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1999 Bowman’s Best Baseball Review

Typically, I don’t open very many Bowman products but when I saw a box of 1999 Bowman’s Best out there for under $40, it was hard to resist. The rookie class of ’99 included the likes of Burrell, Sabathia, Holliday, Soriano, Burnett, and many more, all of whom could be found in this product. While they are long shots to pull, there are randomly inserted game-used cards and autographed cards featuring Mike Schmidt, Don Mattingly, Derek Jeter, Pat Burrell, Troy Glaus, and others. Hey, I’ve beaten the odds before…

Box Details: 24 packs per box, 6 cards per pack, $37

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Base set: The base set is comprised of 200 cards: 85 veterans (gold background), 15 Best Performers (bronze background), 50 prospects (silver background), and 50 rookies (blue background). The last 50 rookies are shortprinted and seeded at a rate of one per pack. Altogether, I pulled 136/200 basic cards (68%) with just a single duplicate (Barry Bonds)! My notable rookies included Pat Burrell, Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Pena, Matt Holliday, A.J. Burnett, Mark Mulder, and Nick Johnson.

Refractors (1:15 packs, /400): Seeded at approximately two per box, the refractors mirror the entire set and are serially numbered to 400. My two refractors were Tony Gwynn (071/400)(PunkRockPaint?) and Doug Mientkiewicz (RC – 015/400). Atomic refractors also exist in this product are numbered to just 100, but I did not pull any.

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Mirror Image (10 cards, 1:24 packs): The dual-sided Mirror Image insert cards returned in 1999 and they were very…..well….blue. Like always, these cards featured the pairing of a Major League star with a promising prospect from the same team or of the same position or in some cases, both, such as the case of my Greg Maddux/Bruce Chen card. These inserts are mirrored by Refractor (1:96 packs) and Atomic Refractor (1:192 packs) parallels.

Franchise Favorites (6 cards, 1:40 packs): There are six total cards in this set: Derek Jeter, Don Mattingly, Scott Rolen, Mike Schmidt, and combinations of the two Yankees and two Phillies respectively. I pulled Don Mattingly. Each of the six cards has a very rare autographed variation as well. Each of the four single autographed cards have a seeding rate of 1 in 1,550 packs while the duals have a seeding rate of 1 in 6,174 packs.

Future Foundations (10 cards, 1:41 packs, /3,000): This insert set features 10 of the game’s best prospects on a die-cut card featuring a brick background. The regular version of these cards is known as Mach I and is limited to just 3,000 copies. There are two parallels to this set:

Mach II (refractor): 1:124 packs, numbered to 1,000
Mach III (atomic refractor): 1:248 packs, numbered to 500

My pull was a Mach I of former Rockies prospect Derrick Gibson (1796/3000).

Franchise Best (10 cards, 1:41 packs, /3,000): The Franchise Best inserts are virtually identical to the Future Foundations inserts in that the set size, insertion ratios, and even the parallels are exactly the same. The only difference, of course, is that this set features veterans and not prospects. Once again, the regular version is referred to as Mach I and is accompanied by refractor (Mach II) and atomic refractor (Mach III) parallels. In this box, I pulled both a Mach I (1938/3000) and a Mach II (0528/1000) of Alex Rodriguez.

Final Thoughts/Grades:
Collation: A+

One duplicate. That was all. I don’t think I’ll ever have that kind of great collation again. This grade goes without saying.

Condition: B

Some dirty surfaces and scratches on the glossy backs bring the box’s grade down a little. Most of the cards came out of the packs fine but a few were downright terrible.

Pulls: A

There was no autograph or game-used card, but this box was still very strong: Maddux insert, Mattingly insert, two A-Rod inserts, a Gwynn refractor, and several good rookies. I now also have a nice starter set with minimal extras.

Value: A

I’ve seen this box listed in several places for about $50 or so but if you look, you could get it for as cheap as I did. For $37, you’ll be able to pull a nice array of attractive inserts, a couple refractors, and you’re sure to improve your rookie collection. Some cards may have condition issues but they’ll likely be far in the minority. This box is still a winner.

Final Grade: A

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1994 Bowman’s Best Baseball Review

1994 Bowman's Best
In 1994, a new mainstay product was introduced. It was from Bowman, but had an edgier look and a chrome-like finish to it. This was the very first issue of Bowman’s Best. It was a simple product devoid of inserts. There were veterans, rookies/young stars, a subset, a refractor parallel, and that was it. (READ: This will be a short review) There were no autographs, no atomic refractors, and no insert sets. Each box contained 24 packs of 7 cards each. These can be easily had for under $30. I decided to try one out, and wasn’t disappointed. Here’s what I got:

Base set: There are 200 cards in the base set. They break down as follows: 90 RED cards, 90 BLUE cards, and 20 Mirror Image SUBSET cards, found 1 per pack. The red cards featured your veterans, the blues featured rookies/prospects/young stars, and the Mirror Images featured a veteran paired with a rising star at the same position. The cards themselves look OK, but there appears to be granite all over the place for some reason. I pulled 61/90 red cards, 55/90 blue cards, and 16/20 Mirror Image cards. Overall, that’s 132/200 base cards. I also had 33 duplicates and 1 triple.

Refractors (1:9 packs): All 200 cards in the set come with a refractor parallel. One would find 2-3 of these per box. I pulled 2 from my box. The first was a blue card: D.J. Boston (Blue Jays), the brother of former outfielder Daryl Boston, and a career minor leaguer. The second was a veteran, who also had ties to Toronto, and was even part of the 1992 Championship team: Jimmy Key. As a Yankee fan, I was very happy with this card, even if it’s not worth a whole lot. Oh yeah, and what’s he like, 45?

Final Thoughts: This box was a fun one to rip, even with the lack of inserts and only a couple parallels. I should note that the following year’s Bowman’s Best product (1995 – The BIG ONE with Vlad, Andruw, Rolen, Abreu, Carpenter, etc. rookies) followed a similar format so there were no insert sets until 1996. I did get 2 of the 3 best rookies in the set in Jorge Posada and Billy Wagner (the other one being Edgar Renteria). The Mirror Image cards were cool. It’s always interesting to look back and see which players were considered the future back then. Overall, not a bad box for just $27. For that price, why not go ahead and rip one?

As always, thanks for the read and good luck with your own box breaks!
-John