10 Most Valuable 1989 Bowman Baseball Cards

Unopened Box of 1989 Bowman Baseball Cards

After more than 30 years of being shelved, the Bowman brand was brought back into the spotlight with the release of the 1989 Bowman baseball card set.

Topps had bought out their once competitor way back in the 1950s but now looked to revive the brand with this release.

Clearly, the baseball card bubble was afoot and companies like Topps were doing whatever it took to satisfy a bloated market...

Headlined by a solid Griffey Jr. rookie, the 484-card checklist features many other rookies and stars of the era on oversized 2 1/2" by 3 3/4" cards.

One thing I always enjoyed about these cards was the team-by-team statistical detail included on the backs which was very helpful in the pre-Internet days:

1989 Bowman #436 Ozzie Smith Baseball Card Reverse With Statistics and Personal Information

Overall, this is a unique set in a lot of ways.

And in this guide, I'll run through the ten most valuable to look for.

Let's jump right in!

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Ross Uitts

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Brief disclaimer: most of the cards are sadly not worth much these days...

Like the 1989 DonrussFleer and Topps sets, these cards were printed in such huge numbers that the market for them became oversaturated and values have since tanked.

The only way they can have much value is by either being the Tiffany version (a premium factory set) and/or being graded by PSA to be in perfect, gem mint condition (PSA 10).

That means the card needs to be basically flawless.

Now that we got that out of the way, let's take a look at the top ten:

1989 Bowman #220 Ken Griffey Jr. Rookie Card

Estimated Tiffany PSA 10 Value: $2,000

Estimated Base PSA 10 Value: $120

Ken Griffey Jr. leads off our list as the clear key card to own in this set.

Like many of his rookie cards, this one has held up very well in value over time despite being part of the "junk era".

The base version will set you back over $100 in top grade while the Tiffany version can be worth around $2,000 or more, which might shock you.

Tiffany cards will always cost more than the base cards due to their relative scarcity and higher quality but what helps drive up the value in this case is that there were only 6,000 Tiffany sets produced of 1989 Bowman.

That number is substantially other than other Tiffany sets, by comparison.

Regardless of which version you're talking, it's a great-looking card as Griffey looks extremely confident and primed to take the baseball world by storm.

1989 Bowman #220 Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball Card

1989 Bowman #126 Bo Jackson

Estimated Tiffany PSA 10 Value: $175

Estimated Base PSA 10 Value: $35

Though he didn't have nearly the baseball career that Griffey Jr. did, Bo Jackson was and still is one of the most popular players in any late 80s or early 90s set.

There was just so much hype surrounding Jackson back in the day as fans and collectors couldn't get enough of his two-sport stardom in baseball and football.

Despite not being a Hall of Famer in either sport, there's no questioning how talented and exciting this guy was as he has both an NFL Pro Bowl and MLB All-Star appearance to his name to prove it.

Collectors certainly haven't forgotten about Bo Jackson and the love for his cards in high grade remains strong today.

1989 Bowman #126 Bo Jackson Baseball Card

1989 Bowman #266 John Smoltz Rookie Card

Estimated Tiffany PSA 10 Value: $125

Estimated Base PSA 10 Value: $20

Together with Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, John Smoltz formed a three-headed monster that would dominate opposing teams year in and year out.

All three of the Hall of Famers were extremely skilled at their craft but what I've always appreciated about Smoltz was that he was so successful as both a starter and closer.

Throughout the 1990s he was a dominant starter and even picked up a Cy Young for his efforts in the 1996 season, his best on record.

But after getting injured he spent four years in the early 2000s as a closer and even led the National League in 2002 with an eye-popping 55 saves.

Then he switched back to the starting rotation in 2005 and picked up right where he had left off in the 1990s, even leading the league in wins in 2006.

To be able to transition between two very different pitching duties and do so at the highest of levels makes Smoltz one of the most impressive pitchers ever.

1989 Bowman #266 John Smoltz Rookie Card

1989 Bowman #142 Gary Sheffield Rookie Card

Estimated Tiffany PSA 10 Value: $80

Estimated Base PSA 10 Value: $20

Sheffield's time with the Brewers was a bit slow but after heading to the San Diego Padres for the 1992 season, his career burst into overdrive.

Possessing incredible bat speed, Sheffield was able to hit for both power and average as he'd pick up 5 Silver Slugger awards over his career.

Had he not been connected to the PED scandal, he'd very likely be in the Hall of Fame right now as he certainly had the resume to prove it.

Despite not being in the Hall, his rookie card can still be worth some decent money in high grade.

1989 Bowman #142 Gary Sheffield Rookie Card

1989 Bowman #176 Don Mattingly

Estimated Tiffany PSA 10 Value: $40

Estimated Base PSA 10 Value: $15

If you had to put a face to the hobby in the 1980s, Don Mattingly would have certainly been a strong candidate.

