THE BEST KEN GRIFFEY JR ROOKIE CARDS
Ken Griffey Jr rookie cards are one of the best investments in the hobby and on top of that, he is one of the best center fielders in the history of professional baseball. Not only can he hit a baseball a mile away, but he can also frustrate the opposition with his defense. When we talk about Griffey, we’re talking about a multi-dimensional player.
He is the son of former major league outfielder Ken Griffey, Sr. “Junior” (the moniker of the younger Griffey) was a fixture in the Cincinnati Reds’ clubhouse during the team’s consecutive World Series titles in 1975 and 1976.
Back then, the older Griffey’s Reds were known as the “Big Red Machine.” Little did Junior know he would suit up for the same team some 25 years later.
Ken Griffey, Jr. attended Archbishop Moeller High School in Cincinnati. He played two years of high school baseball, hitting .478 and 17 home runs during that span. He was the 1987 U.S. High School Baseball Player of the Year.
The Seattle Mariners made Griffey the first overall selection of the 1987 MLB Amateur Draft. He spent two years in the minors before the Mariners called him up to the majors on April 3, 1989. Griffey was 19 years old.
Griffey went on to make a name for himself in his 11 seasons in the Emerald City. He recorded 1,752 hits, 398 home runs, 1,152 RBIs, and 167 stolen bases. He was the home run leader in the American League in 1994, 1997, 1998, and 1999). He was also the 1997 American League MVP.
Most Expensive Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball Cards Sold on eBay?
Griffey was also a 10-time American League Gold Glove Award winner, a seven-time Silver Slugger Award winner, and the 1992 All-Star Game MVP during his tenure in Seattle.
The two Griffeys made MLB history by becoming the first father and son tandem to play in the same game in 1990. On September 14 of that year, they hit consecutive home runs in the first inning against the California Angels. Father and son played in a total of 51 games for the Mariners from 1990 to 1991.
Junior expressed a desire to move back to his hometown of Cincinnati in the fall of 1999. Seattle eventually traded him to the Reds for pitcher Brett Tomko, outfielder Mike Cameron, and minor league players Antonio Perez and Jake Meyer on February 10, 2000. Griffey signed a nine-year, $112.5 million deal with the Reds.
Griffey struggled with injuries during his first four years in Cincinnati. Nonetheless, he earned 2005 National League Comeback Player of the Year honors after he batted .301 and recorded 35 home runs and 92 RBIs in 128 games (the most since his first year with the Reds in 2000).
Junior also had a brief stint with the Chicago White Sox in 2008. He returned to the Mariners the following season. He eventually announced his retirement in June 2010. He was 40 years old when he hung up his cleats.
Griffey is currently seventh on the all-time list for home runs with 630.
The Baseball Hall of Fame elected Griffey on January 6, 2016. Seven months later, the Seattle Mariners retired his No. 24 jersey.
Let’s check out Ken Griffey, Jr.’s best sports cards for investment purposes.
Top 10 Ken Griffey Jr. Rookie Cards
10. 1989 Score Rookies Traded #100T
Part of a smaller 42 card set this Griffey Jr. card shows him getting ready to come out of the batter box after a base knocks.
The color scheme really makes the card pop as does the great shot of Griffey taking a huge cut.
It’s not a super hard to find and is on eBay often.
The card does land a higher value than his other Score issues on this list.
9. 1989 Donruss Rated Ken Griffey, Jr. Rookie Card #33 (buy on eBay)
Currently, 1,625 copies of this card with a Gem Mint rating exist, . With that in mind, this card isn’t exactly the rarest Ken Griffey, Jr. card on the market. However, it still commands a respectable price in the three-digit range. Bear in mind it still garnered the highest possible PSA grade.
This is a typical Donruss baseball card – you won’t find any flashy graphics and other eye candy. It’s downright simple, in fact. You’ll see a photo of Junior holding a bat on the front of the card.
Despite its simplicity, the 1989 Donruss Rated Ken Griffey, Jr. Rookie Card #33 should give you a nice return after a few years.
