With the first pick in the 1987 MLB Amateur Baseball Draft, the Seattle Mariners picked Ken Griffey Jr. out of Moeller High School. The Mariners didn't waste any time, as Griffey received a signing bonus a week later. Ken Griffey Jr. seized the opportunity and was selected to 13 All-Star Games, while achieving 10 Gold Gloves, 7 Silver Sluggers, and capturing the AL MVP Award in 1997. Ken Griffey Jr.'s statistics also didn't disappoint, as he posted a career .284 batting average, and 630 home runs, where he currently sits as hitting the 7th most home runs in MLB history.
On September 14, 1990, Ken Griffey Sr. hit a home run, while Ken Griffey Jr. was on deck. Sure enough, Griffey Jr. responded with a home run of his own, as they became the first father-son combo to hit back to back home runs.
Griffey was a massive asset for the league while doing commercials for Nike, Foot Locker, Pepsi, and Nintendo. In 1996, Nike created a shoe line for Ken Griffey Jr., but they also established an ad campaign titled "Griffey in '96," which produced headlines across the country, where Griffey announced he was running for president.
While Ken Griffey Jr. will perhaps be most widely known as an electrifying player, who had a flawless swing at the plate while possessing tremendous swagger, hobbyists may further acknowledge him for how the career he put together affected the value of his baseball cards. Resulting from the fact that Ken Griffey Jr. produced a lasting impression on the baseball world, the following are the top 15 most expensive Ken Griffey Jr. cards:
1998 Flair Showcase Legacy Collection Ken Griffey Jr. Row 3 #1
Recent Sale: $1,050
1998 Flair Showcase Legacy was produced as a 480 card set, where each pack cost $4.99. If you were to purchase a box, which included 24 packs, with 5 cards per pack, you received a 1998 Fleer Diamond Ink card. The Diamond Ink program allowed hobbyists to collect this insert card in exchange for points that you could redeem and exchange for autographed baseballs when you reached a certain number of points.
Much like Ken Griffey Jr.'s 1997 season, he went rampant in 1998, hitting another 56 home runs, and just one less RBI than the season before, with 146 this time around. 1998 also marks the season where Ken Griffey Jr. played in every ball game except for one.
While Ken Griffey Jr. won the Home Run Derby once before, he was invited once again in 1998 but declined due to scheduling conflicts. When Ken Griffey Jr. was booed by fans, as they were so adamant about seeing him participate, he changed his mind and entered the contest, where he secured the Home Run Derby title.
Ken Griffey Jr.'s card from 1998 Flair Showcase Legacy is both distinctive and extremely rare, as just 12 cards have been submitted to PSA, of which only 4 cards earned a PSA 10. The total population of this Hall of Famers card passing through BGS is even fewer at just 4; however, the highest grade earned is a BGS 9.5, where there is a population of only 2, which makes this Griffey card a challenging pull, to say the least.
1997 E-X2000 A Cut Above Ken Griffey Jr. #2
Recent Sale: $1,425
1997 E-X2000 A Cut Above arises from the same set as the 1997 E-X2000 Essential Credentials card; however, this was a ten-card subset that featured an exclusive club of the top players in the game. The rarity of the card and the uniqueness make this card stand out from all of Ken Griffey Jr.'s other cards. This Ken Griffey Jr. insert from 1997 E-X2000 A Cut Above was placed in 1 out of every 288 packs.
1997 features the season where Ken Griffey Jr. went on an absolute tear at the plate. Griffey belted 56 Home runs, along with 147 RBIs, while batting .304 on the way to his only MVP Award. Since 1931, only 18 players have won the MVP award unanimously, and the 1997 season represented Ken Griffey Jr.'s turn to hold that honor. While it has remained unclear why Griffey only earned one MVP award, many speculate the main reason being the lack of achievements of the teams he played on.
