What Different Types of Baseball Card Inserts are there?

When you first start out collecting you realize that autographs and relics (a piece of a bat or jersey from a player) are the norm. Back in my hey day, the early 90’s, they didn’t exist. To get an autograph in a pack of cards would be some crazy feat. It was for dealers who opened up cases and not mere peasants such as myself. Truthfully outside of Upper Deck I don’t ever remember hearing about an autograph in a wax box. Also, chasing the rainbow doesn’t mean wearing your most fanciest hat and joining a pride parade. What am I even talking about? I will get to what that means later on. So after the parade where do you start?

What are all these different inserts, parallels, printing plates, yes the actual printing plates they used to create that cards, mean? I will break it down for you. If you want to be honest I would have thought that a game used bat on a card would be more valuable then an autograph, but the baseball world doesn’t think so. At this point no one even cares about relics, with regards to resale value. Autographs and scarcity is what they truly care about. Autographs with a jersey patch is even better! However, I will start with 2018 Bowman cards. The rest of the brands follow suit more or less. 


You can buy bowman cards in packs, blasters (retail only), hobby box, and jumbo boxes. Within these sets they have color coded system which indicates cards scarcity. Which is what collecting the rainbow means. You first have the standard bowman card or what people call paper cards. These are cards that are regular run of the mill cards. Now with these cards they can come in the following colors sky blue, purple, blue, green (retail), sparkle, gold, orange (hobby only), red, platinum, and printing plates. Each of these colors indicate the number of cards produced of each card. If it’s sky blue they made 499 of these. That’s it. No more that 499. Purple 250, Blue 150, Green 99, Gold is 50, Orange is 25, Red is 5, and 1/1 platinum is just that, 1 card was made like that. Now when you have the card in your hand and you see a purple card it will also have the specific card out of /250, so it would say 5/250. This will follow suit for all of the cards. Just a note each year Bowman will change colors slightly or may add colors, even the amount of cards may change a little. But it will always state how many of each card was made on the card.


Next, you will have Bowman Chrome cards these cards will say chrome on them and they have a different feel to them. They are very shiny and look nicer. They have the same color coded system as stated above. However, the chrome cards have a refractor and /499 version as well. The refractor will look shinier, more colors will come off of them when light is directly on them. It will also say refractor on the back of the card. 


Now each one of these has an autograph version of the same cards discussed. With the chrome version being worth more money then the paper counter parts. These are the cards that are collectible and more desirable. Some of these cards are extremely expensive especially the top prospects. We are talking about prices in the thousands for players who haven’t played an inning in the majors. Yea that makes sense.

Just to make it fun they also have a mojo and shimmer version of bowman cards. They don’t sell for as much as the solid colors. They usually follow suit and have a blue, purple, orange, red, etc. Some of these cards look real nice. The one to the left is a shimmer and the one to the right is mojo.

The next couple are not from Bowman. Some sets have their own inserts or parallels. Below is a sepia refractor. This is included in Topps Chrome Set.

Below are two jersey patches – Immaculate Collection on the left and Museum Collection on the right.

The next card is an Auto Relic card. It’s an autograph and either a piece of jersey or bat. This is a 2019 Topps Musuem Collection.

Here are two relic cards. One with a bat. The Donruss elite, no logo, looks really nice if you can get over the no logo thing. The one to the right is 2019 Topps Diamond Icon, the boxes are extremely expensive $1,650 for a box! This card has a piece of his cleat!

Hopefully this gives you a good taste of all the different inserts that are out there. Yes, if you are getting back into collecting this is a daunting task. But I think adding these has really pushed collecting and the hobby in general into a much better position from when I was collecting in the late 80’s, early 90’s. Enjoy!

One thought on “What Different Types of Baseball Card Inserts are there?”

  1. I’ve been watching a ton of videos on YouTube for the last month, I have really gotten learning as much as I can. I haven’t purchased anything new, but the videos and podcasts your put out are a huge help!

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