Barry Bonds rookie cards can be worth major money.
Barry Bonds still holds many MLB hitting records, including most career home runs (762), most home runs in a single season (73, set in 2001), and most career walks.
However, his role in the steroids scandal of 2007 had left an indelible mark on his legacy, and took him out of GOAT contention for some analysts. (That’s also why there’s no chance that he’ll enter the Hall of Fame anytime soon.)
Here’s what you need to know about the best Barry Bonds rookie cards to collect, with 10 top options from 1986 and 1987.
The Best Barry Bonds Rookie Cards to Collect
We’ve listed ten of the very best Barry Bonds rookie cards, from 1986 and 1987.
Unlike many others, Bonds’ cards from ‘87 sets are still seen as RCs by many collectors. (That’s because he was only included in 1986 update sets.)
10. 1986 Sportflics Rookies Barry Bonds RC #13 (eBay)
We’ll begin with a lesser-known option from 1986. The Sportflics Rookies set consists of 50 cards, including Barry Bonds.
The card uses three-phase animated imagery framed by a light blue border. It’s a look which is slightly dated by modern standards, but it’s a good way to show off both an action shot and a profile image. Cheap and abundant, you can expect to pick up PSA 10 copies for less than $100.
9. 1987 Classic Update Yellow Travel Edition Barry Bonds RC #113 (eBay)
The 1987 Classic Travel Update is another which is often disregarded in favor of more popular options. Released as part of an update to the 1987 Classic trivia board game, they were produced by Game Time, Ltd. and were made available in toy stores as well as from card dealers.
It’s thought that roughly a third of the 150,000 sets were printed in error sets as they had green backs instead of yellow backs. Centering is also particularly tough for the Bonds card from this set.
8. 1987 Topps Toys R Us Rookies Barry Bonds RC #4 (eBay)
Another unlikely source for a Barry Bonds rookie card comes from the 1987 Topps Toys R Us collection. Topps produced this 33-card boxed baseball set for the toy store, with their logo found at the top.
The set is subtitled “Baseball Rookies” and features a high-gloss, full-color photo of the player inside a black border. The reverse is orange and blue on white card stock. Gem mint copies are currently selling for roughly $300.
7. 1987 Donruss Opening Day Barry Bonds RC #163 (Error/Corrected) (eBay)
When Donruss initially released card #163 from the 1987 Opening Day set, it actually featured Pirates second baseman Johnny Ray rather than Barry Bonds.
The error card was hastily corrected, and it’s one of the more popular oddities for some collectors. (It’s certainly one of the more valuable Barry Bonds rookie cards.)
1987 Donruss Opening Day is otherwise unremarkable, featuring profile shots and a dark border.
6. 1987 Topps Tiffany Barry Bonds RC #320 (eBay)
The 1987 Topps Tiffany Barry Bonds rookie card is instantly recognizable thanks to the addition of a faux wood border. It features a great action shot of Bonds at the plate, swinging the bat with customary force.
The 1987 Tiffany release has a print run of about 30,000, which makes it one of the rarest Bonds RCs. That makes it another popular option with collectors, especially if it’s earned a 10 grade from the likes of PSA.
5. 1987 Fleer Baseball’s Hottest Stars Barry Bonds RC #5 (eBay)
Bonds was definitely one of ‘Baseball’s Hottest Stars’ when this collection came out back in 1987. It features a simple red, white, and blue border, with a side profile image of the legendary hitter.
1987 Fleer Baseball’s Hottest Stars is a little known set that was made exclusively for the Revco pharmacy chain. The 44-card collection was originally sold as a complete set, so it’s not the rarest by any means.
4. 1987 Fleer Glossy Barry Bonds RC #604 (eBay)
As the name suggests, 1987 Fleer Glossy Baseball is a collection that consists of 672 cards, improving on the base set by giving the cards a gloss finish.
Released as a competitor to Topps Tiffany, 1987 Fleer Glossy had an estimated print run of 100,000. Of course, this was a low number at the time, but it means that there are still lots of copies of this Barry Bonds RC as of 2022.
As with the others on this list, this means that only pristine graded versions are worth much. Take this PSA 9 copy, which recently sold for under $20.
