By Chris Olds | Editor
Topps unveiled its 2011 Bowman baseball set on Thursday, which will mark the first appearance of Washington Nationals prospect Bryce Harper in his MLB uniform on an officially licensed MLB card.
Scheduled to arrive on May 9, Bowman will feature only on-card signatures with every HTA Jumbo box including three Bowman Chrome autographs and each 24-pack hobby box packing one.
There will be 110 Chrome prospect cards to be found and a base set of 220 rookies and veterans. With a new twist, there will be Bowman Buyback Cut Signature cards in the fold.
Also new will be Topps 60th Anniversary autographs, USA Baseball patch cards and Futures Game Triple Relics.
Like Stephen Strasburg last year, it appears that Harper’s autograph card will stand apart from others in the product as Topps touts that there will be printing plate versions, Reds (limited to five), Oranges (limited to 25) and Blues (limited to 250) for the 18-year-old who left high school after his sophomore season to pursue his MLB dream.
Interestingly, it’s worth noting that the 2011 Bowman Harper carries a “First Bowman Card” notation even though he appeared in the 2010 version of the product — a card that carried the same notation.
International parallels return to the fold in 2011, a nod to a late-1990s parallel that vanished over time. A map of the players’ home country is superimposed behind the action image on his card.
On the whole, the lineup is pretty similar to what collectors have seen in recent Bowman releases, with SuperFractors and the various other colors of Refractors in the mix as well.
The Bowman Buyback Cut Signatures are an original 1948 or 1949 Bowman card embedded into a booklet along with a cut signature — an interesting inclusion as most Bowman brands of late have left the retro-vibe to the recently abandoned Bowman Heritage line. These cards are 1/1 creations.
New in the fold are a few insert sets. Back is the Topps 100 set with a new look, but joining it are Bowman’s Best — a nod to the 1994 set of the same name — Topps of the Class and Finest Futures cards.
Among some of the names on the preliminary rookie autograph checklist are Aroldis Chapman, Lars Anderson, Kyle Drabek, Chris Sale, Yonder Alonso and Freddie Freeman, while some of the prospect autographers will include Dee Gordon, Allen Webster and Brandon Belt among others. Each checklist has a few TBDs as well.
Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an e-mail to him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.