What’s The Best Ken Griffey Jr Rookie Card? The Top 5 Cards Ranked

best ken griffey jr rookie card

The Ken Griffey Jr rookie card has become one of the most sought-after rookie cards, if not the most sought-after, since its debut in 1989.

It’s hard to properly explain to the indicated what the Ken Griffey Jr. meant to collectors during that era and its continued impact even into today’s baseball card collecting.

This article will look at the best Ken Griffey Jr. rookie cards and rank the top 5.

Ken Griffey Jr. Rookie Cards Table Of Contents

What Year Was Ken Griffey Jr. Rookie Card Released?

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The baseball card sets of 1989 were the year we first saw Griffey’s rookie cards appearing in sets for baseball card collectors.

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Which Ken Griffey Jr. Rookie Cards Are The Best Rookie Card?

Because there were not as many sets being released by baseball card companies during the late 80’s, there were only a handful of Ken Griffey Jr. rookie cards to choose from. That said, there are definite favorites and cards which hold more importance to card collectors and hobbyists than others.

Let’s break down his most popular rookie cards below.

1. 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. Rookie Card #1

When Upper Deck released its inaugural set in 1989, it took a risk and put the Ken Griffey Jr. Rookie Card #1 on its setlist. This was a brave move, as several of the other card companies didn’t even include Griffey in their set for the season.

The risk paid off, and the hype behind Griffey led to a frantic hobby, with card collectors and fans spending lots of money on Upper Deck sets to land the rookie phenom. It was also a big deal, as Upper Deck packs were a bit more pricey than its long-term competitors.

Not only were collectors excited about the high-quality Upper Deck glossy baseball cards, but landing a Griffey was a big deal during that year.

While there were eventually concerns about over-production of the card, and even some improprieties by card shops during that time about how many cards they actually had in stock, it never slowed demand for the card, as Griffey turned out to be a superstar in the making.

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2. 1990 Topps Ken Griffey Jr. Rookie Card #336

Topps was one of the companies which were sleeping on Griffey during the 1989 season and didn’t include him in that base set (although they did try to fix that by including him in the later 1989 Topps Traded update). However, Topps rookie cards are seen by many collectors as valid rookie cards, even if other cards were released before it, so we are adding this card at #2.

This card set was massively overproduced, so the value of this Ken Griffey Jr rookie card is quite low, but for many who were collecting during those years, the card was a staple for most collections, especially after the hype from the previous year’s Upper Deck set.

It’s a great card that you can pick up for just a few bucks, although signed PSA 10 cards can be bought for a few hundred bucks.

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3. 1989 Donruss Ken Griffey Jr. Rookie Card #33

Up until 1989, with the release of the Upper Deck baseball set, baseball card companies had not put a lot of effort into good photography or aesthetically pleasing pictures. The 1989 Donruss Ken Griffey Junior rookie card is a fantastic example of that. Despite the hype around the young rookie, this card falls short in the looks department. 

Honestly, this rookie card only has two things going for it. The first is that it’s a Ken Griffey Jr rookie card, and the other is a Rated Rookie card, one of the most sought-after rookie series in baseball card collecting. 

It’s another high-produced set, so these are expensive cards to buy and own, making them great introductory cards for those looking to collect more Griffey rookies.

It’s worth noting, Donruss was one of the few to release multiple sets that year, each featuring Griffey. The 1989 Donruss Baseballs Best and the popular set Donruss The Rookies are still both quite popular on eBay.

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4. 1989 Fleer Ken Griffey Jr. Rookie Card #548

Making this list without including the 1989 Fleer Ken Griffey Jr RC would be hard. While nothing stands out about the card itself regarding design or looks, it was one of the most common cards during that era, permanently tattooed onto collectors forever as one of the hot cards of 1989.

This rookie card at least has a bit of aesthetic to it, with some yellow borderings matching the Seattle Mariners yellow logo. Other than that, Griffey isn’t even smiling in this picture. It’s one of the most boring rookie cards of all time, considering how popular it still is.

Another overproduced set, the Fleer Griffey rookie is super affordable to pick up. PSA cards do you go for a pretty penny, and there are even quite a few autographed rookie cards as well.

Fleer did put out a Fleer Glossy set in 1989, which was much harder to find, so there weren’t nearly as many Ken Griffey Jr rookie cards put into production as you could only get them in sets.

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5. 1989 Bowman Ken Griffey Jr. Rookie Card #220

Upper Deck wasn’t the only baseball card company to release new baseball card sets during the 1989 season. After a 30-year hiatus, Bowman appeared out of nowhere with a brand new offering for baseball card collectors. The highlight was the Bowman Ken Griffey Jr rookie card.

The Bowman set was exciting for collectors, not only because it was a new name in the baseball card collecting arena but the cards were quite different in design. They were much bigger than the standard baseball card, often standing taller than most protective sleeves would allow. They were also much better pictures, with very little writing on the front, which left more room for nice-looking pictures.

The sets were not nearly as produced as some of the others on this list, which does help their value a bit. However, finding these in good condition can be challenging since so many were put into card binders or protectors that simply did not fit the card, often leading to the deterioration of the condition.

There is a Bowman Tiffany set in 1989, and the Ken Griffey Jr rookie cards from that set are certainly much higher in price.

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Who Is Ken Griffey Jr., MLB Superstar?

Ken Griffey Jr. is one of the most iconic baseball players of all time. Born on November 21, 1969, in Donora, Pennsylvania, Griffey comes from a family with rich baseball history. His father, Ken Griffey Sr., played in the major leagues for 19 seasons and won two World Series championships with the Cincinnati Reds.

Griffey’s Baseball Background And Where He Comes From

Growing up, Griffey Jr. was always around the game of baseball. He played Little League and high school baseball, but it wasn’t until he was drafted first overall by the Seattle Mariners in the 1987 MLB draft that his baseball career really took off.

Ken Griffey Jr. And Minor League Baseball

1989 Bowman Tiffany Ken Griffey Jr./Ken Griffey Sr. #259

Griffey began his professional career in the minor leagues, where he quickly established himself as a top prospect. He played in the Mariners’ farm system for two seasons before making his major league debut in 1989.

Getting Signed To The Mariners And His Rookie Year

Griffey showed the world what he was capable of in his rookie year. He hit .264 with 16 home runs and 61 RBIs, finishing third in the Rookie of the Year voting. Thanks to his incredible athleticism and charismatic personality, he quickly became a fan favorite in Seattle.

Ken Griffey Jr. Becomes A Baseball Star His Second Season

1999 SP Signature Ken Griffey Jr Autograph

In his second season, Griffey took his game to the next level. He hit .300 with 22 home runs and 80 RBIs, earning his first All-Star selection and finishing 11th in the MVP voting. From there, Griffey continued to improve, putting up monster numbers and becoming one of the most feared hitters in baseball.

Ken Griffey Jr. Elected to the Hall of Fame

Griffey’s career was not without its ups and downs. He battled injuries throughout his career and was traded from the Mariners to the Cincinnati Reds in 2000. Despite this, he continued to produce on the field, and in 2016 he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Ken Griffey Jr. Career Accomplishments and Awards

2009 Upper Deck Sweet Spot Auto

ver the course of his career, Griffey racked up an impressive list of accomplishments and awards. He was a 13-time All-Star, a 10-time Gold Glove winner, and a 7-time Silver Slugger. He won the American League MVP award in 1997 and finished eight times in the top 10 in MVP voting. He also hit 630 home runs, ranking him sixth on the all-time list at the time of his retirement.

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