You ever want something so bad that you just know your life will change forever once you get it?

And then, once you do get it … meh?

Yeah, me, too.

And that’s pretty much what happened for collectors with 1989 Bowman baseball cards, too.

For years, we’d been clamoring for one of the major manufacturers to issue a set focusing on the player image and eschewing massive design elements.

At least some of us begged for a return to a more classic look, like we saw in those old 1950s Topps — or, *gasp* Bowman — cards.

Well, careful what you ask for, Skippy.

Because, as the hobby was booming and ready to boom more, Topps opened their vault in 1989 and dusted off the Bowman brand that they bought out in 1956.

And then they brought us a set with huge, clear images that were beautiful …

… but were also too big. As in oversize.

And that still had the soft old Topps cardstock.

And that seemed to exist in far larger quantities than anyone wanted.

*sigh*

Oh well … so 1989 Bowman was not a big hit. Never has been.

But it’s still chock full of superstars and big-name rookies, and that means there are some valuable cards tucked away in the albatross that no one knows how to store.

What follows, then, is a list of the 11 most valuable 1989 Bowman baseball cards as determined by actual eBay sales of PSA 10 graded copies of the cards in question.

Let’s dig in!

1989 Bowman Ken Griffey Jr. Rookie Card (#220)

1989 Bowman Ken Griffey Jr. Rookie Card (#220)

Everybody knows that Ken Griffey, Jr., rookie cards are just about the best thing going from the Junk Wax Era.

Heck, some might even say they’re the only things going from the Junk Wax Era (though plenty of Phil Plantier and Kevin Maas collectors would argue that point).

But when you think about Junior RCs, what comes to mind?

1989 Upper Deck #1, right?

Fleer and Donruss cards from the same year … maybe. Possibly a Topps Traded card here or there.

The truth is, though, that the 1989 Bowman Griffey is every bit as much a rookie card as the rest of those, and more so than some. Like the Upper Deck beauty, after all, the Bowman debut cardboard for Griffey comes in a debut for a brand, too (although technically a revival in this case).

Of course, 1989 Bowman is not Upper Deck.

While the Bowman revamp is clean and beautiful, its funky size, mushy cardstock, and perceived lack of scarcity have blunted its popularity over the years.

Still, a Griffey rookie is a Griffey rookie, and condition issues have limited the population of PSA 10s to less than 2000 copies.

As such, you can expect to pay a couple hundred bucks for a “perfect” copy and $20 or more for a PSA 9.

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1989 Bowman John Smoltz (#266)

1989 Bowman John Smoltz (#266)

John Smoltz was not yet a household name in 1989, and his Atlanta Braves were going nowhere fast.

Except they were, sort of.

I mean, even then, folks thought Smoltz had great potential, and it would only be a couple of years before the Braves staged one of the most dramatic Octobers in recent(ish) memory before bowing to the Minnesota Twins in the 1991 World Series.

By then, Smoltz was starting to hit his stride and would of course go on to craft a Hall of Fame career as a starter and reliever.

For his efforts, his 1989 Bowman checks in around $20 in PSA 10.

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1989 Bowman Bo Jackson (#126)

1989 Bowman Bo Jackson (#126)

Was there anybody in baseball hotter than Bo Jackson in the late 1980s?

On the field … maybe.

In our imaginations and wax packs?

Hardly anyone could touch the two-sport star and Heisman Trophy winner.

While Bo’s NFL career was cut way short by the same hip injury that also curtailed his baseball development and left him shy of the legendary numbers we all thought he might put up, his personal legend just won’t fade.

As such, the 1989 Bowman Jackson fetches $20-30 in GEM-MT condition on eBay.

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1989 Bowman Gary Sheffield Rookie Card (#142)

1989 Bowman Gary Sheffield Rookie Card (#142)

Gary Sheffield first came into public view in the late 1980s as the wunderkind nephew of Dwight Gooden, who was going to be the next great Willie May/Mickey Mantle/Ozzie Smith/Rickey Henderson hybrid.

A few tepid (generous) seasons for the Milwaukee Brewers and some personality/behavioral red flags later, though, and Sheffield was a bust.

Then he went to the San Diego Padres, and things started to look up.

Then he became a full-fledged superstar with the Florida Marlins and the Los Angeles Dodgers before late-career dalliances with the New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers were sullied by whispers about steroids.

No matter what you think of him personally, though, dude was super talented and wound up with 509 home runs among his nearly 2700 career hits.

Throw in 250+ stolen bases, and it’s not hard to see why Sheffield’s Bowman rookie might fetch $10-20 even if his road to the Hall of Fame seems impassable at this point.

