After all these years, I’m still surprised at some things that occur in this hobby.
When we received our review box of Bowman Sterling 2014 Baseball, my very first thought was this is the perfect type of pack/box for my local card store (Triple Cards in Plano, TX). With no less than 18 autographs per box and other hits promised, I thought for sure when I went to ask him about this release, I thought he would tell me he’d sold numerous boxes and give me a rundown of the hits his customers had pulled. Not so. In fact, he said that he had not even sold one pack at $50 each and he was thinking of reducing the price to gain back some return of capital.
Frankly, he was as dumbfounded as I because even he felt there was some value compared to other 2014 baseball releases.
He did say Bowman Sterling was released as part of the December glut and that may have played some role in the slow retail selling. And yes, while the current online pricing is $200-210 and the major wax dealer who set up at our last show was at $220, the $50 price for a pack with three autos wasn’t that far out of line. It seems like a product that would have attracted a lot of interest.
One downside could be that the autographs are mostly on stickers rather than on card, which seems to be becoming a bigger deal for many collectors. It also seems like too many stickers were hastily attached, as some are askew.
There are four cards per pack and six packs per box for a total of 24 cards. In our box, if you do the count, there were actually 26 cards including the 18 promised autographs so that was a nice surprise.
Topps pays homage to the 25th anniversary of the original Bowman ‘comeback’ issue by using the throwback design on one insert set, although it certainly looks more 2014 than 1989.
And while the focus is always on the autographs and refractors, another interesting aspect of Bowman Sterling, as well as with many hit-oriented issues, is someday there just might be an understanding of how difficult these base cards really are. They just might end up being as popular as some of the more difficult late 1990’s insert cards. If you have the right player and the right insert set, the eBay selling prices for some of those cards will really surprise you.
So how did we do from our box?
Base Prospect Card: Brandon Finnegan
Prospect Refractor (#d to 199): Noah Syndergaard
Base Rookie Card: Andrew Heaney
Rookie Refractors: Joe Panik
’89 Bowman is Back: Max Scherzer
Printing Plate Magenta: Brandon Finnegan
Prospect Autographs: Raul Alcantara, Albert Almora, Javier Baez, Sean Coyle, Kyle Crick, Braxton Davidson (redemption); Michael Foltynewicz, Jacob Gatewood, Nick Gordon, Tyler Kolek, Colin Moran, Gareth Morgan (Exchange), Sean Newcomb, Cole Tucker, Luke Weaver
Prospect Magenta Refractor (#d to 99): Robert Stephenson
Rookie Autograph: Nick Castellanos
Rookie Autograph Green Refractor (#s to 125): Chris Owings
No case hit for us and nothing that pops immediately, but as you can see, this is a prospect autograph-driven product. With rare exception, those who open 2014 Bowman Sterling boxes aren’t likely going to be flipping the contents now. It’ll be a few years before we see some of these guys begin to make a mark in the majors—if they get that far. If you can purchase these on the dip and pay $10 or less per hit, your risk/reward ratio is very good and there is always a chance that one of those players not overly regarded today will develop into a superstar.
The design isn’t terrifically fresh and it would be nice to see Topps find a way to put on card autographs in a higher-end product but they did deliver even more than what they promised and it’s hard to complain about that.
You can see 2014 Bowman Sterling cards on eBay here.