As his career with the New York Yankees continued on a Hall of Fame trajectory throughout the decade, collectors everywhere were ripping packs in hopes of snagging his cards.

Things changed drastically for Mattingly in the 90s, though, as injuries would catch up to him and derail his dominance.

His cards, especially his rookies, still remain popular with collectors of that era.

1989 Bowman #176 Don Mattingly Baseball Card

1989 Bowman #225 Nolan Ryan

Estimated Tiffany PSA 10 Value: $35

Estimated Base PSA 10 Value: $20

While his 1989 Topps card features him still throwing heat in his Astros uniform, Ryan is shown posing in his new Rangers uniform on his Bowman card.

It's nearly the same pose that was showcased on his 1989 Topps Traded card.

And I don't mean how they're cropped differently from the waist up on his Bowman card versus from his stomach up on his Topps Traded card.

The angle is slightly different...

For years, Topps had used the same image on cards from one year to the next so I wonder why they chose a slightly different one for these two cards.

I've spent way too much time thinking about it...

All of Ryan's cards are always in demand, especially in top grade, and this one is no exception.

1989 Bowman #225 Nolan Ryan Baseball Card
1989 Topps Traded #106T Nolan Ryan Baseball Card

1989 Bowman #181 Rickey Henderson

Estimated Tiffany PSA 10 Value: $30

Estimated Base PSA 10 Value: $15

Henderson would be traded from the Yankees to the A's about halfway through the 1989 season but is still shown in Yankee pinstripes on his 1989 Bowman issue.

His base stealing abilities are well-documented but one of the things I find most interesting was how he led the league every year in the 1980s except for 1987.

That year, he swiped "only" 41 bags while Harold Reynolds went on to put up 60 stolen bases.

The shortfall for Rickey wasn't due to a drop-off in skill, it was because he played in only 95 games that year due to injury.

Had he been healthy he would've more than likely led the league every year over an entire decade which is just amazing when you think about it.

1989 Bowman #181 Rickey Henderson Baseball Card

1989 Bowman #162 Kirby Puckett

Estimated Tiffany PSA 10 Value: $30

Estimated Base PSA 10 Value: $15

Before being forced to retire after the 1995 season due to loss of vision in one eye, Kirby Puckett was one of the game's best on both offense and defense while earning 6 Gold Gloves and 6 Silver Sluggers.

His power and run production in 1989 were a bit lower than usual but he did go on to win his only batting title that year.

1989 Bowman #162 Kirby Puckett Baseball Card

1989 Bowman #9 Cal Ripken Jr.

Estimated Tiffany PSA 10 Value: $30

Estimated Base PSA 10 Value: $15

A true legend of the game, Cal Ripken Jr. needs no introduction.

This card features a great image of "The Iron Man" looking off into the distance with a big smile on his face.

It must have been cold that day, too, as he's sporting a turtle neck.

While he's widely-known as the record holder for most consecutive games ever played, he also played those games at a high level going down in history as arguably the greatest shortstop of all-time.

His consistency and dedication should serve as an inspiration to not only baseball fans, but to people in general.

1989 Bowman #9 Cal Ripken Jr Baseball Card

1989 Bowman #426 Barry Bonds

Estimated Tiffany PSA 10 Value: $25

Estimated Base PSA 10 Value: $15

Barry Bonds may have been the most gifted player to ever set foot on the field.

With 7 MVPs, 14 All-Star selections, 8 Gold Gloves, 12 Silver Sluggers and 2 batting titles...it's hard to argue against that claim.

However, we'll just never know how much of that was aided by his connection to PEDs.

Despite the controversy that surrounds him, Bonds is still popular among card collectors.

1989 Bowman #426 Barry Bonds Baseball Card

1989 Bowman Baseball Cards In Review

Overall, this set features a pretty decent checklist and a key rookie card in Griffey Jr.

And the Tiffany versions of these cards can add a bit of an added challenge in collecting high grade specimens given their relative scarcity.

One noticeable thing is that the set doesn't feature nearly as many subsets as others of the era outside of a small run of father/son cards (#258-261) and the standard checklist cards.

There were several reprint cards of Hall of Famers like Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Jackie Robinson and others inserted into packs, though.

While the hobby may have mixed opinions on this set, there's no doubting that it contains huge star power and a large amount of nostalgia.

Ross Uitts
 

Ross is the founder of Old Sports Cards and has been collecting sports cards for over 30 years. He also loves to write about the hobby and has written for Beckett, Topps, SABR and of course, this website. Need help buying or selling cards or have a general question about the hobby? Contact him at [email protected]

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