Bonds memorabilia prices on the way up 

For Barry Bonds, one more season means possibly becoming the home run king. For local card shop owners, one more season of Bonds means register-ringing sales.

Just how much in sales no one knows. They do, however, expect some kind of spike as the maligned slugger approaches Hank Aaron’s career mark of 755 home runs.

"People are realizing he’s going to break the record this year, and people are getting ready for it," said Stephen Tarantino, owner of Collector’s Cave on Union Street.

"It’s going to bring his [card] price up quite a bit," said Tim Gin, manager of Cards and Comics Central on Geary Street, who said an autographed bat can run as high as $800.

As the Giants prepare for today’s home opener against San Diego, Bonds sits 22 dingers away from breaking the record.

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But while Giants baseball fans will bask in watching Bonds chase Aaron’s record, interest outside the Bay Area in Bonds memorabilia will likely remain stagnant, said Rich Klein, a price guide analyst for

Beckett Media, based in Dallas.

"There might be a small spike, but I don’t think you’ll see a tripling in [the value] of his cards," Klein said, adding that Bonds is hated outside of his fan base.

Last season, value in Bonds memorabilia remained "lukewarm" as he was approaching Babe Ruth on the home run total list, according to Beckett. But that was attributed to a knee injury that wiped out his 2006 season. This year, Bonds is coming off a 26-homer season.

"The key indicator is his rookie cards," Klein said. Bonds’ 1986 Topps card is about $20 now, compared with about $55 in 2002.

Jordan Lee, owner of What’s On Second in San Mateo, agreed that outside the Bay Area, Bonds cards and memorabilia are flat.

"Nationwide, his merchandise has gone down almost 100 percent," he said. "But he’s been my No. 1 selling card since Michael Jordan retired."

Casual fans who don’t usually collect cards probably will shop for Bonds gear this season, said Jim Bernardini, co-owner of Lefty’s Sports Cards in Burlingame.

"When [Mark] McGwire was approaching [Roger] Maris [for the single season home run record], people were coming out of the woodwork saying, ‘Hey, can I get a McGwire card?’" he said. "The same thing will happen with Bonds."

And as for all the lingering chatter over indictments, grand juries and BALCO, Giants fans are apathetic, say storeowners.

"I’ve noticed that most people don’t really care about drug scandals and things like that," Gin said.

"With O.J. [Simpson] or McGwire, there might have been more curiosity or disappointment, but no one was saying, ‘I’m going to dump all of my stuff now because I don’t like him,’" Bernardini said.

bfoley@examiner.com

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