Saturday, September 22, 2012

30 Year Top 50: 2004 Bowman Heritage

#46-The fact that this set borrowed it's design from the 1955 Bowman set almost single-handly placed it on my list of great card sets from the past thirty years.  The 1955 Bowman set is one of the great vintage sets of all times and has some great cards, even Don Mossi appears in the set.

1955 Bowman Don Mossi 

The 2004 Bowman Heritage sets does have a few other positives beyond the really cool design.  If you have been following my countdown you will notice that many of the sets on this list have been included because they were either innovative in some manner, or they contained a key rookie.   My most important reason for owning this set is the Felix Hernandez rookie card.   Hernandez is one of the better pitchers currently playing, but unfortunately he plays his games in Seattle and not seen by half the country.  Okay, maybe three-fourths.  

2004 Bowman Heritage Felix Hernandez RC

The 2004 Bowman Heritage Felix Hernandez rookie is a short printed rookie card and raw copies can be easily found for less then $20.  Need persuasion to buy one?  Hernandez has spent the eight years of his career playing for a team that has frequently finished near the bottom of the AL West.  Despite having a lack of talent around him, Hernandez has put up almost 100 wins and 1,500 strikeouts.  Check out his comparable player list on Baseball Reference and you will turn up the Eck, Catfish Hunter, and Don Drysdale.  Not bad for a guy who is just 26. 

The 2004 Bowman Heritage features a few other really quality rookies that would be solid additions to your card collection.  My personal favorite as a Cardinals fan is the Yadier Molina rookie.  Most people over look Molina as a player and as a target for their card collection.  I blame it mainly on his brothers and people who watched him take an at-bat the first few years he played.  

2004 Bowman Heritage Yadier Molina RC

Molina first appeared for the Cardinals in 2004 as a defense first catcher.  He certainly played like that for his first few years in the majors, but more recently he has dramatically improved his offense.  While maintaining his reputation as one of the best defensive catchers in the league, Molina has quietly hit over .300 the past two seasons.  In fact, this year he among the league leaders in batting average, has over twenty home runs, and is tied for the National League lead in WAR with Ryan Braun and Andrew McCutcheon.  Not bad for a guy who hit .216 a few years ago.  

You can also find the rookies for Carlos Quentin, Neil Walker, Wade Davis, Phil Hughes, and Kurt Suzuki.  The set also has some sweet umpire autographs if you are looking for something a little bit unique and different to hunt down.  Bruce Froemming included.  

Like the 2004 Bowman Heritage Set?  Not in my countdown is the 2005 Bowman Heritage set.  The 2005 set might ultimately have more important rookie cards then the 2004 release, but it falls short in two areas.  First, the design is borrowed from the 1956 Bowman set and is not really anything great.  Second, the two biggest rookies in the set, in my opinion, are Matt Kemp and Justin Verlander.  Both have more important rookie cards than the Bowman Heritage issue.  Don't worry, both will appear on the countdown in a few weeks.    

2005 Bowman Heritage Justin Verlander RC

2005 Bowman Heritage Matt Kemp RC

Beyond these two rookies there are plenty of other rookie cards in the set for Ryan Zimmerman, Little Weaver, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Andrew McCutchen.  However, just like the Kemp and Verlander rookies, most of the star players in this set have other more important rookie cards.  Still a great set to own, but I give the nod to the 2004 set. 

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