Barry Bonds Rookie Cards – The Best, Rarest And Most Valuable

August 13, 2023

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barry bonds

Barry Bonds was THE best baseball player of his era; however, his career was stained by steroid allegations. 

Collectors bid up Barry Bonds rookie cards on hopes of him earning induction to the Hall of Fame in 2022, but that didn't happen. 

Bonds still has an outside shot at getting to the Hall in the coming years, so collectors might be wise to consider Bonds rookie cards as an investment.

The challenge for collectors is that card makers produced his baseball cards in massive quantities. 

But some of Bonds rarer and most valuable rookie cards from 1986 and 1987, especially in top condition, might be worth another look.

This buying guide will help you determine what Barry Bonds rookie cards to invest in.

As always, if you have any questions, shoot me an email at chris@allvintagecards.com.

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What Year Are Barry Bonds Rookie Cards?

Barry Bonds' first major league baseball cards were released in 1986 via late season update sets from the big card manufacturers.  

These included the 1986 Topps Traded, 1986 Fleer Update, and 1986 Donruss Rookies sets.  

Bonds first rookie cards that were a part of complete sets and sold via wax packs came from Topps, Fleer and Donruss in 1987

Bonds 1986 Fleer Update card is technically considered his 'Extended Rookie Card' or XRC

Many collectors refer to the 1986 Barry Bonds baseball cards as his Extended Rookie Cards (or XRC for short), a term in the 1980s given to early-release rookie cards not issued in packs.  

A similar story to the 1985 Star Michael Jordan #101 card which is probably the most famous 'Extended Rookie Card'.   

Thus, while the 1986 Bonds cards carry more value due to relative scarcity, his 1987 major issue baseball cards are considered his true 'rookie cards'

Our Picks For The Best Barry Bonds Rookie Card

fleer-glossy-bonds

Best Overall Value
1987 Fleer Glossy

Best Overall Design
1986 Fleer Update

opc-bonds-rookie

Best Investment 1987 OPC

The Top Barry Bonds Rookie Cards

Here we examine all Barry Bonds rookie cards, looking at his 1986 Extended Rookie Cards and his true 1987 major release rookie cards.

This was the junk era, so for many of his rookies, the investment potential is limited.  
For each, we assign an 'Investment Potential' score from zero to ten. This is a relative ranking among all Bonds rookie cards and not an opinion on whether someone should buy the card. 

Here are our final rankings. Investment Potential rankings are based on our long term opinion regarding PSA 10 graded cards of each card.

1.  1987 Topps OPC #320 - 8.5 out of 10
2.  1986 Fleer Update #14 - 8.5 out of 10
3.  1987 Fleer Glossy #604 - 8.5 out of 10
4.  1986 Topps Traded Tiffany #11T - 8 out of 10
5.  1986 Donruss Rookies #11 - 7.5 out of 10
6.  1986 Topps Traded #11T - 7 out of 10
7.  1987 Topps Tiffany #320 - 7 out of 10
8.   1987 Fleer #604 - 7 out of 10
9.   1987 Donruss #361 - 6.5 out of 10
10.  1987 Topps #320 - 6 out of 10
11.  1986 Sportflics #13 - 5.5 out of 10
12.  1987 Toysrus #4 - 5.5 out of 10
13.  1987 Classic Travel #113 - 5 out of 10
14.  1987 Opening Day #163 - 4.5 out of 10

1. 1987 Topps O-Pee-Cee (OPC) Barry Bonds (RC) #320 

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $15,000

Investment Potential: 8.5 out of 10

opc-bonds-rookie

One of three variations from the 1987 Topps baseball card set, OPC cards were sold in the Canadian market and are much rarer than the Topps or Topps Tiffany cards.

The OPC card has the same exact design and wood grain borders as the regular Topps issue with some minor differences. First, the O-Pee-Chee logo replaces 'Topps' in the bottom left hand corner. In addition, the back of the OPC rookie has text in French and English. 

Only ~1000 PSA graded 1987 OPC Barry Bonds rookies exist, with less than 40 earning a Gem Mint grade (or PSA 10).  

bonds-opc-psa

1987 OPC Bonds Rookie Population Data from PSA, over 1000 have been graded, however only 40 or so in PSA 10 grade. 

Ultimately, I believe high grade OPC Bonds rookie cards are among the best investments for all his rookie cards. However, sales of a PSA 10 copy of Bonds OPC rookie card have reached $20K. The OPC Bonds rookie card in PSA 10 grade is the most expensive Barry Bonds rookie card. 

