Collectors weren’t really sure what to expect from 1992 Bowman baseball cards, but we had a better idea than we’d had entering 1991.

See, when Topps first resurrected the Bowman brand back in 1989, they went with a clean design and an oversize cardstock that definitely harkened back to an earlier era.

But collector reception to the “big” cards was lukewarm, so Topps returned to their standard 2-1/2″ x 3-1/2″ dimensions for 1990 Bowman.

Still, player selection was about what you’d have expected from a large(ish) checklist — plenty of stars, some rookie cards, and a preponderance of commons.

In 1991, Topps stuck with that formula but infused Bowman with some foil stamps and an even stronger run of rookies.

Then, in 1992, Topps finally ditched its mushy brown cardstock for a more premium white medium for its base set, and the stage was set for Bowman.

Sure enough, when Bowman rolled out later in the year, it was blazing white, just like the main Topps set, and it showcased more rookies — and pre-rookies — than ever before.

In the years that followed, Bowman became the place to find baseball rookies, and that’s a trend that continues to this day.

All of which makes 1992 Bowman a sort of landmark set, even though it’s not scarce by any means and certainly falls within the heart of the vaunted/hated/maligned Junk Wax Era.

Still, will all those rookies and all those years in between, this set offers up something for everyone, and even holds some value.

Here then, are the ten most valuable 1992 Bowman baseball cards in PSA 9 condition, as determined from recent eBay sales.

(Note: The following sections contain affiliate links to card listings on Amazon and eBay.)

1992 Bowman Mariano Rivera (#302)

1992 Bowman Mariano Rivera

Rivera looks anything but intimidating in this preppy shot, but that slender build and relaxed right arm were already mowing down minor league hitters when this card hit the hobby.

Within three years, Mo would debut in the Bronx, and his excellent showing as a super setup man (to John Wetteland) in 1996 helped the Yankees win their first World Series in a generation.

Rivera moved into the closer role the next year and stayed there for the another 15+ seasons.

Along the way to the first-ever unanimous Hall of Fame election, Rivera predictably became a hobby favorite, and his 1992 Bowman rookie card checks in north of $125 in PSA 9 condition these days.

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1992 Bowman Mike Piazza (#461)

1992 Bowman Mike Piazza

Piazza’s story has been told countless times through the years, but it bears repeating that the catcher worked his way up from a 62nd-round selection in the 1988 draft to standing on the brink of a Major League roster spot as the 1992 season dawned.

Sure, his initial selection may have been a favor to family friend Tommy Lasorda, but Piazza did the on-field (and off-field) work his self, breaking out with 29 home runs and 80 RBI for the high-A Bakersfield Dodgers in 1991.

That performance got him a promotion to Double-A to start 1992, and also a spot in Bowman’s revamped, rookie-focused 1992 set.

When Piazza broke into the majors for good in 1993 with one of the best offensive showings by a catcher in recent memory, this card took off and never really looked back as Piazza marched toward Cooperstown.

Today, Piazza’s Bowman RC is about a $40 buy in graded mint condition.

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1992 Bowman Trevor Hoffman (#11)

1992 Bowman Trevor Hoffman Rookie Card

When you think about Trevor Hoffman, the Cincinnati Reds are probably just about the last team to come to mind.

After all, everybody knows the future Hall of Famer got started with the Florida Marlins before making his hay with the San Diego Padres.

Truth is, though, Hoffman was the Reds’ 11th-round draft pick in 1989 before they left him unprotected for the 1992 expansion draft.

That’s when Florida came calling.

Halfway through that inaugural season for the Marlins (1993), they included Hoffman in the deal that brought Gary Sheffield to Miami, and the Padres shifted him to closer the next season.

The rest is Hall of Fame history, even if Hoffman’s rookie card tells a different story.

This unexpected RC fetches $30-35 in PSA 9 today.

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1992 Bowman Pedro Martinez (#82)

By 1992, Martinez was the ace of the Los Angeles Dodgers rotation — Ramon Martinez, that is.

There was hope among Dodgers faithful and rookie card speculators that younger brother Pedro could eventually approximate his sibling’s early success, but the younger Martinez’s slight frame caused some to worry.

As it turned out, that concern was valid, as Pedro had some trouble staying on the field, especially from his late 20s on. In 2000, at age 28, he dropped to 29 starts and 186.2 innings pitched, and he saw 30 starts just three more times.