To illustrate the scarcity of Ken Griffey Jr.'s card from 1997 E-X2000 A Cut Above, 46 cards have crossed through PSA, where 10 cards earned a PSA 10. BGS has seen even fewer Griffey cards than PSA, where there is a population of merely 25; however, the top grade received a BGS 9.5 represented by a total of 7 cards. Due to the limited supply of this card, we may observe continued growth for this Griffey card for the ensuing years.
1996 Select Certified Ken Griffey Jr. Mirror Red #47
Recent Sale: $1,600
Released as a 144 card set by Pinnacle, this 1996 Select Certified set includes six different parallels to collect, where hobbyists have the option to collect various parallels of each player. With a low print run for the parallel cards, collectors were intrigued to acquire each card, which caused the secondary market to flare up, where they continue to be in high demand today.
1996 Select Certified set the precedence for multiple parallels in one individual set, which is present in the modern card collecting hobby. The set was limited by the number of boxes that were produced, including how many parallels were manufactured. With Mirror Red parallel probabilities estimated at 1 in every 100 packs, there are just 90 copies of each card.
This card features stats from Griffey's 1995 season that was cut short due to a severe wrist injury while making one of the greatest catches in MLB history. Unfortunately, Griffey's wrist would bother him for years to come. Griffey then became fairly injury-prone, where he made 12 trips to the Injured List throughout his career.
Due to the low print run of 1996 Select Certified, only 19 cards have been reviewed by PSA, where only 1 card or 5% of all those submitted of this Ken Griffey Jr. card earned a PSA 10. To truly show how difficult it is to collect a Griffey Mirror Red Parallel, BGS has acquired just 1 card, that only secured a BGS 8.5. Hobbyists will continue to seek this Griffey card, yearning to become the first to obtain a BGS 10.
1999 Fleer Brilliants Ken Griffey Jr. Gold #24G
Recent Sale: $1,775
1999 Fleer Brilliants was released in the summer of 1999 as a 175 card set. What was most intriguing about this set was the packs were arranged in a certain way, where the 2nd card in the pack was customarily an insert. With three variations of the card, including Blue, Gold, and 24K Gold, each of the 175 cards were part of each category.
The card shares that Ken Griffey made the list of top 100 baseball players of all time by The Sporting News, where they created an in-depth process to come up with the comprehensive list. The Sporting News is a weekly sports publication and the premier magazine concerning baseball news, which became recognized as the "Bible of Baseball."
The top 100 was determined by the top Sporting News editors over a six week period that broke down a list from Hall of Famers to active players. While the top 100 list took place in 1999 and came from The Sporting News, according to a panel of experts from ESPN, Ken Griffey would move up that list to number 14, according to a collection of experts from ESPN.
PSA has graded 6 Ken Griffey Jr. cards from 1999 Fleer Brilliants, where there is a population of 2 PSA 10's. The figures from BGS also reveal the rarity of this Griffey card, where BGS determined that of the 5 cards that appeared in the evaluation process, just 2 of them deserved a BGS 9, which shows evidence that holding this card in your possession is seen as priceless.
2000 Upper Deck Ovation A Piece of History Ken Griffey Jr. A Piece of History - Autograph #KG-A
Recent Sale: $1,778
As an 89 card set which was released before the 2000 season, there were 20 packs per box, with five cards per pack that cost $3.99. The theory behind the embossing of the Ovation cards is for the card to both appear and feel like a baseball in your hand. While Ken Griffey Jr. was officially a member of the Cincinnati Reds at the release of this set, Upper Deck was unable to portray Griffey as a member of the Cincinnati Reds in this 2000 Upper Deck set.
As the Reds had already retired number 24, with the move to Cincinnati, Griffey elected number 30, which is the number his father wore with the team. Early on in his stint with the Reds, Griffey gradually appeared to decline due to injuries and older age. While still having a monster 2000 season with 40 HRs and 118 RBIs with the Reds, each of his counting categories decreased. Over his first six seasons with the Reds, Griffey averaged only 92 games and 324 at-bats per season.
