Along with his jaw dropping career achievements The Kid was a cultural icon, known for his silky smooth swing, big smile and backwards ball cap Ken Griffey Jr has left his mark in the game of baseball as one of the All-Time Greats!
Griffey played for the Seattle Mariners between 1989-1999, the Cincinnati Reds between 2000-2008, traded to the Chicago White Sox in 2008 and back home to Seattle to cap off his career in 2009-2010. He played for a total of 22 years and his career achievements are staggering: He is a 13x All-Star, 7x Silver Slugger Award, 10x Gold Glove Award and the 1997 AL MVP. His defensive skills in center field were second to none, he was the standard by which all other center fielders were measured. I had the privilege of watching Griffey’s entire career and I must say for his era of baseball he was the greatest baseball player in the game and arguably the greatest ever.
When he was voted into the HOF he received a record 99.32 percent of the vote which broke Tom Seaver’s record of 98.84 percent.
Career Stats: Batting Average .284 | Home Runs 630 | Hits 2,781
Ken Griffey Jr’s most iconic baseball card is his 1989 Upper Deck Rookie Card (pictured above). This is his most attractive and beloved rookie card among collectors. It’s not only popular for a great photo but this was the debut set of Upper Deck.
Upper Deck was the new card manufacturer on the block and promoted quality photos, quality paper stock and quality printing. Griffey Jr. featured as card No.1 in the 800 card set was a roll of the dice. In 1989 card manufacturers would all debut a rookie subset and that year everyone was highlighting Mets prospect Gregg Jefferies. But Upper Deck had a young employee by the name of Tom Geideman and he had a hunch about Griffey Jr. and recommended to put Griffey Jr. as the front running prospect for its debut set. This baseball card is viewed by many as a modern-day Mickey Mantle card and its desirability among collectors does not seem to be slowing down anytime soon. On the 20th anniversary of the card’s release, Sports Illustrated called it, “The Last Iconic Baseball Card.”
ROOKIE CARDS OF HALL OF FAMER KEN GRIFFEY JR:
1989 Bowman, Card #220
1989 Bowman can be considered Bowman’s premier set but its more of an awakening. Bowman is no newbie to the hobby. During World War II there were no sports cards produced until after the war. The first release was the 1948 Bowman, they continued to produce cards until 1955 when Bowman conceded to their own war against than rival Topps Co. Bowman’s 1989 awakening was this 484 card set. It’s a bit bigger then the traditional 2.5″ X 3.5″ size. These cards measure 2.5″ X 3.75″ and are made to resemble the 1953 Bowman set. Griffey Jr. is the key card in the set.
1989 Donruss, Card #33
This 660 card set is one of my favorite sets printed in 1989. What impressed me most was card design, they really did something special with the borders on the front of these cards. The border sides are a gun-metal black, the top and bottom borders are a dual colored gradient fill. Stamped on the front is the “Rated Rookie” logo the hobby has grown to love.
Couple of things that hurt this set: 1) is print runs. Decisions made by Donruss caused many cards to be DP meaning Double Printed. Trends of the day already produced high print runs and to double print is borderline irresponsible. 2) Also, this years offering of Donruss also suffers from mis-cut cards, which is a common characteristic of cards that were mass-produced.
1989 Fleer, Card #548
Griffey Jr. is the key card in this 660 card set. This is my least favorite of all his rookie cards. The depressing gray / pin-stripe design reminds me of Griffey posing in a prison. The light gray design didn’t really work for the 1970 Topps design nor does it work for this one. Nonetheless, it is an official rookie card of one of the greatest players of all time.
1989 Score Rookie Traded, Card #101T
This 110 card set was available through hobby dealers only. Not much to be said about this one except not very popular among collectors, I can’t speak for everybody but for me it’s always been the gosh awful colors used in design. Green, plum and pink!? Really?
1989 Topps Traded, Card #41T
This 132 card set was also available through hobby dealers only. The set was an exact design to the 89 Topps set that year. Yet another upper torso photo of Griffey Jr., this one is a collector favorite mainly because it’s a Topps product but also for its clean design like only Topps can deliver.
1989 Upper Deck, Card #1
The undisputed heavy-weight champion of its era. See above. Enough said.
NOTE: Bowman, Fleer and Topps Traded each have Tiffany and/or Glossy parallels of Griffey Jr. and are highly desirable among collectors. Expect to pay premium prices when purchasing these parallels because some are expected to have less than 5,000 copies printed.