The Best Barry Bonds Rookie Cards
Barry Bonds was one of the most talented, and most divisive baseball players of his or any era. Who is Bonds? What’s up with Bonds and the Hall of Fame? And what are Barry Bonds rookie cards, and are they worth investing in?
Today we’ll explore Bonds and what the future may hold for him and his cards.
Who is Barry Bonds?
Barry Bonds is, quite simply, one of the best players in the history of the game. Of that there is little doubt. Unfortunately, Bonds is also something of a poster boy for the Steroid Era. We won’t go into detail here on the BALCO investigation, grand juries, and the like, but it’s not a pretty story.
Bonds was an amazing talent before steroids, but steroids helped him take his game to a new level, including playing at the top of his game long after most stars see their skills decline.
Bonds won a record seven MVP awards, including four after the age of 35. He was a 14-time All-Star, 12-time Silver Slugger winner, and won two batting titles. A complete player in his younger days, Bonds also won eight Gold Glove awards and stole over 500 bases in his career.
Oh yes, and he is also both the single-season home run leader, having hit 73 home runs in 2001 and the all-time career leader in home runs, with 762. He’s even the career leader in both walks and intentional walks.
Bonds and the Hall of Fame
As we discussed in our article Baseball Hall Of Fame: What Does The Future Hold For The PED Crowd And Their Cards? Bonds is not alone in PED purgatory.
Confirmed, or highly suspected PED use has to date kept players out of the Hall of Fame. Opinions are slowly changing in this regard. Last year, in Bonds’ last year on the BBWAA ballot, he got 66% of the vote. That’s well short of the 75% needed for election, but much higher than the 36% he debuted on the ballot with.
So, it seems that Bonds will eventually make the Hall of Fame, via the Contemporary Era Committee vote (or whatever eventually replaces it).
The 2023 Contemporary Baseball Era Hall of Fame ballot was announced on November 6th, 2022. Barry Bonds is on the ballot. We’ll find out on December 4th if this is the year for Bonds.
What is the best Barry Bonds rookie cards?
While less than 40 years old, Barry Bonds rookie cards are from a different time. Bonds first cards appeared in the year he made his major league debut. That’s right, no draft pick, pre-rookies, or even minor league cards.
According to the TCDB.com, he appeared in only six cards that first season. One of those was an unlicensed “Broder” card. Another was Sportflics, in all its “magic motion” glory. The other four we’ll explore in more detail below.
Bonds’ first appearances are in the traded/update sets in 1986, with his first pack-issued rookie cards coming the following year, in 1987. The 1987 cards are interesting, and we’ll discuss them below, but the 1986 offerings have stood the test of time as his rookie cards in the eye of the hobby.
Oh yeah, and it was the junk wax era, so when you see some PSA pop numbers with five digits, don’t be alarmed.
1986 Topps Traded Barry Bonds #11T
PSA has graded a whopping 55,196 copies of the 1986 Topps Traded Barry Bonds card. That represents a whopping 2/3 of all the cards graded by PSA in the Topps Traded set that year.
PSA has graded close to 5,000 of those Bonds cards as PSA 10’s, making it not a rare item. That being said, they have been strong sellers in the $300-350 range.
1986 Topps Traded Tiffany Barry Bonds #11T
Interested in the 1986 Topps Traded Barry Bonds but that massive PSA pop giving you pause? Check out the 1986 Topps Traded Tiffany set.
The print run of the Tiffany set in 1986 is reported to be only 5,000 sets. That means over half of all Bonds cards from the set have been graded by PSA. There were 444 PSA 10s at last count, and sells in the $5,600-8,000 range.
1986 Donruss Rookies Barry Bonds #11
The 1986 Donruss Rookies Barry Bonds #11 is Bonds’ most affordable 1986 update/traded rookie card, with a PSA 10 in the $140-250 range. Interestingly, it’s the lowest population of the non-Tiffany 1986 Bonds offerings.