The lone Ken Griffey Jr. card from 2000 Upper Deck submitted to PSA was very fortunate to merit a PSA 10 for this Ovation card. While more Griffey cards were presented to BGS with a population of 7, the highest grade earned through BGS was a 9.5, shown by a total population of 2. These figures reveal that a single hobbyist possesses a one of a kind top grade for this Griffey card.
1999 SP Authentic Chirography Ken Griffey Jr. Gold #JR
Recent Sale: $1,976
As a 135 card set produced by Upper Deck, if you purchased a box of 1999 SP Authentic, which included 24 packs of 5 cards per pack, you were also awarded an autographed card. While this Ken Griffey Jr. card includes gold parallels, each Chirography card in the 1999 SP Authentic set did as well.
What's significant about this 1999 SP Authentic card is that it was Ken Griffey Jr.'s final season with the Seattle Mariners. In his final season with the franchise, Griffey went out with a bang. He hit 48 HRs, 134 RBIs while stealing a career-high 24 stolen bases.
As Griffey was in his final contract with the Mariners, he requested a trade, while seeking to be closer to his hometown of Cincinnati. Griffey received just as he asked for, and signed the wealthiest contract in MLB history when he signed a nine-year contract, worth $116.5 million. The deal was made possible because Griffey agreed to deferred payments from the team, where he is still collecting payments from the Reds and will continue to do so until 2024.
The rarity of this 1999 SP card is illustrated by PSA having no data for this awe-inspiring autographed Ken Griffey Jr. card. While BGS has not experienced a significant population either, of the 9 cards graded by BGS, the highest grade merited a BGS 9.5, among a population of 5. These numbers indicate that there is currently no 1999 SP featuring Ken Griffey Jr. in the highest grade, suggesting you may pay a premium if you come across one.
1989 Topps Traded Ken Griffey Jr. Tiffany #41T
Recent Sale: $2,081
The 1989 Topps Traded is quite similar to the 1989 Topps set, though 1989 Topps Traded features a brighter and whiter card stock. Additionally, 1989 Topps Traded features rookies and players that were traded to other teams following the release of 1989 Topps. 1989 Topps Traded features a 132 card set, with roughly 15,000 sets produced. For each Topps Traded set that merchants ordered, they additionally received a Tiffany set.
With this being Ken Griffey Jr.'s first Topps card, while also being a Tiffany, this 1989 Topps Traded is valuable to collectors while highlighting the Tiffany glossy front, with a clearer image on the back of the card. Collectors are also intrigued by 1989 Topps Traded because of all of Griffey's rookie cards produced; the 1989 Topps Traded set features the lowest print run of all of Griffey's rookie sets.
With Griffey devouring Minor League pitching, he was rated as a Grade A prospect and was ranked the number one prospect by Baseball America. The scouts who had an eye on Ken Griffey Jr. wouldn't be mistaken, as he created an uproar throughout his major league career.
This Ken Griffey Jr. Tiffany card from 1989 Topps Traded, which has been obtained by hobbyists have been submitted to PSA for grading 1,898 times, where 17% of cards have earned a PSA 10. Since this Tiffany card was produced, an additional 393 cards have been presented to BGS, yet none of which received higher than a BGS 9.5 displayed by a population of 85. While collectors have received a BGS 9.5 roughly 22% of the time, it would be mind-blowing to be the first to receive a BGS 10.
1989 Fleer Glossy Ken Griffey Jr. #548
Recent Sale: $2,114
With the release of this set, 1989 Fleer became the rarest of all the Tiffany collections. While the set released 660 cards in the series, the Tiffany collection has a glossy coating on the front, with blue printing on the back, whereas the base card isn't as sharp, and features a yellow back. This set from 1989 is not only Griffey's 1st Fleer card but also a rookie card.
