Ken Griffey Jr. rookie cards are by FAR 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.
Ken Griffey Jr. (11/21/1969) was drafted by the Seattle Mariners with the 1st pick in the 1987 MLB June Amateur Draft out of Archbishop Moeller HS (Cincinnati, OH). 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.
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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.
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.
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).
His rookie cards are coveted by collectors across the globe and have been in the dreams of kids since 1989, in particular the legendary 1989 Ken Griffey Jr. Upper Deck Rookie Card.
There are literally tens of thousands of 89 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. rookie cards so you must be ultra picky when investing… we here at GoldCardAuctions only invest in BGS 9.5 or PSA 10 (most of our collection consist of PSA10).
We sometimes hear discouragement in regards to the 89 UD KG Jr. rookie card as people will say there were way too many printed… they can’t be worth anything!
This is why you must focus on the cream of the crop!… PSA 10 1989 Ken Griffey Jr. Upper Deck rookie cards are worth far from nothing and destroy the S&P 500 in a head to head match up over the last 3 years! (see chart below).
1989 Ken Griffey Jr. Upper Deck PSA 10 vs S&P 500
As you can see the card has gained roughly 45% since 1/1/2017 while the S&P 500 is at 9.39%.
The 89 UD KG Jr. rookie card seems to do very well in times of distress as it rose in value while the S&P 500 tanked via the COVID-19 outbreak.
Now we’re not saying sell all your stock and buy Ken Griffey Jr. rookie cards but we are saying this card (and other high-end sports card investments: read our best sports cards to buy now write up) makes for an excellent hedge against stock market losses!
We recommend putting as much as 25% off your investment dollars into high-end sportscards!
Top 10 Ken Griffey Jr. Rookie Cards
Now let’s take a look at some of the best Ken Griffey, Jr.’s rookie cards for investment purposes and consider some of these to your new investment strategy if you haven’t already.
10. 1989 Ken Griffey Jr. Score Traded RC #100T (buy on eBay)
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 knock.
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.
Bottom line… the Ken Griffey Jr Score Traded rookie card is an ideal starter card for kids or new collectors not looking to spend hundreds.
9.1989 Ken Griffey Jr. Scoremasters RC #30 (buy on eBay)
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.
8. 1989 Ken Griffey Jr. Donruss Baseball’s Best RC #192 (buy on eBay)
According to PSA, only 410 copies of this card with the highest possible grade exist. While it isn’t as rare as the 1989 Star Ken Griffey, Jr. Rookie Card #11, it’s still valuable.
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.
7. 1989 Ken Griffey Jr. Bowman Rookie Card #259 (buy on eBay)
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).
6. 1989 Ken Griffey Jr by Tyson Beck Topps Project 2020 (buy on eBay)
Technically this is not a Ken Griffey Jr. RC as it was printed in 2020 under the Topps Project 2020 set… BUT… we love it too much to keep off the list.
The card is a throwback to the classic 1989 Topps Traded Baseball RC #41T and shows Griffey Jr. with the bat hung over his left shoulder while mean-mugging for the camera.
Available in a few the card’s artists was Tyson Beck (Considered an industry leader in the world of sports design, Tyson Beck counts major American leagues such as the NBA, MLB, NFL, NHL clients of his, alongside global brands such as Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour).
5. 1989 Ken Griffey Jr. Donruss Rated Rookie RC #33 (buy on eBay)
Currently, 1,625 copies of this card with a Gem Mint rating exist, per the PSA population report. 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
4. 1989 Ken Griffey, Jr. Topps Traded Tiffany 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.”
3. 1989 Ken Griffey Jr. Fleer Glossy Rookie Card #548 (buy on eBay)
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, there are a mere 15 copies of the Gem Mint version on the market. 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.”
2. 1989 Ken Griffey Jr. Bowman Tiffany RC #220 (buy on eBay)
This is the best Bowman Ken Griffey, Jr. rookie card on the market. According to PSA’s official website, only 156 copies of the Ge Mint version exist.
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 Ken Girffey Jr. Upper Deck Rookie Card #1 (buy on 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 not only is our favorite Griffey Jr. rookie card but its also on our shortlist for our best long-term baseball card investment… you simply can’t get much better than this card especially for collectors/investors in their 30s and 40s.
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 in the hobby.
