May 12, 2009

Tales of a Former Bowman Collector: Part 1

I am or was a Bowman set collector. I have been for many years. I may not always succeed with the sets I had initially pursued, but there is always the inkling that one day it will be complete. My eventual goal is to have every Bowman (and Bowman Draft Picks set) from 1989-2005. I am also open to collecting Bowman Chrome sets that do not have the autographed cards as a part of the base set itself. But that's not the reason for this post. The previews for 2009 Bowman have arrived and the product looks extremely disappointing in both design and format.

Bowman has never been a bastion of great card design. 1990 Bowman might be one my least favorite designs ever. But the brand had always had a hook, the rookie cards of people that the everyday baseball fan had never heard of. Particularly, during the time period before the rise of, the draft was a clandestine enterprise held on the answering machines and conference calls of team general managers. Beyond the first round, there was really no attention paid to who was drafted when, and who eventually populated the minor league squads. Also, even in the local paper, you only received scores and stats for the AA and AAA minor league affiliates. Those without a Sporting News subscription or Baseball America book simply did not have access to this information.

I really did not actively pursue Bowman sets until 1995. Before that, I rarely could buy packs that were greater than $2.00. The first set that caught my eye, 1992 Bowman, was going for $3.00 in my local card shop. I, of course, was relegated to getting 1992 Topps for $0.69 since I had to rely on the generosity of my parents.

During that year, I saw a prospect special, probably on Baseball Tonight, talking about Vlad Guerrero, the new Montreal wunderkind. Simply, I wanted his card. I went to one of the local card stores and bought a couple packs for $1.99. I liked the cards; I liked the one foil per pack configuration and the design was less foily than conventional Topps that year. I went back the next week and bought two more packs for $2.49. The price raised because of inventory restock; this was a common occurrence for certain sets. The next time I went there, packs were $5.49; I could not afford that within my normal monthly card budget. That was the end of 1995 Bowman packs for me.

But the image of the next big thing in baseball stuck with me as my collecting habits evolved.

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