The 1989 Fleer set goes down in history as producing the most flaws in a set in sports card history, where there are numerous errors and variations, including the infamous Bill Ripken error. While Ken Griffey Jr.'s parallel from this set is indispensable, there have been many centering issues with his card.
As the card mentions that Griffey's first hit was a triple, that was when he played for Bellingham in the minors. Ken Griffey Jr.'s first hit in the majors was a double, where he went on to hit 524 2B in his career, which puts him in the top 50 for most 2B in MLB history.
The 1989 Fleer Glossy set featuring Ken Griffey Jr. has a population report of 1,418 from PSA, where this rookie card has earned a PSA 10 on 114 occurrences, or 12% of the time. If you presented this card to BGS for grading, you are most likely not entirely satisfied, as none of the 390 cards submit earned higher than a BGS 9.5, which holds a population of a mere 16 cards. Similar to the 1989 Topps Traded card, it has been more challenging to obtain a top grade through BGS than PSA.
1997 Flair Showcase Legacy Collection Ken Griffey Jr. Row 0 #24
Recent Sale: $3,383
Ken Griffey Jr.'s 1997 Flair Showcase Legacy Collection card was released in the summer of 1997 as part of a 540 card set. Each pack of cards in the 1997 Flair set included five cards, which fetched $4.99. Within the 1997 Flair set, 180 cards were selected for a subset divided into three distinct rows, which were Row 0, Row 1 and Row 2. Ken Griffey Jr.'s card was part of Row 0, which was the most limited row of the set. While each subsection was broken down into categories termed Showtime, Showstopper, and Showpiece, all 180 players in the subset were featured in all three sections.
With the card going into the advanced statistics regarding Griffey's AB/HR ratios, Ken Griffey had an otherwordly year and hit a home run every 11.1 at-bats in 1996. Ken Griffey Jr. occupies the 27th spot in MLB History with 15.56 AB/HR for his career.
Whether you obtained this Ken Griffey Jr. card in the summer of 97', or anytime since, this Flair Showcase Legacy Collection card is remarkably scarce, that PSA has not received any cards for grading. As for the 7 hobbyists who utilized BGS for grading purposes, just 3 of them warranted a BGS 9.5. You will be valued if you are the first to attain the top grade for this Griffey from the 1997 Flair Showcase Legacy Collection.
1997 Upper Deck Game Jersey Ken Griffey Jr. #GJ1
Recent Sale: $3,961
This 1997 Upper Deck Game Jersey card featuring Ken Griffey Jr. signified the first time a game-used piece was adopted on a baseball card. Three players of the set were featured with the jersey inserts, including Rey Ordonez and the late Hall of Famer, Tony Gwynn.
As a historic moment for the sports collecting hobby, you were no longer just holding a traditional baseball card, but one that merges the players' game-worn jersey, which makes this one of the most notable Ken Griffey Jr. cards of all time. While current memorabilia cards have the thickness of a few baseball cards piled together, this is a noticeably thin card, where the card's stock isn't any thicker than a regular baseball card.
As the card shares that he only played in 72 games in 1995, Griffey suffered a severe injury to his left wrist while displaying extraordinary hustle, while securing one of the most exceptional catches of his career. Sadly, Griffey underwent surgery on his wrist, where specialists deconstructed his wrist while using a metal plate and five screws.
As the first time a relic was adopted on a baseball card, this 1997 Upper Deck insert featuring Ken Griffey Jr. is a piece of history. As collectors have submitted this Griffey card to PSA on 34 occasions, a PSA 10 has yet to be awarded. While popping up with a population of 5, the highest grade a 1997 Upper Deck card has attained a PSA 9. BGS has also not awarded this Ken Griffey Jr. gem any higher than a BGS 9, where at a rate of just 7%, only 2 of the 29 submissions to BGS earned that mark.
