May 27, 2009

Tales of a Former Bowman Collector: Part 2

The "next big thing" had been a large part of the baseball card hobby for many years before I made my perfunctory discovery. The 1984 Donruss Don Mattingly and the 1986 Donruss Jose Canseco were two of the more prominent examples of collectors seeking out and hoarding prominent rookie cards of stars-in-the-making.

When the extreme overproduction era hit in 1987/1988, it wasn't just a matter of identifying the up and coming youngsters making their debuts on the major league rosters. It was about finding the prospect of the moment and making a financial killing on the cards by flipping them quickly before anyone was the wiser about their lack of future superstar ability and/or overabundance of these cards. The first example that comes to mind is Gregg Jefferies. Others may include such luminaries as Sam Horn, Phil Plantier, Kevin Maas, etc. How to invest in these rookies was simple; buy 100 card lots and sell as much as you can when the up arrow in the Beckett appeared (because no one understood what that really meant).

In 1989, the Bowman brand was introduced, primarily as a a nostalgia kick by Topps. However, there was something different about the brand. It included an overabundance of rookie cards (in terms of percentage) compared to the normal Topps base set. I opened one pack that year, and I honestly hated them. I couldn't properly rubberband the cards or store them in my album; they were too large!

One aspect did stick with me, for some cards (the first ones I saw were Ed Sprague and Tino Martinez), it simply said in the statistics section, "No Prior MLB Experience". How can they have a card without experience thought my wondering 8 year old mind?

As we see in subsequent years, it was a concerted effort to get the first card of a player out by Topps before any other company. This they normally could do because they signed individual contracts with players rather than going through the MLB Players Association.

1990 and 1991 Bowman (though extremely ugly in design) followed the same concept in providing a high percentage of first or rookie cards in the sets. It wasn't until 1992 when Bowman as a brand hit its stride

1 comment:

Jim said...

Great post. I too was extremely perplexed when Topps released 1989 Bowman. I thought who the heck are these people and how I am supposed to keep these cards organized with my other '89 stuff?