Bowman Chrome Baseball is the flashier sibling to the venerable regular Bowman set. Following a pattern Topps has established over the past few years, the popular Bowman Chrome Prospects insert continues here with 110 additional players. Autographed Chrome prospect cards are also a draw, seeded one per hobby box.
Hobby boxes of 2008 Bowman Chrome Baseball are configured with 18 packs per box and four cards per pack. Expect to find two Bowman Chrome Prospects cards in every pack.
Base Cards and Parallels
Using Topps' Chrome stock, Bowman Chrome base cards are a shinier version of this season's Bowman cards. The primary difference in 2008 is that the card borders are silver as opposed to the regular set's black borders. Veterans have red frames around their photos in contrast to the blue frames for MLB Rookie Cards, and the card backs are once again some of the best in the business.
Refractors are the base card parallels and are identifiable by the prismatic effect the cards give off in the light. There are seven levels in all, ranging from unnumbered standard Refractors to one-of-one SuperFractors.
With only two base cards per pack - at most, since Refractors are in the mix too - a box isn't going to go too far toward the set. I opened a random hobby box to review and found 29 of the 220 base cards, along with six Refractors and a Melvin Mora X-Fractor numbered to 250.
Chrome Prospect Cards
For many collectors, the Bowman Chrome Prospects are the real bread and butter of this set. There are 110 players making their debuts on regular Chrome cards, continuing the numbering from the batch that appeared in 2008 Bowman Baseball. That means anyone wanting to assemble all 200-plus prospects needs to buy some of both products, which makes great business sense for Topps but isn't necessarily ideal for the collector.
The Chrome Prospects have a design all their own with bigger blue frames and a prominent team logo, which is a nice way to link prospects with their parent clubs. Refractor parallels are identical to those of the base cards save for the small but important difference that standard Refractors are numbered to 500.
My sample box gave me 33 of the 100 Chrome Prospects plus one Refractor and one X-Fractor.
Autographed prospect cards are something of a Bowman Chrome tradition, and they are back in every box for 2008. Forty future MLB hopefuls autograph their Chrome Prospects cards this season, using blue ink to sign right on the cards. They are numbered as part of the Bowman Chrome Prospects set, beginning with card BCP241. The autographed cards can be found in the same parallel levels as their non-autographed brethren.
Another dose of autographs arrives with Head of the Class dual-signed cards. These match former first round draft picks with current MLB stars and use signed stickers to put them both on the same card.
The About.com sample box had a pleasant surprise on the autograph front. Along with an Autographed Bowman Chrome Prospect card of Brennan Boesch, I pulled a redemption card for a second autograph of Rene Tosoni.
The Last Word
Bowman Chrome Baseball is known to have a devoted group of fans, and they should find the 2008 set to their liking. Other collectors may not find it quite as compelling, as it doesn't have the same number of elements as some similarly priced products and hasn't changed too much over the past few seasons. As always, Bowman Chrome appeals primarily to the hardcore prospect collector, one who doesn't mind waiting a few seasons to find out which up-and-comers deliver on their promise.