What is the Error on the Barry Bonds Rookie Card?

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I love cards, obviously. But something that takes them to the next level in my collecting heart is the uniqueness; the stories and the unknown—the wow, I had no idea about that. And even after all of the years and all of the cardboard that has passed through my fingers, I’m still finding newness.

While I’ve known about the Barry Bonds 1987 Donruss rookie card error for some time, it’s one of my favorite “oopsies,” and would love nothing more than to dive into it right now for you.

What’s the Barry Bonds RC Error?

In the 1987 Donruss Opening Day set, some of the included Barry Bonds cards pictures Bonds’ teammate, Johnny Ray. Meaning, the card is #163, which is Bonds’ place on the checklist, and has Bonds’ name printed. However, the photo is Johnny Ray.

Wax Pack Gods dives into the the mixup, stating “It was estimated at the time that only about 2% of the Bonds cards actually showed Ray, and that number is nearly born out by the PSA population report, which pegs Ray between 3% and 4%.”

So, in layman terms, the card is pretty hard to find, making it not only one of the stranger baseball card errors, but couple that with it being a rookie of perhaps the greatest home run hitter to ever play the game, and the rarity, and you’ve got value.

How valuable? There are only two currently for sale on eBay, and the lowest price is $2,400 for an SGC 8.5! The most recent sale was a card in not so great condition – an SGC 4.5 – for $499 plus shipping.

This PSA 9 on Amazon is listed at $10K!

If you find yourself in the market for the card, just be sure you’re purchasing the right card! Meaning, between the name and photo swaps, corrected cards, and more, it’s easy to get confused.

Here is a look at the 1987 Donruss “rookie card,” the Bonds’ corrected Opening Day card, and Johnny Ray’s:

When you’re seeking out the Johnny Ray version, you’ll come across the original run Bonds, along with the corrected Opening Day version. Aside from the card numbers being different, you’ll notice the Opening Day issue has a maroon border versus the classic black.

Wait, Doesn’t Bonds Have a 1986 Card?

That’s correct, Barry Bonds does in fact have a 1986 card, from his rookie year, along with a Tiffany version. That said, because the card is part of Topps’ Traded series box set and thus not included on the main set checklist and available in packs, it’s an XRC and not an RC. Thus, while 1986 is Bonds’ rookie year, his true rookie cards are considered to be 1987.

Applying that reasoning here, though, Bonds’ base Donruss is labeled as “RC” and his Opening Day cards are not, even though many treat them as so.