It’s sort of hard to imagine these days, but the 1987 Topps Barry Bonds baseball card was once just a number … nothing special, really, in a sea of rookie cards biding their time to turn into little hunks of gold.

See …

Back in 1987, the hobby was really starting to boom, both unwittingly bracing ourselves for the onslaught of cards to come and fueling that inevitable glut with our insatiable appetites for more, moreMORE!

And 1987 Topps certainly gave us more, especially when it came to rookie cards.

Besides featuring the first Topps base cards of 1986’s breakout stars, Jose Canseco and Wally Joyner, the wood-bordered beauties gave us RCs of more “next-pick-your-starry-eyed-comparison” than you could shake a (gum)stick at.

Ruben Sierra, Bobby Witt, Rafael Palmeiro, Bo Jackson, Pete Incaviglia, Barry Larkin, Will Clark, Mark McGwire, Mike Greenwell, Devon White, Bobby Bonilla … the list seemed to go on forever.

So, pulling a card of young Barry was just one more thrill-of-the-moment to toss into the ol’ retirement portfolio, also known as the monster box stuffed with can’t-miss rookies.

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Of course, Barry did have something going for him that most of those youngsters didn’t — pedigree. But family lines cut both ways.

Yes, Bobby Bonds was the son of Bobby Bonds, the man who wrote the book on 30-30 seasons, but also the man who never stayed in one place, baseball-wise, for very long.

So, could Barry live up to his dad’s prowess on the diamond, or even improve on it, while somehow managing to built a more consistent presence in the game?

No one was really sure, but the Pirates had enough confidence to make Bonds (the younger) their first pick (6th overall) in the 1985 MLB Draft, and he made it to the Majors about a year later.

The back of his 1987 Topps card tells at least part of that story:

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And that story also explains, at least in part, why collectors were iffy about Bonds as a cardboard prospect.

Sure, the 36 stolen bases were nice, but a .223 batting average, 102 strikeouts in part of a season, and “just” 16 home runs weren’t exactly the stuff of dreams.

These days, of course, we’d also key in on those 65 walks and realize they boosted Bonds’ on-base percentage by more than 100 points over his batting average. And we might also consider, you know, his defense.

Not really so much back then, though. Not when 30- and 40-homer seasons by rookies were becoming de rigueur.

Today, we know Bonds would go on to become both one of the handful of greatest hitters ever to step foot on the diamond, and one of the most polarizing figures the game has ever seen.

It’s a stew of fame and infamy that’s left the 1987 Topps Barry Bonds vying with the woody Bo Jackson rookie card for the title of “most valuable” in the entire set.

Yes, indeed — from humble beginnings as an afterthought in a sea of rookies, and from the NOT humble beginnings of an amazing baseball pedigree, the 1987 Topps Barry Bonds rookie card has climbed the hobby mountain to become a Junk Wax star.

And, it’s not the card’s fault if that peak is more of a molehill than we’d once imagined it might be.

1987 TOPPS FOOTBALL NO.264 HERSCHEL WALKER ROOKIE

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End Date: Tuesday 07/05/2022 12:00:41 EDT
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