The 2013 Bowman Chrome Kris Bryant autograph does exist. The card's existence, at least the Superfractor, was teased last fall but then it never showed up. Until now. The card is a surprise addition to 2014 Bowman Inception Baseball that didn't take long to surface and find their way to eBay.
Kris Bryant himself dubbed it his "first professional baseball card." Last October, the super prospect tweeted out a picture of a yet unsigned 2013 Bowman Chrome Superfractor. It seemed like a fairly safe assumption that it would be part of 2013 Bowman Draft. However, when the product arrived, his only signed cards were an extremely rare Bowman Black card and an AFLAC autograph.
First professional baseball card! Thank you topps!! pic.twitter.com/TNAXb2U1d2
— Kris Bryant (@KrisBryant_23) October 10, 2013
It's still early to know exactly how rare the card is, although it's not looking to be an extremely tough find. And while no Refractors have shown up, it doesn't mean that they're not in there.
So is it a 2013 card or a 2014 card? Chances are, in the days, months and years ahead, you're going to hear people argue for both sides. While it looks as though it was signed early on, it's part of a 2014 release. In some ways, it's similar to AFLAC Autographs that are often signed years earlier and tucked away. But ultimately, they're accepted as a card from the year they're released in.
But on the other hand, the 2013 Bowman Chrome Draft Kris Bryant autograph is different. It wasn't tucked away until he turned pro. It's a card that was made after he was draft and signed with the Cubs.
For some collectors, the may see a historical side to the earlier signature. Some may view the card as his first Bowman Chrome Autograph despite the fact it came after his card in 2014 Bowman Baseball. Others may simply lump it in with all of Bryant's other 2014 cards and a surprise bonus in 2014 Bowman Inception.
There are other precedents that are similar in some recent sets. For the past couple of years, Upper Deck has been opting to avoid redemptions and include late autographs in future products. 2013-14 SP Authentic Hockey has an abundance of these. 2013-14 Panini Contenders Hockey is another set that has a fair number. With these, though, they don't carry the clout of a baseball player's first Bowman Chrome Autograph though. And they're often veterans and not big-time prospects that have a knack for the long ball.
Was the card returned too late for inclusion in 2013 Bowman Draft? Was it intentionally held back for 2014? If so, why? We've reached out to Topps to see if we can get some answers and will post an update if we hear back.
It may be worth noting that the Bowman Chrome autograph was never promoted as being part of 2013 Bowman Draft or put on a checklist, preliminary or final. Had it not been for Bryant's tweet, many might not have know it even existed.
These aren't the only Kris Bryant autographs in 2014 Bowman Inception. He also has a regular Inception Prospect Autograph, several autographed relics and a handful of other signed cards.
In the meantime, what are your thoughts on the card surfacing now? Better late than never? Does it get the prestige of being a first Bowman Chrome Autograph? Are you disgusted or delighted? Let us know in the comments below.
UPDATE: The 2013 Bowman Chrome Kris Bryant autograph was also a surprise inclusion in 2014 Bowman Platinum Baseball.