2. 1986 Fleer Update Barry Bonds (RC) #14

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $400

Investment Potential: 8.5 out of 10

Also issued in a small box, similar to the Donruss Rookies sets, the 1986 Fleer Update Barry Bonds card actually has a much larger population--over 20K PSA graded cards exist, although only 1300+ PSA 10 copies versus nearly 1500 PSA 10's of his Donruss Rookies card.  

bonds-fleer-1986

1986 Fleer Update Bonds - PSA Population Report - Over 20,000 PSA Graded Cards!

Translation-it's a lot harder to get a PSA 10 Fleer Update Bonds card due to the blue edges which chip quite easily.

And they actually sell for a bit more; recent PSA 10 Fleer Update Bonds cards have been fetching close to $500. 

3. 1987 Fleer Glossy Barry Bonds (RC) #604

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $400

Investment Potential: 8.5 out of 10

fleer-glossy-bonds

While there are nearly 1300 PSA 10 1987 Barry Bonds Fleer rookies, there are less than half of his glossy variation from the same year.  

bonds-glossy-psa

The cards were issued in complete sets in a tin from Fleer and had a much lower production run than the base Fleer set.

The cards are identical the base Fleer issue aside from the glossy finish on the front of the card. 

I consider this one to be one of the better Bonds rookies to invest in--but a PSA 10 is now commanding around $400.  

4. 1986 Topps Traded Tiffany Barry Bonds (RC) #11T

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $6,000

Investment Potential: 8 out of 10

barry-rookie

Here's where things get interesting. The 1986 Tiffany Topps Barry Bonds card is much much harder to find than the 1986 Topps Traded Bonds Rookie.

It's not rare by any means, but has 1/20th of the entire Topps Traded population.

PSA has graded ~2400 copies with only 440 PSA 10's.  Thus this makes it a much more valuable card as well. 

bonds-tiffany-psa

PSA 10 Traded Tiffany Bonds cards are selling at around $6000, and for good reason, they are among the rarest Bonds rookie cards.   

The PSA 9 population of the Tiffany Bonds card is at 1350+ copies, about par with the existing supply for the Donruss Rookies and Fleer Update Bonds cards.

5. 1986 Donruss Rookies Barry Bonds (RC) #11

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $150

Investment Potential: 7.5 out of 10

bonds-donruss-rookies

If you were a baseball card collector in the 1980's you might remember these small boxed Donruss Rookies sets which were super popular at the time. The set featured Barry Bonds, Jose Canseco and Bo Jackson among others.

Yes, Donruss made a lot of these sets.  I have no idea of the final print runs, but if you see an 80's collection for sale, there is bound to be one of these sets included.

PSA has graded over 12,000 Donruss Bonds rookie cards, with nearly 1500 graded a PSA 10.  Who knows how many more boxed sets will get graded in the coming years.  If buying this card, I would only invest in the PSA 10 copy, which as of this writing is selling for around $200+.  

bonds-rookies-donruss

6. 1986 Topps Traded Barry Bonds (RC) #11T

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $350

Investment Potential: 7 out of 10

topps-traded-bonds

Of all the 1986 Barry Bonds issues, the 86 Topps Traded card has the largest graded supply according to PSA data. It's a sharp card too, with Topps accenting the Pirates uniform with yellow lettering.

Nearly 47K 1986 Topps Traded Bonds rookie cards have been graded by PSA. 

And roughly 10% (~4700) have earned a PSA 10, slightly higher than the PSA 10 Fleer Update Bonds, which has earned about 6.5% of overall submissions. 

bonds-86-topps-traded

The average selling price for the PSA 10 Bonds is around $600, which is think is too high relative to the Donruss Rookies or Fleer Update issues from 1986---I just believe that the Topps XRC is more recognizable--however supplies would point to the other two as being better investments. 

7. 1987 Topps Tiffany Barry Bonds (RC) #320

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $2500

Investment Potential: 7 out of 10

tiffany-bon87

Similar to the Fleer Glossy set, Topps issued 1987 Tiffany sets in a specialized box with a much lower production run than the base Topps issue.  

The 1987 Topps Tiffany Barry Bonds rookie card is much rarer than the Topps RC version--only 241 copies graded a 10 by PSA.   And expect to pay up---PSA 10's are now averaging between $2000-$3000

bonds-tiffy-psa

8. 1987 Fleer Barry Bonds (RC) #604

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $250

Investment Potential: 7 out of 10

An almost identical population to his 1987 Donruss rookie card. PSA has graded roughly 1250 of the 1987 Fleer Barry Bonds PSA 10 rookie cards, lower than the Donruss card.  

PSA 10's have been selling for around $250, which I think is a pretty good investment if looking for a Bonds rookie card to hold onto for a while.

