In his 22-year career, Ken Griffey Jr. produced some of the most iconic and memorable moments in baseball history. By the time he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2016, he’d been named a 13-time All-Star, 10-time Gold Glove winner, and the 1997 American Leave MVP. And, throughout all of these victories, countless baseball cards were made to track his success.
Some of the most valuable baseball cards in the world feature Ken Griffey Jr. Between his rookie and professional career, his cards have gained a mythical reputation, such as the 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. Star Rookie #1, which has been listed as high as $23,000. Similarly, the 1989 Bowman Tiffany Ken Griffey Jr. #220 has been valued as high as $18,000.
Any experienced baseball card collector should know just how coveted a Ken Griffey Jr. card can be. With some cards selling for a small fortune, they’re rare, expensive, and highly sought-after. Let’s take a look at some of the most expensive Ken Griffey Jr. Cards and learn why these baseball cards are so prized.
An Overview of Ken Griffey Jr. and His Baseball Cards
Ken Griffey Jr. was one of the most dominant players of his generation. He played 22 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB), spending time with the Seattle Mariners, Cincinnati Reds, and Chicago White Sox. During his Major League career, Ken Griffey Jr. amassed an astounding 2,781 hits, 630 home runs, 1,836 RBIs, and a .284 batting average.
He was a central figure of the Seattle Mariners when they achieved a franchise-record-setting 116 wins in 2001. Griffey is also one of only nine players to hit 600 home runs and steal 200 bases. Today, he’s known as one of the most iconic players to have graced the diamond and continues to support several philanthropic causes, including the Boys ; Girls Club and several children’s hospitals.
Why Are Ken Griffey Jr. Cards So Expensive?
Ken Griffey Jr. cards are some of the most expensive in the world for a number of reasons. First, Griffey was an incredible player who had a long and successful career. With so many fans, his cards have become a sort of relic of his card and are now highly sought after by longstanding fans.
This demand has driven up prices and made Ken Griffey Jr. a star not just on the diamond but also at auction. Since some of these cards date back to before his 1989 MLB debut, they’re understandably rare and prone to the damage of age. Therefore, a mint-condition Ken Griffey Jr. card from his early days is considered a gem and well worth its thousand-dollar price tag.
Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball Cards Ranked By Price
If you’re reading this, Ken Griffey Jr. probably doesn’t need much introduction. So, with that in mind, we’re going to jump right in and introduce the top 5 most expensive Ken Griffey Jr. baseball cards in the world. These values are based on Grade 9 and 10, GEM-MT and MINT-rated cards, so don’t expect to get the exact price if you own any of these cards.
#5. 1993 Topps Finest Ken Griffey Jr. Refractors #110
When Topps released its 1993 Finest Baseball card collection, it consisted of 199 cards, including a Ken Griffey Jr. refractor card, #110. This also marked the first time in history that a major card manufacturer expressly stated how many cards they’d produced. According to their calculations, there were roughly 241 Ken Griffey Jr. refractor cards in supply.
Originally, Topps distributed the collection in random packs of 7 cards, which quickly jumped from $3.99 to $20 a pack within just a few weeks. During the same year, Ken Griffey became the first player to hit Eutaw Street by striking a home run out of right-field, helping to drive demand for his iconic new card.
Today, 42 of the 205 verified original cards submitted to PSA maintain a 10 GEM-MT rating, helping to boost their value even further. When up at auction, the 1993 Topps Finest Ken Griffey Jr. Refractor has sold for as much as $4,000 and is still commonly listed for as much as $7,000.
#4. 1989 Topps Test Heads Up Ken Griffey Jr. #5
As far as rare baseball cards go, anything out of the 1989 Topps Heads Up test issue certainly ranks highly on the hard-to-find scale. According to legend, Topps decided to run this limited-edition series of players’ heads in a few select stores throughout Pennsylvania. After a few weeks, they discontinued the line and then released a mainstream variety the following year.
Among the original 1989 test set was a side profile of Ken Griffey Jr staring back in his rookie season ball cap. To date, PSA has only graded 18 1989 Topps Test Heads Up Ken Griffey Jr. #5s, with most scoring fairly low. Only 11 cards have scored above a VG-EX 4, making this an incredibly valuable and rare piece.
If you manage to find a 1989 Topps Test Heads Up Ken Griffey Jr. #5, you could stand to make as much as $7,832. Of course, this depends on the card’s condition but even low-quality Grade 3 cards have sold for $800 and more.
The 1990 re-released set look almost exactly the same but you can check the date on the rear of the card to make sure you have the real deal. 1990 cards are plentiful and cheap by comparison.