8.1989 Scoremasters KEN GRIFFEY JR. ROOKIE CARD #30
This card isn’t on the radar of most collectors but is a true beauty and is very underrated.
The artwork of the 1989 Score Masters Griffey Jr. RC is impressive and does a great job of capturing his trademark swing in a unique format.
It’s one of a very few Ken Griffey Jr. rookie cards to feature the artwork of the rising start and a must for true KG jr fanboys.
7. 1989 Donruss Baseball’s Best Ken Griffey, Jr. Rookie Card #192
In terms of price, it won’t create a serious dent on your wallet. However, get ready to shell out at least three digits for this one.
The front of the card shows a young Junior getting ready to swing for the fences. The back shows his stats during his minor league days.
Donruss is one of the most popular baseball card brands during Griffey’s era. It gives Fleer, Topps, and Upper Deck a serious run for their money. This card is no exception.
6. 1989 Star Ken Griffey, Jr. #5 1988 Season 2 White Back Rookie Card
You’ll rarely find a Ken Griffey, Jr. rookie card without him holding a bat. In hindsight, it makes a great deal of sense – The Kid was one of the greatest home run hitters of all time.
The 1989 Star Ken Griffey, Jr. #5 Season 2 White Back Rookie Card is a rare card featuring Griffey not holding a bat for a change. The front of the card shows him making a move for a base after a hit.
There are only 24 cards of this kind on the market today, . It commands a three-digit price. However, with that kind of supply (and Griffey’s status as a Baseball Hall of Famer), this card could command a higher price sooner than later.
The back of the card reads, “Came off D.L. on August 15 and was promoted to Vermont. Hit .444 (8-18) with a club-high 7 RBI vs. Pittsfield in the Eastern League playoffs. Was named the #1 M.L. prospect in the California League by Baseball America and was also selected as an outfielder on the league’s All-Star team.”
5. 1989 Topps Traded Tiffany Ken Griffey, Jr. Rookie Card #41T (buy on eBay)
While PSA received around 1,800 or so copies of this card for grading only a little over 300 copies received the elusive Gem Mint rating.
Try not to confuse the Topps Traded rookie cards with the Topps Tiffany version. The latter’s Gem Mint versions sell for roughly $25. They’re also much more common.
On the other hand, the former commands a heftier price on the market. Make sure you see “41T” on the upper right-hand corner. Plus, the Topps Traded version has a glossier surface.
The front of the 1989 Topps Tiffany Ken Griffey, Jr. Rookie Card #41T shows a boyish-looking Junior holding a bat.
The back of the card reads, “Ken’s first professional hit was a home run for Bellingham vs. Everett, 6-17-87. He was named Northwest League Player of the Week, June 16-22 with 3 HR and 8 RBI.”
This is the most valuable Fleer Ken Griffey, Jr. rookie card on the market. The best of the lot sold in the four-digit range.
According to PSA’s population report, . The reason: a considerable majority of the 1,397 copies PSA received for grading has a centering issue. When you get the Gem Mint version, you have one of the best Ken Griffey, Jr. sleeper cards around.
The front of the card shows a photo of Junior holding a bat with simple gray and white graphics in the background,
The back of the card shows Griffey’s minor league stats and some trivia. It reads, “No. 1 pick of Seattle in 1987….Signed out of Moeller High School in Cincinnati, famed for its football stars….The first pro hit was a triple….Batted .339 and hit 11 HRs in 1989, his 2nd pro season….Dad played in Majors for Reds, Yankees, and Braves.”
3. 1989 Bowman Ken Griffey, Jr. Rookie Card #259
The Bowman cards were larger than normal, measuring in at 2 1/2″ x 3 3/4″, and featured a full-color photo of Ken on one knee (see below for a rarer version).
2. 1989 Bowman Tiffany Ken Griffey, Jr. Rookie Card #220
Despite this card’s Gem Mint version having more copies than, say, the 1989 Star Ken Griffey, Jr. #1 Checklist White Back Rookie Card, it commands almost twice as much the market value on average. We credit that partly to the white borders and glossy finish.