9. 1987 Donruss Barry Bonds (RC) #361

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $150

Investment Potential: 6.5 out of 10

donruss-87-bonds

The 1987 Donruss Bonds rookie card is considered one of the classics. The Donruss was produced in generous quantities, yet for any collector at the time, this was the rookie card to have. And it's a great looking card, the black borders accentuate the Pittsburgh Pirates uniform so well.

And collectors have been more than willing to get their Donruss Barry Bonds rookie cards graded at PSA. In fact, as of this writing, nearly 25K Barry Bonds Donruss rookie cards have been graded at PSA.

Of that total, however, only around 1700 have earned a Gem-Mint, PSA 10 grade. This is due primarily to the condition sensitivity of the cards, with the black borders, which can chip and turn white easily. 

bonds-donruss

1987 Donruss Barry Bonds Rookie Card PSA Population Report - Over 25,000 cards graded.

1987 Donruss Bonds rookies in PSA 10 grade have been increasing in value of late and selling for around $150.  It will be interesting to see if this card and his others fall due to his lack of HOF election.

1987 Barry Bonds 361 Donruss Card (RC)

$350.00  

Buy It Now for only: $350.00
Buy It Now

1987 DONRUSS #361 BARRY BONDS RC PIRATES PSA 10 A1826-227

$83.20  (16 bids)
End Date: Thursday Sep-21-2023 21:38:00 EDT

Bid

10. 1987 Topps Barry Bonds (RC) #320

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $200

Investment Potential: 6 out of 10

barrybonds87topps

I was shocked to learn that PSA has only graded ~15,000 Barry Bonds 1987 Topps cards whereas Donruss and Fleer cards from the same year have been both graded nearly 25,000 times.  I think its because collectors know the Topps set was massively produced, likely more than Donruss or Fleer....and that it wouldn't be worth getting graded.

bonds-87-topps

1987 Topps Barry Bonds Rookie Card PSA Population Report

Thus believe it or not there are actually less 1987 PSA 10 Topps Bonds cards than there are 1987 Donruss PSA 10's and only a few hundred more than PSA 10 Bonds cards from the 1987 Fleer set.  The Topps PSA 10 card sells for a bit less than his Fleer card but for more than his Donruss card. 

11. 1986 Sportflics Barry Bonds (RC) #13

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $75

Investment Potential: 5.5 out of 10

bonds-sportflics-image

While still a bit of an oddball card, the 1986 Sportflics Barry Bonds cards does still qualify as a rookie card. From an overall supply standpoint, it has far few graded issues versus any of the other 1986 Bonds rookie cards.  

However Sportsflics cards are quite thick and don't get dinged up very easily---out of ~4400 graded PSA copies nearly have have earned a PSA 10.

PSA 10 copies can be found for under $200.

bonds-sportflics

12. 1987 Toysrus Barry Bonds (RC) #4

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $300

Investment Potential: 5.5 out of 10

bonds-toysrus

Another oddball set, the 1987 Toys 'R' Us cards were issued in box sets and sold at the now defunct toy store. The cards are attractive and have some popularity with Barry Bonds fans.  It is rarer than most of the major rookie card issues--PSA has graded roughly 2100 of the Toys R Us cards with a total of 336 Perfect Condition-PSA 10's---which are now selling at around $200.  

If you want rarer oddball Barry Bonds rookies, this is a cool one to have.

bonds-toysrus-psa

13. 1987 Classic Travel Barry Bonds (RC) #113

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $1200 (Green Back)

Investment Potential: 5 out of 10

classic-bonds

An oddball insert set, these Classic cards were part of a board game yet they produced some super cool cards, including this Barry Bonds card.  

There are two variations--based on the color of the back of the card, with the green back a lot harder to find.  Note that there are only 31 PSA 10 Green Back Classic cards, and nearly 400 of the Yellow Back PSA 10's. 

Yellow backs can be found for around $100, whereas Green Backs are nearly 10x that amount.  It's a cool card, but I think I would rather a collector steer towards more of the mainstream issues. 

classic-bonds-psa

14. 1987 Donruss Opening Day Barry Bonds (RC) #163

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $350

Investment Potential: 4.5 out of 10

bonds-opening-day

The Donruss Opening Day subset wasn't all that popular. The issue had lower production than the normal 87 Donruss set and PSA has graded only a fraction of the base Donruss Bonds rookie cards--2600+ copies of the Bonds Donruss Opening Day card have been graded with 237 copies earning a perfect PSA 10 grade.   