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 value of Ken Griffey Jr. rookie cards and in particular the 1989 Upper Deck rookie card has exploded within the last few months.
Hobbyists we spoke with differ on the exact reason but many agreed that the COVID-19 virus had a lot to do with it as collectors had ample time to sit around and browse baseball card listing on eBay (the stimulus check didn’t hurt either).
That being said the exact worth of any Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card is very hard to determine and can vary greatly but we have attempted to put together a Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card price guide below.
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If you have a card in which you would like the precise value please email us at email@example.com (include a few pictures of the card along with any other relevant information).
About to buy a high-end Ken Griffey Jr. RC but are unsure about the purchase? please reach out to us for advice at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM us on the Gold Card Auctions Facebook Page (pro tip: we are likely to answer FB DMs faster).
Ken Griffey Jr. Price Guide (updated monthly)
Here we will keep an updated price guide to reflect the average value of his more popular rookie cards. You may want to bookmark this page for quick access if you are frequently buying Ken Griffey Jr. RCs.
This list is based on eBay sales and will be updated monthly so you can get an idea of what you should be paying for Ken Griffey Jr. Rookie Cards when buying them on eBay.
Please note we will only use PSA as BGS can greatly differ based on sub-grades. The average value will be based on the last 10 sales unless otherwise noted.
1989 Upper Deck
- PSA 10: $1,512
- PSA 9: $199
- PSA 8: $72
- PSA 10: $210
- PSA 9: $29.50
- PSA 8: $10.90
- PSA 10: $384
- PSA 9: $28
- PSA 8: $14
1989 Fleer Glossy
- PSA 10: $1897.50 (based on 6 sales)
- PSA 9: $410.60 (based on 4 sales)
- PSA 8: $73.57 (based on 4 sales)
Other Key Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball Cards
- 1990 Donruss Ken Griffey Jr. “Green Eye Scar” Card #365 “MULTIPLE ERROR”
- 1993 Finest Refractors Ken Griffey Jr #110
- 1994 Upper Deck Mickey Mantle Ken Griffey Jr Dual Auto BGS /10
- 1994 Upper Deck Electric Diamond Ken Griffey Jr. #224
- 1998 Pinnacle Performers Swing for the Fences Upgrade #2
- 1998 Topps Chrome Refractor #321
- 2015 LEAF Q Autograph Swatch Gold /25
- 2015 Leaf 25th Green Clear Acetate Autograph
- 2016 Panini Flawless Autograph /10 RUBY
- 2018 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
- 2020 Topps Project Ken Griffey Jr. by Artist Tyson Beck #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. Rookie Card Checklist
- 1989 Upper Deck RC #1
- 1989 Bowman RC #220
- 1989 Bowman Tiffany Rookie Card #220
- 1989 Score Traded RC #100T
- 1989 Donruss RC #33
- 1989 Classic Travel Orange #131
- 1989 Classic Travel Purple #193
- 1989 Topps Traded RC # 41T
- 1989 Donruss The Rookies #3
- 1989 Donruss Baseball’s Best #192
- 1989 Fleer RC #548
- 1989 Topps Heads Up Test #5
- 1989 Mariners Mother’s #3
- 1989 Bowman Tiffany Ken Griffey Jr./Ken Griffey Sr. #259
- 1989 Bowman Ken Griffey Jr./Ken Griffey Sr. #259
- 1989 Star Baseball RC (11-card set)
- 1989 Pacific Griffey Candy Bar Ken Griffey Jr. (blue, yellow and white backgrounds)
- 1989 Score Young Superstars II #18
- 1989 Donruss Diamond Kings #4
Ken Griffey Jr. Rookie Card Signed (buy on eBay)
There is not a lack of Ken Griffey Jr. autograph baseball cards for sale on eBay as he was pretty friendly and quick to sign a card.
Buyers Guide and Investment Report
Investment Rating: Strongest Buy Possible ( 5 out of 5)
Ownership Disclosure: Five (5) 1989 Upper Deck PSA 10, One (1) 1989 Upper Deck SGC Pristine, Two (2) 1989 Bowman Tiffany, Two (2) Donruss Rated Rookie, One (1) Topps Traded Tiffany Rookie Card
Best for Moderate Bankrolls: 1989 Bowman Rookie Card #259
Best Ken Griffey Jr. Rookie Card: 1989 Upper Deck RC #1
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.