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1997 Bowman was a baseball card set released by Topps. As was the trend for the majority of the hobby in mid-1990’s, Topps began releasing Bowman in 1997 as a two series release rather than one large card set. The other major change to the set was the inclusion of autographed insert cards of many of the prospects in the set.


Both series were released in 24 pack boxes that contained 10 cards per pack. 1 insert or parallel card was inserted into every pack. 20 boxes were in each case. This was the first Topps produced Bowman set that was released in different series since the brand was reintroduced in 1989.

Base Set

  • Base Set

Base Set: 441 cards (221 Series 1, 220 Series 2). The focus of the set is primarily on prospects and rookies only approximately 140 of the cards feature veterans.

The set is fairly condition sensitive as the glossy finish had a tendency to stick cards together and the black borders have a tendency to show any nicks. The centering of the set was pretty good out of the factory.

Key Cards

There are a number of star major league players who have rookies included in the set: Darin Erstad, Milton Bradley, Kerry Wood, Eric Chavez, Adrian Beltre, Brad Penny, Roy Halladay, Aramis Ramirez, Orlando Cabrera, Miguel Tejada and Lance Berkman.

The players who were originally the top prospects in the set were Hideki Irabu, Jose Cruz Jr., and Kerry Wood.


Cards 155 and 158 do not exist in the set. According to the checklists, Pokey Reese was supposed to be #155 in the set, but was numbered #156 instead. Also Chris Carpenter was intended to be card #158, but instead shares #159 with Eric Milton. Neither error was corrected at any point in the printing process.

Card #195 Damian Sapp also carries an uncorrected error, his first name is misspelled on the card back.


1997 Bowman Baseball No Foil.JPG

The cards can often be found without any foil on the card front. Thus the card will show only the picture of the player. Some would call this a printing error, but enough of these cards made it into circulation that many feel that it is a printing variation rather than an error.

Base Parallel Sets

There is only one parallel set of 1997 Bowman, the International parallel. The cards received additional gloss and the background of the picture is changed to a flag of the player’s home country. For example, Hideo Nomo’s card featured the flag of Japan. These cards were inserted approximately 1 per pack. They are not significantly more valuable than the base cards.

Insert Sets

The number of insert sets increased from the 1996 Bowman set.

1998 Rookie of the Year Favorites

A 15-card insert set featuring players who could potentially win the Rookie of the Year award in 1998. These cards were inserted 1 per 12 packs of Series 2. They are also easily found on the secondary market.

Not surprisingly, none of the players in the set went on to win a Rookie of the Year award. However many would go on to have successful major league careers. Juan Melo had the worst career of any player included in the set with only 1 career hit, appearing in all of 11 games in 2000 for the Giants while playing the rest of his career in the minor or independent leagues.

Certified Autographs

One of the more complete autograph sets from any Bowman release, it remains one of the popular autograph sets on the secondary market. 90 different players are featured on cards. The autographs of Roy Halladay, Miguel Tejada, Derek Jeter, Vladimir Guerrero and Kerry Wood all remain in demand with collectors across the hobby.

The standard set is autographed with Blue ink and were inserted 1 per 96 packs. The Black ink variations are much more rare with a 1 per 503 pack odds. The Gold ink variations are even rarer than the Black with a stated odds of 1:1509 packs.

Derek Jeter also signed some of his cards with green ink. It has a slightly lower book value than the Blue ink version although the same amount of each were printed.

Bowman’s Best Preview

  • Bowman’s Best Preview Checklist and Gallery

Continuing a trend from the previous year, the Bowman’s Best set was previewed as an insert set in the main Bowman set. This 20 card set features ten current superstars in the league and ten prospects. The base level cards were inserted into Series 1 packs at a rate of 1 per 12 packs while Refractors were inserted 1 per 48 packs and Atomic Refractors were inserted 1 per 96 packs.

International Best

In a similar vein as the International parallels, this 20 card set parallels the Bowman’s Best Preview Inserts that were inserted in Series 1 packs. These cards were inserted 1 per 12 packs in Series 2 packs and had Refractors and Atomic Refractors inserted at 1 per 48 packs and 1 per 96 packs.

Scout’s Honor Roll

This 15 card set features prospects and was inserted 1:12 packs in Series 1 packs. The “scouts” did a pretty good job picking out the players for this set. All but two of the players went on to have lengthy careers.

Other Information

See Also