If you’ve read my stories here, you generally understand that the bulk of them have a vintage and pre-war spin. Truthfully, that’s really all I collect. I haven’t bought packs of modern cards in years and couldn’t tell you the last thing I purchased. But all of the talk about Shohei Ohtani’s 2018 Bowman cards got me to thinking. Could a vintage collector play the Ohtani lottery in search of one of his rare inserts and come out on top?
There was only one way to find out.
Heading to Target
If I’m being honest, I know next to nothing about the 2018 Bowman cards and the Target Mega Boxes. That didn’t stop me from trying to play along as if I belonged, though.
My reconnaissance work consisted mostly (okay, entirely) of scoping out Twitter accounts to see what people had to say. I learned there’s some sort of very valuable Ohtani card and a lot of other just plain valuable ones. I also learned the boxes are plentiful in some areas and next to impossible to find in others. That was enough research for me.
So these boxes are found at Target. After reading reports of people coming up empty in looking for them, my hopes were not high. Just outside of Pittsburgh, I live in somewhat of a metro area where there are a decent number of collectors. I expected that they had been all scooped up and like many others, were now located on eBay at double or triple the sale price.
I’m told the boxes, if they were there at all, would be in a standalone end cap of sorts. So I walked the aisles, partly to kill time and partly to look for something else to buy so that I didn’t waste the trip entirely. Some people had reported seeing them in the toy section so I went there. Upon finding the toys, I was immediately distracted with Star Wars paraphernalia. I’d like to tell you that I didn’t stop and look around but, well, at 40 you just don’t get to do this kind of thing very much. That this was the most excitement I had on a slow Saturday is, frankly, kind of disturbing.
Finding no such end caps with shiny Bowman cards, I went to the actual card section, expecting to come up empty there, too.
Finding the card section was relatively easy, even for someone not accustomed to shopping at Target all that much. There, I found boxes and boxes of hastily-arranged product on shelves, seemingly in no particular order. I was quite surprised to find that more than half of the boxes were Pokemon cards and other non-sports issues. There were actually kids sorting through those instead of the sports boxes, which made me wonder if that was an outlier or a real trend in the card hobby.
And then, there they were in all their glory – 2018 Bowman Mega Boxes (insert angelic choir sound here).
It was obvious that the 8-10 boxes of 2018 Bowman were not originally located there and that they were sort of out of place. There was no labeling on the shelf for them and they were kind of just bunched up in front of other, presumably, lesser product. My guess is that the boxes in an end cap went quickly and the few remaining boxes were just sort of placed here by employees.
At $14.99, the price point is certainly not outrageous. It was less than the standard $19.99 that I saw for almost everything else, including WWE cards. Inside the Mega Boxes, you get five regular Bowman packs and two Bowman Chrome packs. The end result is a price point of $2.14 a pack, which sounds reasonable enough.
As mostly an online shopper already feeling out of place, I grabbed my prize of one box and headed for the cashier.
Upon reaching home, I headed for the solitude of my office for the privacy required for such an event. After all, one does not hit the lottery and disturb television-watching spouses and sleeping dogs. If I was going to hit it big, I needed some space to celebrate.
Things got off to a slow start and it was apparent by the damage I caused to the box that I’m just not used to this sort of thing. Eventually, I got the box open and began opening the seven packs – two regular Bowman and two Bowman Chrome. So what did I find?
My sole numbered card was a Jorge Mateo Gold Refractor parallel numbered 44/50. Also found a few base cards of stars, including Mike Trout and Bryce Harper. A bunch of rookies. A few other shiny looking cards. But, alas, no Ohtani and no major inserts. The most notable pull for me was landing a card of Fernando Tatis, Jr. While not noteworthy, seeing his card did make me realize how utterly old I am getting as I watched his father play and even remember when he was a rookie himself.
Yeah, this day was shot, folks.
So, what have we learned? What did I think?
The entire experience of opening the cards took all of about five minutes and I have to say that it was pretty unfulfilling. I didn’t particularly miss the feel of shiny cards being flipped through my chubby little fingers and seeing a bunch of names I didn’t recognize didn’t do much for me.
One card, for example, that I was actually pleased to find was T.J. Zeuch. Zeuch was a star pitcher at my alma mater, Pittsburgh, and went on to become a first round draft pick of the Toronto Blue Jays in 2016. He’s still quite a ways from reaching the majors and, I would think most collectors would be hard-pressed to identify him. Yet, here he was, along with countless others that may never even sniff the major leagues. As Bowman’s calling card, I know that prospects are ‘what they do.’ But as someone not really into the whole prospect game, these just seem like cards you’d sit on for a while and break out in a few years to see if anyone ‘made it.’ While thrilling for some, not my bag.
The overwhelming thought I got was that, I hope people aren’t simply buying these boxes in hopes of landing a big Ohtani score. 99% of the time, that would end in disappointment. The moral of the story here, if there is one, is that whatever you buy, don’t expect to hit the lottery and collect what you like.