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Collecting sports cards is a great way for sports fans to keep engaged with their favorite sports. Cards of well-known sports icons are available to buy for the price of a coffee up to millions of dollars for the rarest and most valuable cards.

Sports stars from the four major sports leagues – the National Football League (NFL), the National Basketball Association (NBA), the National Hockey League (NHL), and Major League Baseball (MLB), have a range of sports cards featuring their pictures, jersey patches, and autographs.

Cards featuring baseball stars from the MLB continue to break sale records, with a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle Rookie Card selling for $12,600,000 in August 2022.

Ken Griffey Jr is another well-known baseball star who played for 22 years in MLB. He is a 13-time All-Star and member of the baseball hall of fame.

Most Valuable Ken Griffey Jr Rookie Cards (Round-up list)

A rookie card is a sports card produced during the first year of a player’s career. Ken Griffey Jr was a number 1 draft pick and drew attention during his 1989 rookie year playing alongside his father, Ken Griffey Sr.

His rookie cards were produced at a time when the trading card industry hit an all-time high. Despite the mass production, his rookie cards continue to fetch huge prices at auction.

These are 12 of the most valuable Ken Griffey Jr rookie cards currently valued or recently sold at auction.

Number Ken Griffey Jr Card Grade Price
1 1989 Upper Deck Rookie RC #1 PSA Gem Mint 10 $55,201
2 1989 Donruss Ken Griffey Jr RC #33 PSA Gem Mint 10 $25,101
3 1989 Bowman Tiffany Rookie RC #220 PSA Gem Mint 10 $23,800
4 1988 Best Platinum San Bernardino Spirit #1 PSA Gem Mint 10 $13,762
5 1987 Bellingham Mariners Team Issue #15 PSA Gem Mint 10 $12,600
6 1989 Topps Traded Tiffany RC #41T PSA Gem Mint 10 $11,995
7 1989 SCD Baseball Pocket Price Guides RC #3 PSA Gem Mint 10 $5,350
8 1988 Cal-League All-Stars RC #26 PSA Gem Mint 10 $5,200
9 1989 Fleer Glossy Ken Griffey Jr RC #548 PSA Gem Mint 10 $5,100
10 1988 Procards Vermont Mariners RC # PSA Mint 9 $2,176
11 1989 Donruss Baseball’s Best RC #192 BGS Pristine 10 $2,153
12 1989 Topps Heads Up Test RC #5 PSA NM-MT 8 $2,136

1) 1989 Upper Deck Rookie RC #1

1989 Upper Deck Rookie RC #1
Source

(Sold by PWCC Marketplace in March 2021)

  • Price: $55,201
  • Grade: PSA Gem Mint 10
  • Card Number: #1

In the number one spot for the most valuable Ken Griffey Jr Rookie card is the 1989 Upper Deck RC, from probably the most well-known Griffey card set. Griffey was selected to be #1 by the Upper Deck company in 1988, a year before the set release. Usually the card numbers #1 and #100 were reserved for the biggest stars in the game, but Upper Deck decided to give the spot to Griffey as a future game prospect.

Due to Griffey not yet making his MLB debut, Upper Deck used a picture of him in his San Bernardino Spirit uniform. On the front of the card is Griffey smiling with the bat over his left shoulder with the Upper Deck rookie star logo printed at the bottom left. The back of the card contains information about his amateur playing season with Vermont.

The card has Griffeys autograph at the bottom in a thin blue pen. It comes from the 1989 Upper Deck set that contained 700 base cards alongside rookie stars such as Griffey that’s numbered #1.

It was graded by PSA as Gem Mint 10. Due to it being a mass-produced card, it’s the most graded PSA card of all time. It sold at a PWCC Marketplace auction in March 2021 for $55,201.

2) 1989 Donruss Ken Griffey Jr RC #33

1989 Donruss Ken Griffey Jr RC #33
Source

(Sold by PWCC Marketplace in February 2021)

  • Price: $25,101
  • Grade: PSA Gem Mint 10
  • Card Number: #33

In the number 2 spot is a card from Donruss, a popular card design among collectors. This is the 1989 Donruss Ken Griffey Jr rookie card. It’s one of Griffeys more popular rookie cards and is rarely seen with an autograph.

It shows Griffey in a blue baseball jersey and hat posing for the camera with the bat. This card example was issued alongside the 1989 Donruss set consisting of 660 cards. High caliber rated rookie cards were issued in a set of 20 alongside the base set.

It’s been graded by PSA as a Gem Mint 10. The most common issue with this particular Donruss card is the centering, making it hard to find in good condition. Only 1898 have been graded as a Gem Mint 10 by PSA and 16 have been given a 10 from Beckett. It sold at a PWCC Marketplace auction in February 2021 for $25,101.

