There may not be a modern athlete in any sport as polarizing as Barry Bonds. Adored by his home fans in San Francisco, the brash, outspoken outfielder is jeered by many other MLB fans. Despite the controversy that always seems to hang over him like a dark cloud, Bonds is a singular talent that has had an unquestionable Hall of Fame career.
The son of former MLB All-Star Bobby Bonds, Barry began his career in 1986 with the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he quickly became known for his varied array of skills. He could hit for average and power, had a good glove and flashed enough speed to steal bases. Bonds put all of his abilities together in 1990, when he hit .301 with 33 home runs and 52 stolen bases to capture his first National League MVP award.
After departing the Pirates for the Giants in 1993, Bonds pulled off an even more impressive accomplishment during the 1996 season, when he became the first NL member of the 40-40 Club - 40 home runs and 40 stolen bases. As he aged, Bonds' speed declined, but his power surged. His home run prowess peaked in 2001, when he broke the major league record with 73 round-trippers.
Any other player who had racked up Bonds' numbers would be the most celebrated - and most collected - player in MLB history. But Bonds' combative personality and continuous clashes with the media have often cast him in the villain role, and the unapologetic slugger doesn't seem to care. Add in the allegations of steroid use which have dogged him since his home run totals began to rise and you have a less than ideal climate for Bonds cards and collectibles.
Despite those factors, many collectors have held onto Bonds' 1987 rookie cards anticipating the day that he breaks Hank Aaron's career HR record. His trio of first-year cards stands to gain in value as his career winds down even though they are relatively easy to find. Of the three, his Fleer # 604 is the most valuable, but his Topps # 320 may have the most room to grow.
It's also important to note that Bonds has several cards from 1986 products which don't fit the widely accepted rookie card definition, but are still worth seeking out. These include his 1986 Donruss Rookies # 11, his Fleer Update # 14 and his Topps Traded # 11T.
Barry Bonds 1987 Rookie Cards
- Donruss # 361
- Fleer # 604
- Topps # 320