1986 Fleer Update Barry Bonds #U-14
With less than half the PSA population of the Topps card, but a significantly higher population than the Donruss offering, the 1986 Fleer Update Barry Bonds #U-14 has the lowest number of PSA 10s of the non-Tiffany 1986 offerings.
Perhaps due to the lower population of PSA 10s, or perhaps just because Fleer was a bit harder to find that year, the Bonds is a strong seller in the $350-400 range in a PSA 10.
|Card||Total PSA Pop||Recent Sale Pop||Recent Sale Price|
|1986 Topps Traded Barry Bonds #11T||55,196||PSA 10 = 4,896||PSA 10 = $300-350|
|1986 Topps Traded Tiffany Barry Bonds #11T||2,605||PSA 10 = 444||PSA 10 = $5,600 – 8,000|
|1986 Donruss Rookies Barry Bonds #11||13,824||PSA 10 = 1,605||PSA 10 = $140-250|
|1986 Fleer Update Barry Bonds #U-14||22,566||PSA 10 = 1,369||PSA 10 = $350-400|
The Best Barry Bonds Cards from 1987
Since all of Bonds 1986 cards appear in Update/Traded sets, the 1987 products are technically his rookie cards based on the rules of the day. The market has spoken and the 1986 products are the higher priced, but the 1987 products remain popular.
1987 Barry Bonds Donruss rookie card #361
As with the 1986 products, the Donruss here is the most affordable option of the three major brands. It’s a good-looking card, so if you’re looking for value-priced Bonds to add to your collection, this is a good option.
1987 Barry Bonds Fleer rookie card #604
The 1987 Fleer Barry Bonds has the highest PSA population on the list, but the fewest PSA 10s. The fact that 10s are on the tougher side makes this the most expensive of the three base 1987 offerings.
1987 Barry Bonds Topps rookie card #320
Ah, the classic 1987 Topps design. The woodgrain borders have been popping up in a lot of modern inserts of late, and for good reason. It’s a great design. This one has the lowest PSA total pop of the three, but its PSA 10s fall right in the middle. It sells in the range of $165-275 in PSA 10.
|Card||Total PSA Pop||Recent Sale Pop||Recent Sale Price|
|1987 Donruss Barry Bonds #361||27,891||PSA 10 = 1,827||PSA 10 = $100-240|
|1987 Fleer Barry Bonds #604||28,166||PSA 10 = 1,266||PSA 10 = $200-275|
|1987 Topps Barry Bonds #320||21,150||PSA 10 = 1,519||PSA 10 = $165-275|
Beyond the basics, there are a number of other options for every taste. Oddball sets? Check out the 1987 Classic Barry Bonds #113. Love error cards? The 1987 Donruss Opening Day Barry Bonds #163 has both an error and a corrected version.
There are Tiffany and O-Pee-Chee versions of the Topps offering, and a Glossy version of the Fleer. There’s also a 1987 Fleer Hottest Stars Barry Bonds and a 1987 Topps Glossy Send-Off that are worth chasing.
Barry Bonds rookie card investment thoughts
So, now that we’ve explored Bonds rookie cards, what is the investment outlook on Bonds cards?
Collectors have known that Bonds is really good for a long time. This should come as no surprise. 20 seasons after Bonds’ retirement, there may not be a lot of upside in his rookie cards.
That being said, when he does eventually make the Hall of Fame, we can expect a bump in demand, if only temporarily. After that, prices will likely level out at or maybe just a hair above where they already are.
Bonds is a very divisive figure. While his election will sway some towards his cards, some will likely remain unconvinced that they should add a Bonds card to their collection.
Final thoughts on the best Barry Bonds rookie cards
Barry Bonds was a lot of things. Iconic. Divisive. Exceptional. A PED user. But he was one of the best players of his, or any era. And he’ll probably be a Hall of Famer, someday.
There is likely a place in every collection for a Bonds rookie card. Unless you don’t want one, of course. Collect what you like, and enjoy what you collect.