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1989 Bowman Barry Bonds (#426)

1989 Bowman Barry Bonds (#426)

Everybody hates Barry Bonds because he’s surly, maybe/probably took steroids or other PDEs, broke records that rightfully belong to Hank Aaron and Roger Maris or Babe Ruth (or Mark McGwire, but he can’t have it either).

Oh, and Bonds did stuff in the 2000s that no one has ever done before and may never do again.

Even with all the vitriol surrounding him, it’s hard for Bonds to totally escape the accoutrements that come with being maybe the best hitter ever.

Like, for example, a $10-15 price tag for an oversize card — that also no one likes — that isn’t his rookie card and is not from his most monstrous seasons.

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1989 Bowman Robin Ventura Rookie Card (#65)

1989 Bowman Robin Ventura Rookie Card

Robin Ventura was once an Olympian, and he once got the doo-doo beat out of him by Nolan Ryan for charging the mound on the old man.

But Ventura also sort of quietly put together a really good career as a first and third baseman for the Chicago White Sox and New York Mets (along with a couple of others) that leaves him sort of in the Cooperstown parking lot.

All of which is good enough to hold his 1989 Bowman rookie card at $5-10 in PSA 10 all these years later.

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1989 Bowman Nolan Ryan (#225)

1989 Bowman Nolan Ryan (#225)

Nolan Ryan did a whole lot more on Major League mounds than just pound Robin Ventura’s face, of course.

But you know all about his 50,000 strikeouts, 123 no-hitters, and 300-mile-an-hour fastball, so I won’t belabor those points.

Just suffice it to say that Ryan is pretty much a lock to appear in the “most valuable” list for any set he graces.

Here, he checks in at $15-20 in perfect condition.

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1989 Bowman Roger Clemens (#26)

1989 Bowman Roger Clemens (#26)

Roger Clemens is sort of like the son of Nolan Ryan and Barry Bonds — totally dominant on the mound to an extent we rarely if ever see, but a pariah because of PED talk and general personality funkiness.

In 1989, Clemens was coming off his first non-Cy Young season since 1985, and it would take another year before he was a monster again.

Even so, he was super popular in the hobby as baseball’s premier power pitcher, and enough luster remains that his ’89 Bowman is about a $10 card in PSA 10.

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1989 Bowman Don Mattingly (#176)

1989 Bowman Don Mattingly (#176)

Even though Don Mattingly’s performance was sliding as the 1980s waned, due to a bad back that would eventually end his career, none of us could let go.

This was Donnie Baseball, the unquestioned superstar of our era, and the man who completely reshaped the hobby with his 1984 Donruss rookie card.

He’d come back.

He’d be better than ever.

He’d lead the Yankees to a championship.

He was a surefire Hall of Famer.

He wasn’t .

But Mattingly’s cards will never die, and his 1989 Bowman in a $15-20 item in PSA 10.

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1989 Bowman Roberto Alomar (#458)

1989 Bowman Roberto Alomar (#458)

We all thought both Sandy Alomar, Jr., and Roberto Alomar had a chance to be pretty special players.

You know, based on scouting reports and bloodlines.

Sandy eventually won the 1990 AL Rookie of the Year award for the Cleveland Indians, but it was Robbie who had the staying power to craft a Hall of Fame career.

Along the way, he also pulled in a couple of World Series rings with the Toronto Blue Jays and was a cog in some pretty darn good Indians and Baltimore Orioles teams.

Alomar’s 1989 Bowman card, a second-year offering, sells for $10-20 when pristine.

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1989 Bowman Ken Griffey Father and Son (#259)

1989 Bowman Ken Griffey Jr. Sr.

Quick!

Which 1989 set features two Ken Griffey Jr. rookie cards?

Since you’re reading an article about 1989 Bowman, you might figure that 1989 Bowman would be a pretty safe guess.

And you’d be right.

Sort of, at least.

There on card #259, Bowman (via Topps) treated collectors to a big image of Ken Griffey Sr. glaring over his right shoulder at a smaller, hands-on-knees Junior.

All inside a very-80s CRT television.

All inside a very thick white border.

It’s hideous and yet somehow gorgeous.

And … you will pay $15-20 for the privilege of owning his hunk of befuddling cardboard.

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1989 Bowman Baseball Wax Box 36 Packs (3 available) GRIFFEY JR RC 30 years old

$18.50
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1989 Bowman Baseball Hobby Box 36 Pack Gem Original FASC

$26.85
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1989 BOWMAN BASEBALL # 220 KEN GRIFFEY JR. PSA 9 MINT

$16.00
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1989 Bowman Baseball Pack

$4.00
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