Still, that 2000 season produced his third and final Cy Young Award, and Pedro went on to remain one of greatest pitchers overall in the game through the middle of the decade.

And, while Martinez appeared in the late-season sets in 1991, this is his first Bowman card. As such, it’s about a $20 buy in PSA 9 condition.

(Check out our full post on Pedro Martinez rookie cards.)

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1992 Bowman Cal Ripken Jr.(#400)

1992 Bowman Cal Ripken Jr.

Ripken was nowhere near being a rookie entering 1992, but he was coming off arguably his finest overall season in 1991, a stellar .323/34 HR/114 RBI performance that netted Cal his second American League MVP award (1983 was the first).

It was also a “take that” sort of statement to critics who insisted that Ripken’s dogged pursuit of Lou Gehrig‘s record for consecutive games was sapping his numbers and cheating the Orioles of a better fate.

His point made to the tune of 11.5 WAR in ’91, Ripken trained his sights on the finish line, which he’d cross in 1995.

In between, Cal was always among the top few names in the hobby, and much of that shine remains today.

This 1992 Bowman Ripken sells in the $15-20 range when slabbed in mint condition.

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1992 Bowman Kenny Lofton (#110)

1992 Bowman Kenny Lofton

After coming over from the Houston Astros in a December 1991 trade, Lofton settled in to centerfield for the Cleveland Indians and set about setting the table for a franchise turnaround.

Indeed, by 1995, the Indians were in the World Series and Lofton was a four-time base-stealing champ, three-time Gold Glove winner, and two-time All-Star.

Though Lofton left town after the 1996 season, he would be back twice more before his 17-year career came to a conclusion in 2007, and he would continue to ignite offenses on the field. In all, Lofton played for 11 different teams.

Lofton hung up his spikes with more than 2400 hits, more than 600 stolen bases, and a solid case for Hall of Fame enshrinement.

That may still happen thanks to the Eras Committees, and, if it does, today’s $15-20 price tag for this 1992 Bowman card will look pretty attractive. (Note: Lofton appeared as an Astro in the 1991 Bowman set.)

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1992 Bowman Chipper Jones (#28)

Even though this card gives Jones the same prepster treatment that Rivera got, Chipper actually ran the rookie card gamut in 1991 … and that included a Bowman RC.

Still, this is an early-career card of a Hall of Famer, one of the ten or so greatest third basemen ever, and it certainly catches your eye — good or bad.

Little surprise, then, that Chipper checks in here at around $15 in PSA 9 condition.

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1992 Bowman Frank Thomas Foil (#551)

1992 Bowman Frank Thomas Foil

By 1992 , the Big Hurt had one monster season under his belt and was looking like he had the goods to rewrite wide swaths of the record book.

With his unmatched (at the time) combination of a high batting average, huge on-base numbers, and big power, Thomas was an instant hobby hit.

It was no surprise, then, when Topps chose Thomas as one of 45 players in the 705-card 1992 Bowman issue to be featured on gold-foil-bordered parallels. Big Frank was also among a group of 18 whose gold version was half-printed compared to the rest of the golds, which were inserted in wax packs and certain boxes of the product.

Though Thomas cooled down later in his career, he was an easy Hall of Fame choice, and his 1992 Bowman Gold is a $10-15 card in PSA 9 these days.

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1992 Bowman Ken Griffey Jr.(#100)

The hobby and the game were just waiting for Griffey to explode as 1992 dawned.

Fresh off his first 100-RBI season and showing flashes of the speed and power that had had pundits predicting greatness for him since he was a kid (the bloodlines didn’t hurt, either), The Kid was already a hobby star.

That summer of 1992 would be another all-around All-Star season, and when the power arrived in 1993, Junior’s cards blasted off from their already lofty positions.

This fourth-year Griffey was a popular pull from the get-go and today trades for $10-15 in PSA 9 condition.

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1992 Bowman Manny Ramirez (#532)

1992 Bowman Manny Ramirez

Another preppy card, this is one of several Manny rookie cards issued during 1992.

A dozen years later, Ramirez RCs were among the most popular in the hobby after he helped the Boston Red Sox win a World Series title and as he started piling up career numbers that would surely lead him to Cooperstown.

Alas, as with so many other big names of the era, Ramirez stepped knee-deep into the PED quagmire, and left his Hall of Fame hopes hanging by a thread.

Still, enough fans and collectors remember the good times to make this about a $10 card in PSA 9 condition.

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