1993 Finest Ken Griffey Jr. Refractors #110
Recent Sale: $4,375
With a card checklist of 199, Ken Griffey Jr.'s card from 1993 Finest is recognized as one of the set's most significant cards. The release of 1993 Finest marked the first time where one of the major card manufacturers released their figures on their cards, which in this case, indicated a production run of 4,000. These numbers imply that there are 30,000 base cards, 1,500 Jumbo cards, and 241 of each refractor.
Topps allocated 5,000 packs to dealers across the country, which contained three cards to serve in promoting the set. Cards from 1993 Finest came in packs of 7, with a retail value of $3.99; however, Topps promotion may have worked, as prices soared to over $20 per pack due to heightened popularity.
With the set produced in 1993, along with one of Griffey's most popular cards, it's fitting to reflect on the Home Run Derby in 1993, which took place at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Griffey became the first player to blast a home run past the right-field wall while hitting the warehouse on Eutaw Street. The Baltimore Orioles have since commemorated the feat with a plaque, that shares the player's name, team's name, the date, and the distance in the exact spot the ball landed on the fly.
This 1993 Finest Ken Griffey Jr. card has produced better luck with PSA than other Griffey cards, where 20% of the cards submitted, or 42 out of 205, have earned a PSA 10. However, the Griffey cards from 1993 Finest sent to BGS have not fared as favorable, where 61 cards have been analyzed, but the 5 highest graded cards earned a BGS 9.5. The figures note that only 8% of cards submitted to BGS have obtained a BGS 9.5, indicating that you would have a precious card if you were the first.
1997 Finest Embossed Ken Griffey Jr. Die-Cut Refractors #342
Recent Sale: $4,750
This 1997 Finest Embossed Die-Cut Refractor card is one of Ken Griffey Jr.'s most sought-after cards. With the embossed surface and remarkably low print run, this Ken Griffey Jr. card is a tough acquisition, while there is rumored to be less than 40 cards in existence.
While this card is extremely scarce, collectors are also genuinely drawn to this card for the gold trim and the old school appearance of the 1997 Finest Embossed set. The 1997 Finest Embossed series came in 24 packs per box, with six cards per each box, with the Die-Cut Refractor cards inserted in 1 out of every 1,152 packs.
While the card states Ken Griffey Jr. set the franchise record for home runs in a single season with 49, the following season he would step that total up to 56 home runs, which he would hit in back-to-back seasons. This Ken Griffey Jr. card was placed in the Finest Power category considering he was not just able to hit but hit exceptionally well. Griffey was a lifetime .284 batter over his stellar 22-year career. He also had a .538 slugging percentage, which is one of the best in major league history.
Even though there are limited numbers of 1997 Finest Ken Griffey Jr. cards in existence, this Griffey card has fared well during grading, as 8 of the 14 cards or 57% submitted to PSA came back with a PSA 10. On the flip side, for those sending the corresponding card to BGS, none of their Griffey cards merited higher than a BGS 9.5, with a population of only 6.
1997 E-X2000 Essential Credentials Ken Griffey Jr. #40
Recent Sale: $5,599
As a 102 card set produced before the 1997 season, this 1997 E-X2000 Essential Credentials set by Fleer/Skybox designed a box that included 24 packs. However, each pack came with just two cards, where it became the first major licensing company to feature packs containing only two cards. The idea behind this approach was to develop the set into a high-end product.
With cards from this set being highlighted in purple, red, and orange, the Ken Griffey Jr. card is featured as a blue holographic card. The back of Griffey's card is more straightforward but highlights a mirror image of the face of the card. This card also displays a simple layout, with a gold foil font, that gives this Ken Griffey Jr. card a futuristic perception.
While Ken Griffey Jr. missed a great deal of time in the 1995 season due to injury, he bounced back in 1996, while batting .303, with 49 HRs, 140 RBIs, and 16 SB, where his HR and RBI totals set career highs up to that point.
