Topps Company produced three Bowman products in 1997. I think it’s safe to say that in the end, Bowman Chrome will forever be the one remembered. It was a product that came out of nowhere and set the pages of Beckett Baseball on fire thanks to two, hot rookies, Jose Cruz Jr. and Kerry Wood and continues to sell thanks to Roy Holliday.
What’s strange is that while Bowman Chrome was the talk of The Hobby that year, it did not even include pack-inserted certified autographs. Bowman’s flagship had them but they lacked flair. Bowman’s Best is all but forgotten today thanks to a weird design but it too had autographs, including parallels.
So why did Bowman Chrome do so damn well? The card stock made the cards all stick together, the design was hideous, and there was just one form of a Refractor, while Bowman’s Best had that and the awesome-looking and long-retired Atomic Refractor. It is Best and not Chrome that should have become the “Home of the Rookie Card”.
One thing is for sure, in today’s Hobby, Bowman Chrome is still the king of the hill. Now, thanks to player exclusives, certified autographs, and the legendary Superfractor, it is essentially unstoppable. Donruss, Tristar, Just, Razor, and Upper Deck have all tried and all have fallen victim. Thanks to a certain Albert Pujols card, you can expect a very long reign by Topps.