The Mystery of the 2018 Bowman Chrome Shohei Ohtani Kanji Autograph


When Topps first teased Shohei Ohtani autographs in 2018 Bowman Baseball, they showcased a pair of Blue Refractors. One had the Japanese phenom’s regular signature. The other was written in Kanji.

Through the first couple of weeks of the product’s release, plenty of Ohtani autographs came out of packs. But none in Kanji (at least not shown publicly).

Some speculated the special cards might have been held back for another promotion or for some other reason.

But then one popped up. In fact, it’s the same one that Topps initially previewed (022/150). And that’s leading to more questions on just how rare this particular version of the card is.

2018 Bowman Chrome Shohei Ohtani Autograph Blue Refractor Kanji 600

The card was found on Friday, May 11 during a half-case group break of 2018 Bowman jumbo boxes. The breaker was Julie Spoonamore who operates Leader of the Pack Breaks.

“My first thought when I saw the card was ‘It’s about time!  We were due to hit Ohtani!’  It came out very early in the break and I was trying not to go entirely fangirl on it because I still had a lot of cards left to open,” Spoonamore recalled. “It took me a minute to process that it was the Japanese signature and I also wasn’t sure at that point just how rare that version might be.”

Spoonamore mentioned that the buyer of the Angels in the team-style break was watching live.

“He was doing some research and reporting back in chat and it was then we began to think it might be extremely rare,” she said.

The collector already has the card in hand. Spoonamore said they’ll likely have it graded first then sell it. He has already received multiple offers.

How Many 2018 Bowman Chrome Shohei Ohtani Kanji Autographs Exist?

The 2018 Bowman Chrome Shohei Ohtani Kanji autograph is a Blue Refractor numbered to 150. However, all the other versions of the card that have surfaced so far are his usual autograph.

Is this a one-of-a-kind variation?

Topps isn’t giving an exact number, although they did there was a “small amount” of Kanji Ohtani autographs.

That leaves it open to some interpretation and will lead to continued speculation whether it’s a one-of-one of sorts. But whether there’s one, ten, more than that or somewhere in between, it is proving to be an intriguing card in an ever-expanding landscape of Shohei Ohtani autograph cards.

Comments? Questions? Contact Ryan Cracknell on Twitter @tradercracks or by email.


Ryan Cracknell

A collector for much of his life, Ryan focuses primarily on building sets, Montreal Expos and interesting cards. He's also got one of the most comprehensive collections of John Jaha cards in existence (not that there are a lot of them). Got a question, story idea or want to get in touch? You can reach him by email and through Twitter @tradercracks.

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  1. Gus 17 May, 2018 at 15:54

    How rare is this truly? great hit but, there been a flood of his cards with autos. Its numbered to /150 so can we agree and say a 1/1- 1-5 ot 1/10 can fetch hundred of thousands if not close to a million on a auction???

    whats ur thoughts and keep it real and straight up

  2. Steve 17 May, 2018 at 17:52

    He’ll be lucky if isn’t all smudged up or has a corner dinged with how rough that lady handles cards. I’ve been in her breaks. She’s not very careful.

  3. JonathanI 18 May, 2018 at 06:02

    If another player changes his auto on a #/150, does that make it a 1/1? I don’t think so, personally. To some collectors, it’s special, I’ll admit. I still call it #/150, with maybe a small premium for me.

  4. Larry Fassauer 18 May, 2018 at 12:26

    I think at this point people are starting to lose interest in 2018 bowman. The checklist was pretty weak and the only base autograph you can make money on is Ohtani pretty much. And to get the angels in a group break is damn near impossible unless you shell out $500 or more for the chance at that card. 2017 bowman draft is better imo because you have a lot of top tier guys and better chances of hitting one of them

    • Ryan Cracknell 18 May, 2018 at 12:45

      @Larry — Where are you seeing this? I’m not chasing it myself but everywhere I’m looking, it’s still very popular. Might be in part because there has been a break between baseball products but this looks like it’s here to stay. The past couple years Bowman has turned out very well (ie Acuna last year. Ohtani is doing well this year.). It all comes down to personal preference.

  5. Larry Fassauer 18 May, 2018 at 14:32

    I’m seeing breakers do a lot more of the 2017 bowman and 2017 bowman draft because it’s taking so long to fill a 2018 bowman break. Which I think is because there are so many bad teams in 2018 bowman

  6. Larry Fassauer 18 May, 2018 at 14:38

    Mark there is no way the lucky redemption is a Kanji auto. I bet it’s not even Ohtani, Topps usually drops the ball on putting the best rookie as the lucky redemption. Its only happened twice since they started doing those redemptions, once with Bryce in 2012 and once in 2015 with Bryant, all other years Topps has disappointed

  7. kenny 19 May, 2018 at 10:43

    2017 Bowman Draft remains popular with many top prospects as Royce Lewis, McKay ,Adell, Keston, and many more . It’s also affordable. 2018 Bowman because of the chase of Ohtani is becoming to expensive in breaks for teams that don’t have much top prospects to offer. The room that I break in has been out selling 2017 bowman Draft to newly released 2018 bowman .

  8. Ryan Cracknell 20 May, 2018 at 22:25

    @Greg – Topps has given no indication other than the “very few” note.

  9. Kevin 23 May, 2018 at 23:30

    It graded a 9.5. And apparently there are offers to the owner in the mid-high five figure range.

  10. Jon 20 July, 2018 at 17:07

    My guess is that the Kanji autograph is for each serial number 22 Ohtani auto. Based off of this information in the article, both were serial number 22. 22 Is also the number of home runs he hit in his best season in Japan (2016). He also started 22 games in 2015.

    Topps please confirm.

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