As Ken Griffey Jr's third most valuable card to date, there is no data from PSA for this 1997 E-X2000 Essential Credentials holographic card. This Griffey card is enormously valuable, where it has solely been graded a sum of 5 times, where the highest grade earned a BGS 9.5. Possessing this limited card is rare and unique, where if a PSA or BGS 10 pops up, you'll have to pay a substantial fee.
1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. Star Rookie #1
Recent Sale: $7,400
This 1989 Upper Deck Star Rookie card is known as the most renowned Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card. The release of this 1989 Upper Deck set was the first launch in Upper Deck history. As Upper Deck had a spokesman and exclusivity deal with Ken Griffey Jr., he was the first card of the set. This card also introduces the "Star Rookie" badge, which was only apparent for this set; however, it is a refreshing touch to highlight arguably the greatest Ken Griffey Jr. card.
As one of the most recognizable Griffey cards where he rocks a San Bernardino uniform, this 1989 Upper Deck is the cornerstone of any Griffey collection or any collection for that matter. The packs of this set were foil, which made them tamper-proof, and the cards were printed on high-quality paper stock. Each card also had a hologram stamped on them to prevent counterfeiting.
Upper Deck had a policy where if any cards were found damaged in its packaging, the company would replace it. The policy resulted in many Griffey Jr. cards being reprinted, which designates this as one of the most graded cards by PSA. Ranking in as Ken Griffey Jr.'s second most valuable card, a whopping 73,427 cards from 1989 Upper Deck have reached PSA for evaluation, where 3,803 or 5% of Griffey's cards have earned a PSA 10. As a once-in-a-lifetime haul, only 4 out of 3,803 cards have received the ultimate BGS Black Label. Due to the popularity of Ken Griffey Jr, this 1989 Upper Deck rookie card is of lasting value.
1989 Bowman Tiffany Ken Griffey Jr. #220
Recent Sale: $9,750
As the number one overall draft pick on June 2, 1987, Ken Griffey Jr. is highlighted here as a rookie as a member of the Seattle Mariners. This 1989 Bowman Tiffany card features the most expensive Ken Griffey Jr. card.
Ken Griffey Jr. was called up to the Mariners for the start of the 1989 season due to the phenomenal numbers he posted in the minor leagues. While with Bellingham in 1989, Griffey batted .313 with 14 HRs and 40 RBIs in just 54 games. In Griffey's second season in the minors, he swiftly moved up the minor league system, where he hit .325, with 13 HRs and 52 RBIs, along with 36 SB in only 75 ballgames.
Griffey's first Bowman Tiffany card features his autograph on the face of the card, which is the rarest of his Tiffany cards with only 6,000 printed. Tiffany cards are considered quite valuable because a more appealing and high-quality card stock is used during production. Tiffany cards also feature a glossy finish on the front of the card, with a visibly brighter reverse of the card than the base version.
As the most expensive Ken Griffey Jr. card on the market today, this Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card from 1989 Bowman has earned a PSA 10 on 156 occasions out of 1,502. As the population report from BGS shares, they have analyzed 502 Griffey cards from 1989 Bowman, where only one single card has obtained the ultimate Black Label from BGS. Standing in as Ken Griffey Jr.'s most valuable card, this 1989 Bowman Tiffany card has immeasurable worth, which will continue to increase steadily.
Junior After Baseball
Ken Griffey Jr. was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2016, with 99.3% of the vote, which signified the highest percentage of anyone at the time. As Ken Griffey Jr. concluded his Hall of Fame speech, for one last time, he turned his cap backward, which was Griffey's ultimate signature.
The Seattle Mariners would retire Ken Griffey Jr.'s number 24 jersey the same year for the remarkable impact he had on the franchise. The career that Ken Griffey Jr. presented will not be matched, as he loved everything about the game, where he both smiled and laughed as he took the field.
While having his jersey retired from a place he called home for ten seasons, to cementing his name in the Hall of Fame, Ken Griffey Jr. cards are more desirable than ever, where they will continue to both heighten their significance and value.