Skip to main content

Why I like minor league sets better than Bowman sets


I received a healthy-sized package from Jeffrey at Cardboard Catastrophes recently. I'll show the main intent of the package in the future (it'll take me some time to prepare), but here is a post to tide you over til then.

One of the other items in the package was a sealed, complete set for the 2015 Oklahoma City Dodgers issued by the team. Jeff has access to cool things like that.

I love those tidy 30-card minor league sets. Even though I don't know all of the players involved, there is something so fascinating about minor league issues.

It's interesting because in some ways, minor league sets have a lot in common with Bowman, a brand I ignore almost every year. Many of the players in minor league sets also appear in Bowman, and like minor league sets, Bowman is pretty much a celebration of everything that is not the majors.


But minor league sets are unlike Bowman in ways that I like. The big one for me is that minor league sets, at least ones issued by a team, emphasize the team (obviously). Bowman does not emphasize the team. It emphasizes the player.

I'm not one of those "there is no I in team" spouters (although I'm not exactly a subversive either). But I always prefer to focus on a team, a collection of individuals, rather than one individual.


I like seeing different personalities with different skills and body types creating the story of a season. You have so many different individuals and can follow each of their journeys through an entire year. Who gets called up? Who gets sent down? Who gets hot? Who grows cold? Who becomes a star? Who is injured for the season?



Minor league sets give you a full perspective of a team, including people like managers and coaches -- even trainers -- that you would never find in a Bowman set.



And I get a special kick out of seeing Dodgers (or players from any team really) from my younger days reappearing many years later in a set.



Minor league sets aren't glossy, like Bowman. They don't have slick graphics or designs. They're certainly a lot simpler than how Bowman configures its various sets. And the players are not photoshopped into a major league uniform. They accurately reflect the player at that point in time.

A couple of decades ago, minor league sets were even better. They were issued locally and contained simple shots of players standing with a bat on their shoulder, or simply standing, with the ballpark in the background and advertising on the wall.


Minor league sets aren't like that anymore. They're produced by "official licensees," and one company can produce cards for several different minor league teams. The graphics are better and, regretfully, there is less emphasis on "baseball" with the grass and the stands and the teammates in the background, and more focus on the player. That's pretty obvious in this particular team set.

But minor league sets still have cards of players that no one has heard of -- I'm looking at you Randy Fontanez -- except people who follow the team. Minor league sets don't care about whether a player is a "top prospect" or draft choice worthy of appearing in a Bowman set.


It just wants to give you a commemorative set so you can remember what it was like to follow the 2015 Oklahoma City Dodgers, or whatever minor league team you tracked for an entire year. Sure there were stars on those teams, but there were bench players and under-the-radar guys and coaches and managers, as well.


And mascots, too. Don't forget the mascots. There are mascot cards, no matter how goofy. Bowman doesn't have mascots.

That's why I like minor league sets better than Bowman. When I get one of these 30-card packs, I feel like I have something I can hold onto forever, and "remember when." It's a keepsake. I feel like I have a real essence of "baseball" from these cards. They're not going to sit in a box, never to be looked at again, like most of my Bowman cards. There's a reason that quarter boxes at card shows are littered with Bowman cards.

Plus ...


You can get "pre-rookie cards" of future Rookies of the Year in unfamiliar uniforms, without paying some inflated Bowman price.

Comments

steelehere said…
I never got the "there is no I in team" cliche because there's very clearly a "ME" in team.
Mike Matson said…
I love minor league sets.. I have two sets from the Thunder Bay Whiskey Jacks from 1992-1993 that I still flip through from time to time.

Popular posts from this blog

Stuck in traffic with Series 2

In the whirlwind that has been my life this month, I found myself going absolutely nowhere for a portion of Thursday afternoon. I was in the middle of yet another road trip, the third one this week. This one was for work, and because it was job-related, it became quickly apparent that it would be a waste of time. The only thing that could save it was a side visit to the nearby Walmart to see if I could spot some Topps Series 2. I found it right away, which was shocking as I was pretty much in the middle of the country, where SUVs share the road with tractors and buggies. Who knew that the Amish wanted Series 2, too? The problem was getting back into civilization to open the contents of the 72-card hanger box I bought. The neighboring village is undergoing a summer construction project smack in the middle of downtown. It's not much of a downtown, but the main road happens to be the main artery in the entire county. Everyone -- and by everyone I mean every tractor trailer ha

Heading upstate

  Back in 1999, Sports Illustrated published an edition at the end of the year rating the top 50 athletes of the century for every state.   As a lifelong Upstate New Yorker, I braced for a list of New York State athletes that consisted almost entirely of downstate natives, that is, folks from the greater NYC area and Long Island.   We Upstaters are used to New York City trampling all over the rest of the state. They have the most people, the loudest voices. It happens all the time. It's a phenomenon unique to this state. Heck, there are still people out there who, when you tell them you're from New York, automatically think you're from NYC. They don't think of cows and chickens when they think of New York. But trust me, there are a lot of cows and chickens in New York State. Especially cows.   So, anyway, when I counted up the baseball players that SI listed as the greatest from New York State, six of the nine were from New York City or Long Island. I was surprised all

G.O.A.T, the '80s: 30-21

  I often call this current period of the television sports calendar the black hole of sports programming. The time between the end of the Super Bowl and the beginning of televised Spring Training baseball games is an empty void when I'm looking for something to watch on traditional television. I don't watch the NBA and I find the NHL on TV holds my interest for maybe a period. College basketball I can't watch until the tournament. This didn't used to be as much of a problem back when I could turn instead to my favorite sitcoms in February. Do you remember when February was "sweeps month"? (Maybe it still is, I don't know). Networks would make sure that every top show aired original episodes that month, no reruns. So you'd always have something to view during the week even when the sports scene was boring. (I know, people have multiple streaming viewing options now. But I find myself going weeks sometimes before I see something I want to view on Netfli