The GOAT’s 1st Bowman
Flashback almost thirty years when a young high school catcher was making a name for himself on the baseball diamond.
During his prep days, he posted a .311 batting average with eight home runs from his easy left-handed swing. This guy was a three-sport athlete at Junipero Serra High School in San Mateo, California.
Even though he was a standout high school quarterback with a full-ride scholarship to the University of Michigan, the Montreal Expos decided to take a chance and pick him in the 18th round of the 1995 MLB Draft.
Tom Brady had a choice to make: ink a professional baseball contract or honor his national letter of intent he had signed to play college football?
Everyone knows what direction Brady went. And after winning an NFL-record seven Super Bowl titles and five Super Bowl MVP awards, it’s safe to say he made the correct decision to play on the gridiron.
But what if Brady had pursued baseball?
That’s the million-dollar question.
Playing off that “What if?” scenario, Topps is releasing Brady’s first official card. Coming out on December 12 — or 12/12, also known as Brady Day — the card is in 2023 Bowman Draft Baseball.
The 2023 Bowman Draft baseball set includes base cards of Brady and features 81 numbered, autographed cards of the legendary quarterback. Autographed variations consist of gold out of /50, orange out of /25, red out of /5, and a 1-of-1 Superfractor.
“It’s going to be a huge chase card for the product,” said Topps Brand Manager Coby Kerr, who helped design the Brady card. “It’s going to be truly unique. There’s never going to be another Bowman Brady card. So, like any 1st Bowman card, this is Tom Brady’s 1st Bowman. Just like Ohtani’s, just like Trout’s 1st Bowman — this is how Brady’s card is going to be treated, and it will have a major impact.
Brady had a little fun with the on-card autos and added inscriptions on two of the parallels. Both are No. 12 cards — the jersey number Brady wore for all 23 years he played in the NFL.
On the orange parallel numbered 12/25, underneath Brady’s signature, he wrote, “Allons Aux Expos!” That French inscription loosely translates to, “Let’s go Expos!” The gold parallel 12/50 features the inscription, “If baseball doesn’t work out there’s always football.”
Kerr believes the Superfractor will be more popular and have a higher value than one of the inscription Brady cards.
“I think nothing beats a Superfractor, whether it would be an inscription or whatever,” Kerr said. “The Superfractor is truly the 1-of-1 rookie 1st Bowman card that collectors go after in any Bowman product.”
Along with the Brady autographed cards, there are non-auto refractor parallels. They include aqua lava to /199, blue to /150, green to /99, yellow lava to /75, gold to /50, orange to /25, red to /5, and a Superfractor.
Making of the Brady 1st Bowman
Topps came up with the idea of a Dream Draft Picks insert, and there isn’t any better player to feature than Brady.
The card uses the 1995 Bowman design where Brady has on a catcher’s mitt and is wearing an Expos uniform and cap.
A headshot of a 17-year-old Brady from when he was playing high school baseball just before being drafted was used for the card. That photo was superimposed onto an Expos uniform.
“There really aren’t any images of Brady in a full Montreal Expos uniform,” Kerr said. “Like any other Bowman prospect, we retouched him to make it look nice.
“We wanted to make this card as unique as possible to when he was drafted. For example, we use an image of Brady from ’95. The back content talks to it, covering his scouting report up to when he was drafted and before all the football came into play. The back has a true scouting report like all the other draft picks in the product.”
During the process, Kerr was in charge of making sure the facts on the back of the Brady card were accurate. The scouting report has three sections — resume, skills, and up close — that detail Brady as a baseball player. The report cites that Brady has a “well above-average arm” and an “impeccable work ethic.” Both those traits carried over to the football field.
“Everybody’s going to want to know, ‘Where can we get this card?'” Kerr said. “It’s going to really drive eyes to this product and to the card.”
And the product isn’t just about the Brady cards.
According to Kerr, the Bowman Draft checklist is filled with 1st Bowman base cards and autographs of the top picks of the 2023 MLB Draft. Some of the big names include Paul Skenes, Max Clark, Wyatt Langford, Jacob Wilson, Tommy Troy, and Jacob Gonzales. The product also has autographs of some of the game’s top prospects, including Jackson Holliday, Druw Jones, Ethan Salas, and Jackson Chourio.
“The autograph checklist features 74 position players, making this one of the strongest draft checklists ever released,” Kerr said.