#3. 1997 E-X2000 Essential Credentials Ken Griffey Jr. #40
The 1997 E-X2000 Essential Credentials set was released as a sort of follow-up to the popular 1996 E-X2000 set. Like the original, it consisted of 102 cards, each of which was printed on thick stock and encased in a holographic foil. Yet, unlike the ’96 edition, packs were limited to just 2 cards each, creating a luxury feel for the year’s set.
In many ways, the 1997 set was an upgrade from its predecessor, as it featured an increased focus on veteran players. While the 1997 E-X2000 Essential Credentials set is valuable as a whole, Ken Griffey Jr’s card is by far the most iconic and expensive. To date, PSA has only graded 10 cards, with most falling in the EX to NM range.
With so few cards having been graded, it’s hard to set a clear value on the 1998 E-X2000 Essential Credentials Ken Griffey Jr. #40 but several listings on eBay have reached as high as $19,000, making this by far one of the most expensive Ken Griffey Jr. cards on the market today.
#2. 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. Star Rookie #1
The 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. Star Rookie #1 baseball card is nothing short of a legend. As the first rookie card to feature the future star player, it’s not only one of the most popular cards of all time but also one of the most expensive. Yet, its rise to fame has been slow in the making.
The card was originally released as part of Upper Deck’s first-ever baseball card set and is considered by many to be the cornerstone of the company’s success. Yet it’s not exactly rare. During the set’s first printing, Upper Deck pumped hundreds of thousands of cards onto the market and every Tom, Dick, and Harry decided to keep theirs hoping it would someday pay their bills.
Unfortunately, over time, many of those original prints have fallen into decay, with PSA having graded more than 150,000 of these cards as of 2021 and only a select view qualifying as Grade 10 GEM-MT cards. Yet, despite the huge supply, buyers love the 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. Star Rookie #1, pushing its value higher than anyone could have imagined.
Today, these cards regularly sell for between $2,500 and $4,000, but it’s not uncommon for them to be priced even higher. At a record-setting auction in 2021, a GEM-MT card sold for $23,100.
Runner-Up Rookie Cards that Still Cost a Small Fortune
Before we introduce the most expensive Ken Griffey Jr. baseball card of all time, we wanted to quickly run through some runner-up rookie cards that come close but don’t quite break into the top:
- 1989 Fleer Ken Griffey Jr. #548 – To date, PSA has graded nearly 47,000 of these cards with only ~4,500 qualifying as GEM-MT condition. They currently sell for around $300 but, due to the relatively low volume of GEM-MT cards, they’re expected to appreciate in value over the next few years.
- 1989 Donruss Ken Griffey Jr. #33 – Of the roughly 32,000 copies of the 1989 Donruss Ken Griffey Jr. #33 cards that PSA has graded to date, less than 2,000 have qualified as GEM-MT condition. This makes it an extremely low-volume baseball card that’s expected to become quite valuable in coming years.
- 1989 Topps Traded Tiffany Ken Griffey Jr. #41T – This card is quite a lot rarer than the standard 1989 Topps Traded Ken Griffey Jr. card issued during the junk wax era. Instead, it was issued on high-quality Tiffany paper, with less than 2,000 copies having been graded by PSA to date. If you manage to find a copy, they can sell for up to $3,000 in the right market.
The Most Expensive Card – The 1989 Bowman Tiffany Ken Griffey Jr. #220
The 1989 Bowman Tiffany Ken Griffey Jr. #220 is not only the most expensive Ken Griffey Jr. baseball card but also one of the most expensive baseball cards in the world. The card was originally released as part of the Bowman Tiffany set, a premium offshoot of the regular Bowman issue.
The Tiffany cards were printed on thicker stock and featured a higher-quality photo than the regular Bowman cards. And, as he was still a rookie at the time of the photo, Bowman only printed 6,000 copies of his card. This makes it not only rare but also a premium card from the start of Griffey Jr.’s career.
To date, PSA has graded a total of 1,500 1989 Bowman Tiffany Ken Griffey Jr. #220s, with most falling in the NM to Mint range. At auction, this card regularly sells for between $14,000 and $17,000, with some listings pricing it as high as $23,000 on eBay.
Final Thoughts on the Most Expensive Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball Cards
As one of the most iconic baseball players of all time, it makes sense that Ken Griffey Jr.’s baseball cards are in high demand and can cost a small fortune. If you’re lucky enough to own any of these cards, you could be sitting on a goldmine. We recommend getting them graded as soon as possible to find out their true value and help preserve their condition.
If you want to know more about PSA and their grading, you can learn about PSA9 cards and also PSA10 gradings by clicking the links to some of our other posts.
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