This is another rookie card that features a photo of Junior without his most fearsome asset – his bat. It shows him in a kneeling position with a business-like look on his face.
The back of the card reads, “Ken made his professional baseball debut at Bellingham in 1987. He played at San Bernardino and Vermont in 1988.”
1.1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey, Jr. #1 Rookie Card (buy one eBay)
Despite hundreds of Junior’s rookie cards on the market, the 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey, Jr. #1 Rookie Card emerged on top.
This top-quality version is virtually flawless – near-perfect centering, sharp corners and edges, and a stain-free surface. Everything just comes together. These facets highlight The Kid’s radiant smile in the photo.
The back of the card reads, “The son of major league veteran Ken Griffey, who is still active with the Reds, Ken, Jr. is a rising star on the Seattle horizon, possibly the finest young talent the Mariners have ever produced. He will probably begin the ’89 campaign at Triple-A Calgary since his projected half-season at Double-A Vermont in 1988 was cut short by a back injury. M’s drafted him No. 1 in June ’87 out of Cincinnati’s famed Moeller HS, and 17-year-old Ken broke in with .320 and 14 HR at Bellingham that season.”
By far one of the most iconic cards in modern sports card times and is a childhood memory for many collectors.
The Ken Griffey Jr. Upper Deck Rookie Card is a true classic that belongs in every baseball card collection.
Ken Griffey Jr Rookie Card Value?
The exact worth of any Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card is very hard to determine and can vary greatly.
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The Kid (Other Key Cards)
- 1990 Donruss Ken Griffey Jr. “Green Eye Scar” Card #365 “MULTIPLE ERROR”
- 1994 Upper Deck Mickey Mantle Ken Griffey Jr Dual Auto BGS 9/10
- 1994 Upper Deck #224 Electric Diamond Ken Griffey Jr.
- 1998 Pinnacle Performers Swing for the Fences Upgrade #2
- 2015 LEAF Q Autograph Swatch Gold 24/25
- 2015 Leaf 25th Green Clear Acetate Autograph
- 2016 PANINI FLAWLESS KEN GRIFFEY JR AUTO 5/10 RUBY
- 2018-19 Leaf Pearl Ken Griffey Jr Autograph Signed Auto Patch Card /9
- 2019 Immaculate Collection on Card Auto REDS SP /5
- 2019 Topps Transcendent Base Metal Frame On Card Auto /25
- 2019 Topps Allen & Ginter “RIP CARD” /75
The Mickey Mantle and “Green Eye Scar” Error Card are two we would really like to add to our collection and are constantly on the lookout for it on eBay auctions.
Ken Griffey, Jr made headlines in the major leagues for 22 seasons. He was one of the rare players who excelled in both offense and defense. Griffey made a name for himself by crushing booming home runs.
However, let’s not forget he was also a 10-time American League Gold Glove Award winner. He was a two-way player in every sense of the word.
Little wonder Junior was a 13-time All-Star, the 1997 American League MVP, and a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
On that note, investing in a player of Griffey’s credential and caliber is a wise move. You can’t go wrong with a Hall of Famer who played his heart out every night.
More impressively, Griffey played the game the right way – with dignity and honor. He is one of baseball’s all-time greats who is making a profound impact on fans years after his retirement.
KEN GRIFFEY JR. ROOKIE CARD INVESTMENT OUTLOOK: STRONGEST BUY POSSIBLE
Ken Griffey Jr Rookie Card Checklist
- 1989 Upper Deck Rookie Card #1
- 1989 Bowman Ken Griffey Jr. RC #220
- 1989 Score Traded Ken Griffey Jr. RC #100T
- 1989 Donruss Ken Griffey Jr. RC #33
- 1989 Topps Traded Ken Griffey Jr. RC # 41T
- 1989 Fleer Ken Griffey Jr. RC #548
- 1989 Topps Heads Up Test Ken Griffey Jr. #5
Ken Griffey Jr. Price Guide
Beckett has a pretty solid price guide in regards to Ken Griffey Jr. RCs’.