Featured Cards: 2002 Topps Coaches Collection #CC-LB; 2013 Panini America’s Pastime Pastime Signatures #LB; 2013 Topps Chasing History Autographs (redemption card) #CHA-LB
Certain retired Phillies have become baseball card mainstays over the 15 years: in particular, the big five HOFers, Greg Luzinski, John Kruk, and, to a lesser degree, Darren Daulton. However, thanks to his long, though not continuous, association with club, Bowa has been something of a mainstay as well — at least, that’s true thanks to the numerous team-issued offerings over the years. Since his retirement as a player following the 1985 season, there have only been 10 different years that did not witness at least one new Bowa Phillies card. Amazingly, 2013 — a year following a seven-year stretch in which Bowa appeared on just one card as a Phillie — became the year that saw the most Bowa Phillies cards since the mid ’70s.
If you had asked me before the release of the first 2013 sets which retired Phillie — outside of the usual, aforementioned individuals — would receive the most cards this year, I would not have mentioned Bowa. Hell, he wouldn’t have even been on my radar. I’m certain I would’ve chosen Curt Schilling (who did get lots of love from Panini in 2013, but not as a Phillie), Dick Allen (who, interestingly, has not appeared on a card since 2010), or maybe even Lenny Dykstra (who has received plenty of Phillies cards in his retirement, but not very many in the past few years). Yet, when 2013 closed, Bowa received the fourth most cards over any retired Phillie, following only Mike Schmidt, Steve Carlton, & Kruk.
Even more amazingly, after previously receiving his sole autograph card back in 2001, Bowa appeared on eight different autograph issues in 2013. Actually, not counting printing plates and parallels, he only appeared on two other cards over the course of the year. Nonetheless, it was a veritable glut of new material after what really was the longest dry spell of his career, at least as far as Phillie collectors are concerned. And if you were someone who collected all of Bowa’s cards, then 2013 was even better in that he also appeared in special Topps Archives set made available only to Cubs season ticket holders.
Bowa will be back with the club as a coach for the coming season. This guarantees at least one more Bowa card in a Phillies team-issued set. It will be interesting to see if whether Topps and Panini continue issuing additional Bowa cards or 2013 was just an unusual blip in regards to Bowa baseball cards.