Friday, October 12, 2012

30 Year Top 50: 1991 Bowman

#44- It's funny what turns people away from and then back towards certain card sets.  I think I busted a few packs of 1991 Bowman cards and stopped quickly.  This was the third Bowman release which had quickly abandoned the borrowed 1953 Bowman Color design it used in the 1989 release for two consecutive years of rainbow bordered junk.  Here's one of my favorites:

1991 Bowman Donovan Osborne

I considering going with Geronimo Pena, but he might deserve his own blog post one of these days.  So, style wise this set is kind of a dud, but my opinions about it changed greatly over the past twenty years.  The tide started to turn during the 1998 home run race.  I spent some time that summer following the some of the other home run hitters around the National League and really enjoyed getting a chance to see Jeromy Burnitz.  I cannot find a Jeromy Burnitz video that shows his swing, but I feel like this 1998 Upper Deck Ovation card catches the best part of it.  He had a really long swing and a really long follow thru.  I don't think he ever got cheated on a swing.  Ever.

1998 Upper Deck Ovation Jeromy Burnitz

So, I was enjoying the Jeromy Burnitz swing and on my next trip into my local card shop I started looking around for some Burnitz cards.  The shop owner quickly prompted me to a cheapy table of late 1980's wax and a few odds and ends.  In the middle of the table: 1991 Bowman Sets.  I actually considered not buying the set.  They were on clearance for $10.  He also had some Score wax for $5.  I bought the set, took it home, and threw it in the closet sealed.  I eventually stumbled upon a loose single copy of the Burnitz rookie and was happy to add a second to my collection.

1991 Bowman Jeromy Burnitz

Sometime in between 2000-2005 I forgot I had the set.  It was in my closet of baseball cards, but it was largely ignored.  I the fall of 2005 I moved to Durham, North Carolina for a new job.  In finding a new job I also found out that sports card stores in North Carolina are mainly about basketball cards.  Instead of walking in the door hearing about a cool Cardinals card, or great autographed ball someone just got, I had to hear about either the Heels, Deacs, Devils, or Wolfpack.  Disappointed, I spent one Saturday morning driving out to a Flea Market somewhere out in the middle of nowhere.  

The selection at the sports cards tables was sparse.  There was the ever present cool ACC basketball stuff.  One guy tried to convince me that I needed a Ralph Sampson signed basketball to complete my collection.  I settled for an old friend.  A $7.00 box of 1991 Bowman with sticks of gum.  I took the box home and started busting open packs.  I was amazed at the quality of rookie cards in the set.  Amazed.  Here they are:

1991 Bowman Chipper Jones  

1991 Bowman Jeff Bagwell

1991 Bowman Jim Thome

1991 Bowman Ivan Rodriguez

1991 Bowman Mike Mussina

I returned to the Flea Market a few weeks later, bought a second box, and finished off the set.  I am proud to own two copies of this set, I still have the factory set too, and I frequently flip through the cards.  Tell me this:  What other set can you buy as inexpensively as you can buy this one and guarantee yourself the rookie cards of four Hall of Famers and one really good pitcher?  I cannot think of one.  I have ever come to appreciate the awesome borders on this set.  They are a good feature of any early 90s Topps release.  This set is a great add to any collection.   

Like the 1991 Bowman Set?  Not in my Top 50 is the 1989 Bowman Set.  Topps issued this product to relaunch the Bowman product which has put out a set ever since this release.  Theses cards borrowed their style and size from the 1953 Bowman Color release.  If you own any old Bowman cards you know they are a quarter inch larger than the standard trading cards issued today.  

1989 Bowman Ozzie Smith

The reissue of Bowman not only served as a relaunch, but also acted as a traded set/prospect set for the company.  Many people complain about the 1989 set not resembling the current product at all in style or in substance, but the substance argument is actual dead wrong.  A quick flip through the set and you will see many players that were draft picks or prospects.  In fact, every team has at least one prospect or draft pick card in it's team set in addition to the veteran players.  For example, the Giants draft pick is none other than Miguel Tejada from Moneyball: Royce Clayton.  

1989 Bowman Royce Clayton

The most important rookie/prospect card in this set belongs to Ken Griffey Jr.  The Bowman Griffey rookie is actually my second favorite behind the classic 1989 Upper Deck rookie.  The card has a really clean look and he is not wearing a minor league uniform like the Upper Deck card.

1989 Bowman Ken Griffey Jr. 

Topps also used the 1989 Bowman set as a traded/update set that year in addition to the regular release of the Topps Traded set.  The most significant update card that year was the Texas Rangers issue Nolan Ryan card.  

1989 Bowman Nolan Ryan

Overall, the 1989 Bowman set is another great set from the late eighties that is worth adding to your card collection.  It has great pictures and design elements combined with a great checklist of players.  You can find these sets for around $10.  Worth your time and money to find.  



1 comment:

  1. '91 Bowman is one of those junk wax sets that's actually pretty cool, and you're very right that the RCs in the set are excellent. I did something similar to what you did and found a few dirt-cheap boxes at K-Mart years and years ago and I'm also happy to say I own this set. You just can't go wrong with some top-notch rookies!