Note there was a much rarer error card that featured an image of Johnny Ray-but I wouldn't be looking at that one as an investment. 

bonds-opening-day-psa

Are Barry Bonds Rookie Cards Worth Anything?

Ungraded copies of the most popular Barry Bonds cards with high production runs, such as the 1987 Topps, 1987 Donruss, or 1987 Fleer cards are not all that valuable. Most can be found for less than $10 on eBay. 

Rarer issues, like the 1987 Fleer Glossy and 1987 OPC are worth more, but still inexpensive if not graded.  

PSA 10 graded copies of any Barry Bonds rookie card carry a significant premium. As shown below, we list out the values for all of his rookie cards in PSA 10 grade. Prices range from $75 at the low end for a PSA 10 Sportflics Bonds rookie all the way to $15,000 for a Perfect Gem Mint PSA 10 1987 OPC Bonds rookie card.

As follows we list values for each Barry Bonds Rookie card in PSA 10 grade.

The good news is that raw (ungraded) versions of Bonds rookie cards are also a great opportunity for investors looking to buy into some of his rarer issues.

Barry Bonds Most Valuable Rookie Cards

The most valuable Barry Bonds rookie cards include the 1987 OPC, 1987 Topps Tiffany and the 1986 Topps Traded Tiffany extended rookie card. 

For collectors looking for the best Bonds rookie card investment, these would be the three to target in any higher grades.  

However, it won't be cheap - for example, PSA 10 1987 OPC Barry Bonds rookie cards have been selling for in excess of $18k to $20k.  Lower grade Mint (PSA 9) OPC copies typically can be found for under $1000. 

bonds-values

Comparing Barry Bonds PSA 10 Rookies To Michael Jordan 86 Fleer Rookie

This might be completely insane, but since the cards came out of the same exact time frame in sports, and the two players (despite the steroid stuff with Bonds) were the best among their peer group..maybe we should compare values?  

Of course it's slightly insane--one, (aside from his Star cards) there really is only one accepted Michael Jordan rookie card. Bonds has many, and most trounced the production of the 86 Fleer basketball set.  Although some didn't and some have much lower populations.  

We can see in the comparison below that many of Bonds harder to find PSA 10's--notably the 86 Topps Tiffany, 87 Topps Tiffany and 87 Fleer Glossy cards are quite near the graded population for Jordan and at tiny fraction of the value.

bonds-vs-jordan

Yep, we get it...Bonds has the steroid stain...Jordan is well the GOAT and really can do no wrong.  

What do you think?  

Should the Bonds rookies be worth more?  Let us know in the comments section! 

Will Barry Bonds Cards Increase In Value If He Gets Into The Hall Of Fame?

This is the key question when buying any Barry Bonds cards and would be the number one catalyst to move his cards higher from here. Sure, they could move higher regardless, but a HOF election would make everything different.   

To date, Bonds is still known as the steroid guy.  But, it feels as if that association and negativity keeps declining each year.

bonds-steroids

It's well documented that Bonds used steroids, but it's also clear that before he started using-- he was one the best baseball players of his generation.  

Even the late Hank Aaron thought that Bonds should be in the Hall of Fame.

This USA Today article reminds readers of the 'Game of Shadows' book's findings which discovered that Bonds likely didn't start his steroid use until 1999.   Thus, voters need to examine the abilities of Bonds as a player from his rookie season in 1986 with the Pittsburgh Pirates to 1998-- a period in which he did reportedly not take any performance enhancing drugs.  

bonds-stats

And Bonds was one hell of a player during this time, averaging 35-40 homeruns, with 100+ RBI's, 30+ stolen bases, .300 + BA and an OPS above 1.00. 

Barry Bonds received 61% of the votes in 2021, short of the 75% required, but a marked improvement from the 36% he received in his first year of eligibility in 2013.

This however wasn't much of an improvement over 2020, with Bonds earning 62% of the vote, only a 1% improvement.

My thoughts are that writers are crazy for excluding Bonds (and Clemens). Unfortunately, eligibility with the writers has now surpassed the ten year limit.

The only chance now for Bonds to get to the Hall Of Fame is via a committee vote. In late 2022, the Contemporary Era Committee selected Fred McGriff as a new member of the HOF but once again shut down Bonds, Clemens and Curt Schilling. 

Bonds now needs to wait until 2025 for another chance to get elected to the hall. 

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  1. I believe the market has spoken. His cards have only increased, and rapidly since the vote denied him for a 9th time. Iconic cards like his are being viewed like art. And with all the institutional money coming into the business, the sky is the limit on the 1986 Topps Traded Tiffany card. Your side by side with Jordan’s rookie mat not be too far off. Time will tell.

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