-and-white cards included “rookie” cards of Hall of Famers Stan Musial, Yogi Berra, Ralph Kiner, Warren Spahn and Phil Rizzuto. There also were 12 short prints in the set, making it a tough one to complete.
The 1951 set would prove to be the largest in number before Bowman was bought out by Topps after its 1955 release. With 324 cards, this set featured sketches of players taken from actual photographs. The high-number cards of the set (Nos. 253-324) included the rookie cards of Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays. It also had rookie cards of Hall of Famers Nellie Fox, Monte Irvin, Whitey Ford and Bill Dickey, along with first-year cards of such familiar names as Joe Garagiola, Cark Erskine, Vernon Law and Jimmy Piersall. The set also included a Ted Williams card, which along with Yogi Berra is one of the more valuable non-rookie cards in the set.
Topps brought back Bowman in 1989, but it wasn’t until 1992 that the set really took off, utilizing a premium UV stock and including special insert cards stamped with foil. It included rookie cards of Mike Piazza and Mariano Rivera, and also reprised some of the ridiculous “fashion statement” cards. Do you remember Chipper Jones standing in front of some cactus wearing a baseball cap, a long-sleeved, button down striped shirt, khaki pants, a brown weaved belt that probably still sells well at Stuckey’s and the kitschy South of the Border theme park in Carolina, and Nike high tops? Oh yeah, don’t forget the white socks.
Fast forward to 2017, and Bowman continues its trend of providing collectors with hot prospects and successful rookies. Most of them are well-dressed, although Bowman will reprise some of those clothing statements. A Kris Bryant insert in the 1992 design will bring back those old memories. The players depicted in the 1951 design will be drawn from reproductions of hand-drawn artwork. Twenty hand-drawn originals will be randomly inserted into hobby and jumbo packs. The 1992 designs will also have orange parallels and 1/1 SuperFractors.
2017 Bowman Base and Parallel Sets
The 2017 Bowman base set, including veterans and prospects, will be issued in paper cards, along with separate paper checklists. Some of the rookies collectors can expect to find are Alex Bregman, Dansby Swanson and Yoan Moncada. Prospects in the set will feature those players who competed in the World Baseball Classic.
As always, Bowman offers several tiers of paper base set parallels, including silver, purple, blue and gold. Orange parallels will be numbered to 25 and red ones will be numbered to 5; there will be 1/1 black parallels, too.
Prospect cards also will be issued in chrome, with parallels taking on several refractor versions. Numbered parallels will come in purple, blue and gold, with red numbered to 5 and hobby exclusive 1/1 SuperFractors.
Autographs and Inserts
Chrome prospect autographs will be on-card signatures. They will include refractor parallels and purple, blue and gold parallels. Orange parallels will be numbered to 25 and reds will be numbered to 5. There also will be 1/1 SuperFractor and printing plate versions too.
Inserts return with Bowman Scout’s Top 100, which, as the name implies, ranks the top 100 prospects as ranked by Bowman. Talent Pipeline will recognize the top players in Single-, Double- and Triple-A minor-league systems. ROY (rookie of the year) Favorites showcase those players likely to stay in the majors for good during the 2017 season.
All three inserts will have orange parallels numbered to 25 and 1/1 SuperFractor parallels. There also will be autograph variations.
Some original Bowman cards will be randomly inserted as stamped buybacks, with autograph versions also available. Collectors of 1950s cards may be salivating at the prospect of getting a Williams, Mays or even Mantle buyback. The 1st Bowman cards also will have signature variations.
Other autograph cards will include All-America Game Autographs. This subset will feature signatures of top prospects when they played in high school. Bowman Ascent autographs will feature young veterans who are rising stars in the majors.
Bowman baseball might be a senior citizen, but it’s still kicking with some fresh ideas and attractive looking content.