If ever you’re looking for a glimpse into the future of baseball, you could do worse than scrutinizing your baseball cards. Of course, you have to read them just right — and maybe call in some outside help — to get the story straight.

Take the 1969 Topps Bobby Bonds rookie card (#630), for example …

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Here you have a nice, clean shot of a guy who would soon join Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Jim Ray Hart, Juan Marichal, and Gaylord Perry as San Francisco Giants All-Stars.

Heck, by the time Bonds made his cardboard debut, he was already a Topps All-Star Rookie, as evidenced by the gold trophy on the front of his card.

The back of that Bonds RC also called out his Topps honor, among other things:

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And there’s where a bit more of the cardboard prognostications start to come to life.

In particular, take a gander at that cartoon, which proclaims that

Bobby smashed a grand-slam for his first major league hit.

Do a little digging over on Baseball Reference, and you’ll find that at-bat came during Bonds’ first big league game, a night tilt at Candlestick Park against the hated Los Angeles Dodgers on June 25, 1968.

Bonds came to the plate in the bottom of the sixth with one out and three men on base.

McCovey, Mays, and Hart had all walked, the latter two driving in runs with their patience.

And then, Bonds connected off Dodgers reliever John Purdin to make the score 7-0, Giants. Hart would drive in two more in the seventh as San Francisco cruised to a 9-0 victory.

For his part, Bonds went 1-for-3 with four RBI and a run scored … and a .500 OBP, courtesy of a plunking by Claude Osteen in the fifth.

So … where exactly does the prognostication come in?

Well, like we already established, Topps pretty much predicted Bonds’ All-Star future.

And that grand slam? The one that united McCovey and Mays and Bonds (and Hart)?

Well, that litany of names should look pretty darn familiar to anyone who’s been paying attention over the last 35 years or so.

Because, when this Bobby Bonds rookie card was issued, there was a young lad making the rounds in the Giants’ clubhouse.

Yes, four-year-old Barry Bonds, just on the verge of entering his school years but already (maybe) breaking glass with Wiffle Ball hits, was becoming a San Francisco fixture, right along with his daddy.

And, while Bobby’s stay in the Bay would last just a few years, and while Barry began building his own diamond legacy with the Pittsburgh Pirates 17 years later, the ties built in those early years would never be broken.

Willie Mays had become Barry’s godfather, for one thing.

And for another, Barry headed right back to the Giants when he reached free agency for the first time before the 1993 season.

By then, he had already established himself as one of the greatest players in the game, copping two National League MVP awards while leading the Bucs to three straight N.L. East division titles.

Along the way, he had also shown he could do just about anything he wanted to in the batter’s box or on the base paths — run, hit for average, hit for power, get on base.

Hmmm …

Hit for power …

Get on base …

Where have we heard those before?

Oh, right! It was there on the back of Bobby Bonds’ rookie card, where we learned about his grand slam (power), which led us to the box score of his first game.

Where, in turn, we learned about that HBP from Osteen (on-base abilities).

And, to belabor that grand salami makeup just a bit more, it bears repeating: Bonds … Mays … McCovey.

All three names played a part in Bobby Bonds’ first big-league hit.

And, today, all three stand among the, um, Giants of the franchise leader board in more offensive categories than you can shake a stick at.

So, was the 1969 Topps Bobby Bonds rookie a true cardboard Nostradamus, or are we reading too much into the tealeaves of history?

In the end, it’s a moot question — because, no matter how you look at it, this snapshot of a man in his prime will always call to mind the toddler who looms larger than life … just out of frame, waiting for his turn at bat.

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Barry Bonds rookie cards are among the most popular in the hobby, as evidenced by the strong sales seen on eBay during the last quarter of 2021. Check out our complete rundown on YouTube:

1969 Topps Baseball Cards - commons, VG to EX

End Date: Saturday 07/06/2024 23:19:29 EDT
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