De-Mystifying Bowman Baseball Cards

Bowman Baseball has several products and many releases which can make it a bit intimidating to jump into the hobby. Here is an in depth guide on everything you need to know about Bowman's products.

This article is presented by Loupe.

Have you ever wanted to start getting into baseball card prospecting, but have no idea where to begin? Well, Just Baseball is here to help with that. 

Welcome to my cozy little nerd haven of Bowman Baseball Cards. I jumped headfirst into this maze years ago and it took me a little over a year to understand the knowledge I am now hoping to give you in this 10-minute read.  

If you are going on a box breaking app like Loupe, all of the different Bowman product available can be intimidating. Which is the best option and why are they priced differently?

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Bowman? Bowman 1st Edition? Bowman Draft? Bowman Chrome? Bowman Draft 1st Edition? What in the heck is going on here? 

These are questions I see on a regular basis. Before we even dig into “1st” and “Non-1st” cards we need to build a solid foundation by understanding the different releases Bowman puts out every year. I’m a visual learner so take a look at the image below:

As you can see from the chart, Bowman puts out three major releases each year. I’ve put images of all of the major releases from 2021 below and I’ll explain how each one is different in just a bit. For 2022, only Bowman 1st Edition is available from sellers on Loupe, but Bowman Baseball will be up for purchase by the end of April.

We also have two smaller Bowman releases called 1st Edition.  Check out the image below.

Now that you understand how the Bowman release calendar works, let’s dig into what makes each release different. To keep it simple, I’m going to discuss each release as they are ordered in the release chart. First up is Bowman 1st Edition.


2021 Bowman 1st Edition is a sample of 2021 Bowman.  As you can see from the image below, 2021 Bowman 1st Edition cards are nearly identical to the 2021 Bowman Release with the exception of the 1st Edition Stamp in the bottom left corner.    

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The Bowman 1st Edition prospect checklist (1-150) is identical to the Bowman Prospect checklist, which means if a player has a prospect card in 1st Edition, they will also have a prospect card in Bowman. 

There are three major differences between the sets: the Autograph Checklist, Parallels and Veteran Base. The 1st Edition release only has about 5-10 autos that have no correlation to the Bowman Autograph Checklist.  Another key difference between the two products is parallels. 1st Edition sets have “Foil” parallels and Bowman sets have Chrome and Paper parallels. 1st Edition also has no veteran base – you will notice that when you look at the two checklists:

2021 Bowman Baseball

Bowman Baseball is Bowman’s first major yearly release and contains a mixture of paper veteran cards and a hodge-podge of prospect cards (Chrome and Paper) that were left off of the previous year’s Bowman Chrome and Bowman Draft releases. This will make more sense as we dig deeper into the two remaining major releases (Bowman Chrome and Bowman Draft). 


Bowman Chrome is the second major release of the year and the only release that is compiled of chrome cards only (No Paper). Aside from the veteran cards, the Bowman Chrome Prospects Checklist consists mostly of that year’s International Prospect Signees. Although there will be a few other players thrown on that list – Bowman Chrome is dedicated to International Prospects. You will also notice there is no Bowman Chrome 1st Edition. This is the only release that does not have a 1st Edition linked to it. 


OK, take everything I said about Bowman 1st Edition and put it here. This is the demo kit for Bowman Draft and consists of all paper & foil prospects that you will see on the Bowman Draft Checklist. The three major differences I wrote about for Bowman 1st Edition and Bowman are the same for Bowman Draft 1st Edition and Bowman Draft (except for Draft has no veterans). I’ll drop the two Draft checklists again for clarification.

2021 Bowman Draft Checklist

Bowman Draft is the final major release for the year. The checklist is made up mostly of prospects featured in the most recent MLB Draft. There is no veteran base in this product – only prospects – which makes it one of the most popular releases every year. You will find both paper and chrome cards in this release as well.  

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If you still have some questions about releases, here is one more visual to hammer it home. I took a prospect card from each release in 2021 so you can see that the template doesn’t change among products – just the players and parallels. 

A few more things that differentiate these sets are print run and value. Both Bowman 1st Edition and Bowman Draft 1st Edition have much smaller print runs compared to their respective major releases. Value is a bit tricky because 1st Edition 1st Prospect cards usually sell relatively close to 1st Chrome cards. 

Here are some recent comps on Marcelo Mayer 1st Cards from the 2021 Bowman Draft and Bowman Draft 1st Edition:

2021 Bowman Draft 1st Edition 1st: $15

2021 Bowman Draft 1st Chrome: $10

2021 Bowman Draft 1st Paper: $3

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I wanted to end this article with those comps but I was afraid someone would say what the heck is a 1st Edition 1st, Chrome 1st, and Paper 1st? This is an entirely different branch of the maze.  It’s like getting to the end without knowing about part two.  Might as well knock it out.  

Across all Bowman releases we have 1st Prospect Cards and Non-1st Prospect Cards. Take a look at these Wander Franco cards – can you tell me which one is the most valuable by a long shot? 

The Answer is 2.  Welcome to the world of 1st and Non-1st.  A trick Bowman has used for years to make 1st’s more difficult to find and to keep you buying more product to find them. Aside from the card design and picture, there is one major difference between these cards.  Do you see it yet?

In the top left corner of Card #2 you can see that “1st Bowman” stamp.  That’s what you’re looking for when buying prospects.  Each prospect only has one “1st” and it’s always the most valuable.  

Now that we have 1st and Non-1st solved, what the heck is a 1st Edition 1st? 

It’s essentially the same as a “1st” but it also has the “1st Edition” stamp in the bottom left corner.  Take these two cards for example:

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Which is the most valuable Bowman 1st Edition card? You got it, No. 1!

Hopefully, this article has given you a better understanding of Bowman releases and how to find your favorite prospect’s most valuable “1st Bowman” card. I could ramble on about Bowman Sapphire, Bowman Mega Boxes, Bowman’s Best, and Bowman Inception but I’m just not that into any of those products. 

If you want more in-depth information on different players and prospects in each release, I have an entire YouTube Channel dedicated to it! Be sure to check out my videos and channel below.