3) 1989 Bowman Tiffany Rookie RC #220

1989 Bowman Tiffany Rookie RC #220
Source

(Sold by PWCC Marketplace in February 2021)

  • Price: $23,800
  • Grade: PSA Gem Mint 10
  • Card Number: #220

Next is a card from the 1989 Bowman Tiffany card series, consisting of 484 cards. Included in the set were rookie cards of well-known players such as Griffey. The bowman set had an estimated 6000 sets created.

This card is part of the first set of Bowman cards that were made in over 30 years. Whilst they were produced in large quantities, it remains a popular choice with collectors.

The card features Griffey in a side pose with one knee on the ground. It has the Bowman logo in the top right and is signed by Griffey at the bottom in black.

It was graded as a PSA Gem Mint 10 and sold at a PWCC Marketplace Auction in February 2021 for $23,800.

4) 1988 Best Platinum San Bernardino Spirit #1

1988 Best Platinum San Bernardino Spirit #1
Source

(Sold by PWCC Marketplace in July 2021)

  • Price: $13,762
  • Grade: PSA Gem Mint 10
  • Card Number: #1

Next on the list is the 1988 Best Platinum San Bernardino Spirit #1 rookie card. It’s from his days in the minor league and whilst it doesn’t have a serial number, it’s estimated to have around 5000 copies.

The card shows Griffey looking straight on at the camera in a San Bernardino outfit. The top of the card has ‘San Bernardino 88 Spirit’ printed in white, with the large text distinguishing it from other card releases. The back of the card has Griffey’s physical characteristics and amateur playing record from 1987.

It’s been graded by PSA as a Gem Mint 10, with only 16 other cards known to achieve the same grade from PSA. It was sold at a PWCC Marketplace auction in July 2021 for $13,762.

5) 1987 Bellingham Mariners Team Issue #15

1987 Bellingham Mariners Team Issue #15
Source

(Sold by PWCC Marketplace in February 2021)

  • Price: $12,600
  • Grade: PSA Gem Mint 10
  • Card Number: #15

Next is another card from one of Griffey’s minor league college teams, the Bellingham Mariners, a farm team from Seattle. It shows him posing in a white Mariners jersey at just 17 years old. He hit 313 in that season before making the major league in 1989.

It was the first Ken Griffey Jr minor league card and is popular with collectors, especially if it’s graded. It’s part of a 33-card set released during his minor league playing days.

At the bottom of the card is Griffeys signature in blue alongside his name, team, and position. The back shows some unique Griffey stats and some trivia about the Bellingham Mariners.

This card example was graded by PSA as a Gem Mint 10 and was sold at a PWCC Marketplace Auction in February 2021 for $12,600.

6) 1989 Topps Traded Tiffany RC #41T

1989 Topps Traded Tiffany RC #41T
Source

(Sold by PWCC Marketplace in February 2021)

  • Price: $11,995
  • Grade: PSA Gem Mint 10
  • Card Number: #41T

At number 6 is a Griffey rookie card from one of the leading sports card producers Topps. It’s part of the 132-card Topps Traded set that was issued after the base sets were released in the 1980s. The Tiffany version of the Topps set was believed to have a print run of 15,000.

On the front of the card is a picture of Griffey in a blue Mariners jersey. It is bordered with a wavy white pattern and features the Topps logo in the top right, which is what distinguishes it from the base cards.

It was graded by PSA as a Gem Mint 10, with only 331 other card examples graded as high by PSA. It was sold at a PWCC Marketplace Auction in February 2021 for $11,995.

7) 1989 SCD Baseball Pocket Price Guides RC #3

1989 SCD Baseball Pocket Price Guides RC #3
Source

(Sold by PWCC Marketplace in March 2021)

  • Price: $5,350
  • Grade: PSA Gem Mint 10
  • Card Number: #3

This Ken Griffey Jr rookie is from the SCD Baseball Pocket Price guides set. It features Griffey in a dark blue Mariners jersey looking straight at the camera. The top of the card has the Mariners name printed in red with Griffey’s name and position printed at the bottom. The back of the card gives some information about some of Griffeys other well-known sports cards.

It was graded by PSA as a Gem Mint 10, with only 19 being given the same quality grading by PSA. It sold at a PWCC Marketplace Auction in March 2021 for $5,350.

8) 1988 Cal-League All-Stars RC #26

1988 Cal-League All-Stars RC #26
Source

(Sold by PWCC Marketplace in May 2015)

  • Price: $5,200
  • Grade: PSA Gem Mint 10
  • Card Number: #26

The 1988 Cal-league All-Stars card set was one of Griffey’s last minor league cards before his call up to the MLB.

Printed on the card is a picture of Griffey strutting around the field, probably after hitting a home run. The card has ‘All Star’ in big red letters at the top and ‘California League’ printed on either side of Griffey’s picture.

What makes this card so rare is that it is extremely hard to find in good condition. It was graded by PSA as Gem Mint 10, making it highly sought after among collectors. Only 18 other card examples have been given the same grading by PSA.

