1992 Bowman Baseball really became the home of the Rookie card
After a 34-year absence, the Bowman Baseball brand returned to the hobby in late summer 1989. Even though the return offer produced a rookie card from Ken Griffey Jr, among others, it fell flat in many ways. The oversized cards may have been an attempt to conjure up images of the original 1950s Bowman cards, but ended up being seen as more of an annoyance than anything.
In 1990, Topps returned to a standard-sized card with a very basic design and some nice RCs, including White Sox slugger and future Hall of Famer Frank Thomas. In 1991, the product grew a bit, but showed that little had changed since Bowman’s return to baseball a few years prior.
Everything changed in 1992 when Topps released one of the most iconic sets not only of the modern era, but arguably of all time. 1992 Bowman became a big hit from the start.
With higher quality UV gloss card stock, a brighter, whiter border, and more colorful, crisp images, Bowman has knocked one out of the park. The cards also offered high-quality color front and back images for the first time for a Bowman baseball product.
The backs of the cards broke down a player’s performance against other teams.
Not only has the quality improved, but the rookie class has been a driving force behind the success of the product. Simply put, Bowman had done everything it could to become a premium baseball card product in 1992.
Bowman 1992 Baseball Rookie Cards
At the top of Bowman’s 1992 rookie 150-plus roster is New York Yankees reliever Mariano Rivera. Baseball’s first unanimous Hall of Fame selection and probably the greatest in sports history, coupled with the fact that he spent his entire career in the Yankees’ stripes, puts his card firmly at the top of the heap in this particular set. The one odd thing, but in hindsight perhaps one of the most endearing features, was that early cards by Rivera and others showed them in street clothes.
The only 1992 rookie card from another Hall of Fame reliever is San Diego Padres star Trevor Hoffman. While not at the same power level as ‘The Sandman’, Hoffman had an incredible career in his own right, retiring with the most career saves in the history of the game. Not too ugly no more.
You can also find T in this set. For years, the Piazza rookie card has been the standard bearer for the set. Although Piazza had a more valuable rookie card in the 1992 Fleer update, this card is still very popular and memorable for many reasons.
Rookie A-Listers aside, don’t sleep on the next tier of rookie cards, including one of the greatest clean hitters of his generation, longtime Boston Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez, the mighty Toronto Blue Jays left-hander Carlos Delgado, Anaheim Angels Angels all around star Garrett Anderson, Angels all-time great reliever Troy Percival and a solid longtime pro in Cliff Floyd.
Aside from the bumper crop of rookies, there were just as many notable sophomores led by Hall of Famer and Atlanta Braves slugger Chipper Jones and one of the greatest pitchers of his era, none other than Pedro, a multiple Cy Young Award winner and World Series champion. Martinez, also makes his Bowman debut. Although they may have debuted in Cardboard in 1991, the huge population there makes their first Bowman cards more desirable to many.
Oh those pictures
One of the biggest takeaways and long term lasting impressions of this great set is the quality of the images and interesting fashion choices found on many lead cards. An entire play could be written focusing only on wardrobe choices. The aforementioned Mariano Rivera is cold, leaning against a pillar in a collared shirt and light khakis on his RC. I’m pretty sure Derek Lowe’s card in the set features an image from his senior photoshoot. I’m sure Ryan Long’s card is his senior photo as he poses with his hand on his chin with sunglasses in front of the same background where I took my fifth year photo. After giving it some more thought, I’m sure a number of prospects have just submitted senior class photos for Bowman to use for their Cardboard debut. Check out Nigel Wilson and Paul Byrd’s rookie cards. One of my personal favorites is Cliff Floyd paying homage to Michael Jordan’s Jumpman image by dunking a baseball through… a basketball hoop. Kidding aside and a retrospective of 20/20, the images are a perfect representation of this era and period in the history of fashion and sports cards.
There are 705 cards (45 foil stamped cards) in the complete 1992 Bowman Baseball set. It’s not quite on the level of the flagship Topps 792 card, but it’s still big enough on its own. It’s an MLB heavy roster, offering very few multiple cards from the same player. You’ll bond with everyone who sniffed the Majors (and some who didn’t) that season.
Released in August 1992, Bowman could be found in 15 Card, 36 Hobby Boxes, 23 Card, 36 Hobby Boxes, and 23 Card, 18 Retail Jumbo Boxes. They could also be found in 80-card cartons with an MSRP of $9.99 at the time. To add even more to the revolutionary aspect of this set, the giant retail cartons were distributed exclusively to retail outlets and are considered by some to be an early form of a box blaster.
Put on the foil
Not only did Bowman raise the bar on the overall design, but they definitely added some shine and shine with more gold foil lined subset cards that really jumped out and stood out, especially at that time. Gold foil cards drop one per hobby pack and two per jumbo pack. Eighteen cards are considered short draws. The 45-card gold checklist featured past and present members of the United States National Baseball Team as well as Minor League Player of the Year award winners.
Although the 1992 Bowman baseball wasn’t rare by any stretch of the imagination, it was actually much rarer than many of its junk wax-era contemporaries. With legendary rookie class, a complete and utter overhaul and upgrade of the product, and its perceived rarity at the time, the 1992 Bowman baseball set is a shining example of a quality product in an extremely overproduced era. .