In April 2019, Bowman hit the shelves of hobby shops and retail outlets as one of the most hyped products of the season. A combination of autograph prospectors and online distributors drove pre-sale prices to roughly triple the cost distributors paid to Topps.
Personally, I don’t understand the mindset that drives autographs of unproven minor leaguers to levels that surpass vintage rookie cards of Hall of Famers. That’s a philosophical post for another day. Let’s take a look at the cards themselves!
The 2019 Bowman design utilizes a border on three of the four edges. On prospect cards, the team logo is in the bottom left and the players name is in a diagonal banner across the bottom right corner. For veterans and rookies, the logo is in the bottom right and the players name is laid out horizontally in the bottom left. As with every release, some collectors love the design and some hate it. I think it provides a generally similar look for those familiar with prior designs, while at the same time introducing a fresh twist. I like the three border design, but I’m kind of hoping they go full border next year!
The checklist follows the traditional “Bowman” pattern. One-Hundred “base” cards of veterans and rookies can only be found in the “paper” format. A 150 card prospects set is found in both “paper” and “chrome” versions. A large variety of both numbered and un-numbered parallels provide the rainbow chase many collectors have come to love.
The big driver for Bowman fans is the autographs. Each hobby box guarantees one auto, while jumbo boxes promise three. At release, collectors were paying over $100 per auto in sealed boxes. The 2019 prospect chrome auto checklist contained 62 subjects. Twenty-eight “paper prospect” autos were only found in retail packs. A variety of other rookie and insert autos can be found in more rare quantities.
One of my favorite aspects of the Bowman set are the inserts. This year Bowman is highlighting the 30th Anniversary of their return to the hobby by including a 50 card set which uses a design inspired by the 1989 release. The traditional Bowman Scouts’ Top 100 set is back to feature, well, the Top 100 minor league prospects. Go figure.
The ‘Ready for The Show’ set of 20 cards contains players who have shown some promise to take their game to the next level. In fact, several of these players made their MLB debut early in the 2019 season. The Rookie of the Year Favorites and Talent Pipeline cards are also back again. Finally, the Bowman Sterling Continuity set contains both superstars and prospects on the checklist.
Wrapping It Up
Bowman is still one of my favorite sets each year, but I will no longer open sealed boxes in quantity as long as speculators continue to drive up the cost. This is a product I will look to pick up on the secondary market. I will either go after hand collated sets on EBay, or keep an eye out for bulk base and chrome lots on the cheap. So I guess you could say I’ve got a love/hate relationship with Bowman right now.
Am I way off here? What do you think? Do you love prospect autos, or are you like me and prefer to go after the base and inserts?
Let me know if the comments below!