3. 1986 Fleer Update Barry Bonds RC #U-14 (eBay)
The 1986 Fleer Update is a Barry Bonds rookie card that should be on your radar if you’re interested in options from the earlier update sets. The deep blue border makes it another condition-sensitive card to collect, and leads to a high price tag for pristine copies.
It features a simple action shot of Bonds in a batting pose.
2. 1986 Donruss The Rookies Barry Bonds RC #11 (eBay)
One of the more memorable Barry Bonds rookie cards, and another release from 1986, ‘The Rookies’ set featured a star-studded 56-player checklist. It used 1986 Donruss as the basis for the design, switching the background from blue to a lined green.
The collection failed to live up to the hype long-term, and the same is true for the Bonds RC. However, it’s still the most valuable card contained within the set if it’s in pristine condition.
1. 1986 Topps Traded Tiffany Barry Bonds RC #11T (eBay)
Our top pick as the best Barry Bonds rookie card to collect, the 1986 Topps Traded Tiffany release is one of the most famous cards from the era. The black, white and yellow design borrows heavily from his Pirates jersey, and it features a profile shot with a bat slung over one shoulder.
Hyper rare compared to the other Bonds RCs on this list, it’s thought that only 5,000 Tiffany versions were created for the ’86 Topps Traded set. It’s the most valuable option by a wide margin.
The Impact of Grading on Bonds’ Rookie Cards
Card grading plays a significant role in the value of any trading card. When it comes to Barry Bonds’ rookie cards, this is no exception. Grading can drastically impact a card’s worth, with cards rated Mint or Gem Mint often fetching far higher prices than those in merely Good or Fair condition. Professional grading services, such as PSA, BGS, and SGC, provide an expert assessment of a card’s condition and can help assure buyers of their investment’s quality.
The Market for Barry Bonds Cards
Analyzing market trends can help collectors and investors understand the potential value of Bonds’ rookie cards. Factors such as Bonds’ career achievements, his standing in public opinion, and even developments like induction into the Hall of Fame can affect the market value of his cards. Staying abreast of such trends and information is crucial for anyone looking to add Bonds’ rookie cards to their collection or investment portfolio.
Rarity and Popularity of Bonds’ Rookie Cards
While all of Bonds’ rookie cards carry a certain value due to his career achievements, some are more sought after due to their rarity or popularity among collectors. For example, the 1986 Topps Traded Tiffany card’s high-gloss finish and clearer photos make it a popular choice, while its limited production run increases its rarity and hence, its potential value.
Preservation and Care for Bonds’ Rookie Cards
Once you’ve added a Bonds rookie card to your collection, preserving its condition is key to maintaining its value. Proper storage in card sleeves or cases, away from direct sunlight and in a cool, dry environment, can help prevent damage and discoloration. Handling cards with clean hands, and as infrequently as possible, can also help maintain their condition.
These additional sections will give your readers a more comprehensive understanding of collecting Barry Bonds rookie cards, making the article more valuable and informative.
Barry Bonds Rookie Cards: Buyers Guide
Given the sheer number of cards printed, we’d stick with PSA 10 graded cards whenever possible if you’re buying as an investment.
(They’re the most popular grading company for Barry Bonds RCs.)
The Best Cheap Barry Bonds Rookie Cards
Base ungraded copies of many of the Barry Bonds RCs can be picked up for next to nothing. That’s due to the massive print runs seen towards the late 1980’s. The same is true for PSA 9 copies, as supply greatly outweighs demand.
The Best Barry Bonds Rookie Card Investment
The 1986 Topps Traded Tiffany would be our top pick as the best Barry Bonds rookie card investment. It has great eye-appeal, and it’s favored by the majority of high-end collectors.
Then there’s the 1987 Donruss Opening Day error card, which has proven to be a major hit. Either way, there are good options if you stick with pristine copies.
Barry Bonds Rookie Cards: Final Thoughts
Barry Bonds will always have a spot in the record books, as one of the best hitters ever in the sport. There will be an asterisk next to his name given the allegations of steroid use, but that seems like less of an issue than it was even a decade ago.
Then there’s the Hall of Fame. Bonds drew 66% of the vote in his 10th and final year on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot, falling well short of the 75% threshold needed for induction.