Barry Bonds spent the first four years of his Major League career doing really good things on the baseball field while being heralded by some as having the “tools” to become the greatest all around player in the game.

One of those admirers was his manager Jim Leyland, who would tell you even back in the 1986 or so that Bonds was going to be something (even if the two of them did have their moments).

Most baseball observers thought there was some truth to that forecast, what with Bonds being Bobby Bonds’ son and Willie Mays’ godson and showing good speed with flashes of power.

But a few seasons in, nothing really jumped off the page at us — it looked like Bonds had 20-homer power with 30-steal speed as he turned the corner on his 20s.

Good stuff … but great?

It was starting to seem like maybe the ceiling had been set a little high in some circles.

Except, Bonds was already doing the little things that would eventually add up to something really big — fielding at a Gold Glove level in left field (mainly), running the bases well, getting on base via walks.

All of that clicked in 1990, just like the Pirates did, and Bonds won the National League MVP award on the back of a .301 batting average, 33 home runs, 114 RBI, and 52 stolen bases.

He turned in more of the same sort of next-level performances in 1991 and 1992, winning another MVP that latter year, while continuing to boost his on-base percentage.

Bonds was starting to get his due, and folks like Leyland were looking pretty smart.

Barry really was one of the best overall players in the game, it seemed, and collectors began sprinkling a bit attention toward his cards.

Even with all the accolades, though, Bonds couldn’t seem to crash through to the top of the hobby hot lists. Not with veterans like Nolan Ryan, Rickey Henderson, and Cal Ripken setting records on the field and in showcases.

And not with youngsters like Ken Griffey, Jr., and Frank Thomas being hailed as the next wave of all-time greats.

But then, Bonds became a free agent after the 1992 season.

And, though he had a good thing going in Pittsburgh, there was never really much doubt where he’d end up.

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By the time Topps rolled out Series Three of their 1993 Stadium Club issue, Bonds was well on his way to MVP number three after a summer of crushing home runs in drafty old Candlestick Park.

Topps captured that new marriage — Barry Bonds and the San Francisco Giants — there on card number 684.

And this was the look that would finally excite card collectors, right away and a decade later when Bonds was crushing all sorts of home run records.

This is no rookie card and no super-scarce one-of-one, but it is among the very first cards to show Bonds in a Giants uniform, and that makes it monumental.

Today, the 1993 Stadium Club Barry Bonds card sells for $10 or less on eBay, even in perfect “10” graded condition — much less when you buy it “raw.”

In terms of historical significance, you could make the argument it has all the tools to be a great.

Hmmm … sounds familiar.

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1993 Topps Baseball Cards Series 1 Unopened Sealed box

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