I remember being a snot-nosed, punk teenager back in 1997 at my local card shop, bustin’ packs of the inaugural Bowman Chrome. At $7.50 a pack, these cards were THE biggest craze in the hobby at the time and as much as I wanted that Kerry Wood, two packs was the limit for me. I didn’t understand the hype with these cards, which featured a very dark design scheme and had what seemed like at least one off-centered card per 4-card pack.
To me, 1997 Bowman’s Best seemed like the product destined to explode. For starters, the cards had a cool, futuristic design and featured on-card, certified autographs, which Chrome didn’t have. It also had the wonderful Xfractor parallels which absolutely destroyed Bowman Chrome’s Refractors, at least in 1997.
The thing was, in 1997, we didn’t have information at our fingertips and if you busted enough of a product without paying attention, you might miss something. For example, I opened maybe 20 packs of 1996 Topps Chrome from my local hobby shop. A year later, I went through my commons boxes to see what players I may have missed who were having good years and found not 1 but 3 Refractors. If you didn’t hold these things up to a light, you just didn’t see the technology. It was pretty subtle.
Oh, but not the Bowman’s Best Xfractor. If you were lucky to find one of these in 1997, you knew you just hit the jackpot, even if it was of a guy like Moises Alou or J.T. Snow. The year prior, the Xfractors were even crazier looking and completely different. The same for 1998, as a matter of fact. Back then, there was always some new innovation, no one was resting on their laurels, especially not an underdog named Pinnacle Brands.
For what it’s worth, to me, nothing topped 1997’s Totally Certified. It was produced by a company who would be out of business the following year, which makes T.C. the only year that it was available. We never really got to see what was next, what could have been. There are promos of stuff out there of Pinnacle Certified, but no finished images on the Totally brand and it’s sad.
Now, if you’re strictly a set collector or on a budget, odds are you weren’t a fan of Totally and I totally understand. See what I did there? I bought exactly one pack of this at my card shop for a whopping $11. The inflation calculator tells me that’s the equivalent of $17.50 by today’s standards. That was for a whopping three cards, all serial numbered of course.
So while T.C. didn’t have any certified autographs or much else to rely on, the look of the cards for ITS TIME and TODAY, is still as impressive as anything you will ever see on a trading card. A simple card scan or photograph won’t do it justice, you’d have to find one for yourself, in person, just to see the beauty of these cards. Unfortunately, the printer used to create these magical cards was sold off and never seen again.
These days, despite the small checklist, the Gold versions of these cards still go for big money. In each pack, you would find two Red (#’d to 3,999) and a Blue (#’d to 1,999). The Gold versions, however, were ridiculously numbered to just 30. That is why a recent Gold of Mark McGwire sold for over $550 and a Ken Griffey Jr. is sitting on eBay with a Buy It Now well into the 7K figures. Player collectors are insane, so it will eventually sell.
One thing that has changed in the decade since I started blogging in the price of Totally Certified baseball. Back in 2007, I could still find a box or two under $60 if I worked for it. Today, you won’t find one for under $100. With only 19,980 boxes of TC produced and maybe even less hitting the market, one has to wonder just how many unopened boxes of this product even exists twenty years later.