It sold at a PWCC Marketplace Auction in May 2015 for $5,200.

9) 1989 Fleer Glossy Ken Griffey Jr RC #548

1989 Fleer Glossy Ken Griffey Jr RC #548
Source

(Sold by PWCC Marketplace in April 2021)

  • Price: $5,100
  • Grade: PSA Gem Mint 10
  • Card Number: #548

Next is a rookie card example from Fleer, another popular card brand with collectors. Following the Topps Tiffany card set, Fleer began offering this glossy card version of its sets produced in 1987.

This particular card example is a 1989 Fleer Glossy Ken Griffey Jr rookie #548. The set consisted of 672 cards and marked the third and final glossy release from Fleer during the 1980s.

It features a side version of Griffey in a blue Jersey posing with the bat. On the back of the card is a blue border which distinguishes it from the base cards.

What makes this card so special is that it commonly has bad centering issues. It means that this particular card example graded by PSA as a Gem Mint 10 is very rare and collectible. Only 117 other card examples have been given the same grading.

It was sold at a PWCC Marketplace Auction in April 2021 for $5,100.

10) 1988 Procards Vermont Mariners RC

1988 Procards Vermont Mariners RC
Source

(Sold by PWCC Marketplace)

  • Price: $2,176
  • Grade: PSA Mint 9
  • Card Number: N/A

This next card is from the 1988 Procards Vermont Mariners issue. The card has a picture of Griffey in a white Mariners jersey that’s bordered in red. On the back of the card are Griffey’s physical characteristics and his minor league playing stats with three teams.

This particular card was released separately as a late issue promo card. Most card issues are with centering, which makes this PSA Mint 9 version hard to come by. Only 1 other card example is known to exist of the same quality.

It was sold at a PWCC Marketplace Auction for $2,176.

11) 1989 Donruss Baseball’s Best RC #192

1989 Donruss Baseball's Best RC #192
Source

(Sold by PWCC Marketplace)

  • Price: $2,153
  • Grade: Beckett Pristine 10
  • Card Number: #192

This next card is another example by Donruss. This time it’s a 1989 Donruss Baseball’s Best Ken Griffey Jr rookie. Donruss produced the 336-card set known as ‘Baseball’s Best’ late in the season. It’s less common than the main set but not very rare as far as baseball cards go.

It shows Griffey swinging for the ball with the Mariners logo in the top left. It is bordered in yellow and green at the top and bottom. On the back of the card is Griffeys minor league stats before he made it to the MLB.

It was graded by Beckett as Pristine 10, a grade only reserved for 2 other known card examples. It was sold at a PWCC Marketplace Auction for $2,153.

12) 1989 Topps Heads Up Test RC #5

1989 Topps Heads Up Test RC #5
Source

(Sold by PWCC Marketplace)

  • Price: $2,136
  • Grade: PSA NM-MT 8
  • Card Number: #5

Last on my list of the most valuable Ken Griffey Jr rookie cards is a rather unique card that some might not class as a card at all. It’s open to interpretation.

It’s a 1989 Topps Heads Up Test RC #5. It is known as perhaps one of the rarest cards, issued in very small numbers as a test issue. The 1989 Topps Heads Up test issue can be distinguished by checking the copyright year on the back.

The card features a super enlarged picture of Griffey’s head that’s been cut around the outline of the head. It has a hole in his cap where the suction cup is supposed to go. On the back is the serial number 5/24.

It was graded by PSA as a NM-MT 8 with only 1 other example graded at the same quality. It was sold at a PWCC Marketplace Auction for $2,136.

Why are Ken Griffey Jr Rookie Cards so Expensive?

Ken Griffey Jr, also known as ‘The Kid’, was an American professional MLB player. His career spanned 22 years, mainly playing for the Cincinnati Reds alongside his father, Ken Griffey Sr. He is one of only 31 baseball players to appear in MLB games in four different decades.

As a member of the baseball hall of fame and 13-time All-Star, Griffey was one of the most prolific home run hitters in history. He was hugely popular with fans, signing deals with well-known sports companies such as Nike.

Whilst his rise in fame was accompanied by the mass production of sports cards, his 1989 Upper Deck rookie cards remain a popular part of 80’s culture. Some of his most popular rookie card sets continue to fetch high numbers, with collectors realizing just how iconic he was.

Conclusion – Most Valuable Ken Griffey Jr Rookie Cards

Ken Griffey Jr is regarded by most as a baseball icon, with his baseball cards continuing to fetch high prices at auction. Whilst his rookie cards were released during a time where cards were heavily overproduced, his 1989 Upper Deck Rookie continues to be hugely popular with collectors.

Conclusion - Most Valuable Ken Griffey Jr Rookie Cards
Source

It features at the top of my list, selling for $55,201 at a PWCC Marketplace Auction in March 2021.

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