PSA Set Registry

PSA Set Registry Starter Kit

Ken Griffey, Jr.

By Ryan Gaeta

Thirty years ago, armed with an infectious smile, effortless swing and uncanny power, a five-tool phenom took the game by storm and inspired a generation of collectors to stock up on his cardboard from 1989. Who, you ask? None other than prodigious power hitter Ken Griffey, Jr., of course.

"The Kid" entered the league by force, and baseball and pop culture soon bowed at his feet. His iconic Upper Deck rookie card transcends the hobby and is recognized by collectors and non-collectors everywhere - it even inspired an entire generation to begin collecting trading cards. Now, decades later, collectors will be surprised to learn that Griffey's cards are still largely affordable, and his rookie card set will cost you a fraction of the time and money needed to assemble similar collections representing members of baseball's upper-most echelon.

Whether due to the massive production and readily available nature of his cards, or his dwindling numbers as he reached his age 30-and-beyond seasons, Griffey's basic rookie set seems shockingly undervalued.

Here's a quick breakdown of the six-card set:

1989 Bowman #220

1989 Donruss #33

1989 Fleer #548

1989 Score Traded #100T

1989 Topps Traded #41T

1989 Upper Deck #1

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1989 Bowman #220

PSA Population: 1,720 PSA GEM-MT 10

Average Cost for PSA 10: $130

Griffey, Jr.

The set starts off with Bowman's 1989 offering. Like many Griffey cards, this issue is marked by high-population numbers, and high-grade examples aren't difficult to come by. Centering is often an issue, however.

The card does get a boost by the fact that Junior is shown in the most classic of Little League photo poses, something to which most of us can relate.

1989 Donruss #33

PSA Population: 1,491 PSA GEM-MT 10

Average Cost for PSA 10: $300

Griffey, Jr.

Even without The Kid's winning smile, this card is still one of the slugger's essential rookie cards. The colored borders present chipping issues and corner/edge wear opportunities. The population is also a bit lower, and it is one of the pricier additions to the set, even though it can still be considered undervalued at around $300 for a PSA 10 example.

1989 Fleer #548

PSA Population: 3,267 PSA GEM-MT 10

Average Cost for PSA 10: $45

Griffey, Jr.

With gray pinstripes and an unamused Griffey, this card tends to get lost in the set. Though the card's gray borders are notoriously fragile, and Griffey's portrait is often seen off center, high-grade examples of this card aren't difficult to track down, as you can see with more than 3,000 PSA 10s in the PSA Population.

1989 Score Traded #100T

PSA Population: 3,523 PSA GEM-MT 10

Average Cost for PSA 10: $35

Funky color combo aside, this issue is notable because it's a rare action shot from The Kid's rookie year, and we can assume he was probably powering an extra base hit through the gap. Typically, Junior was seen posing for cardboard shots in 1989, much like his most popular rookie card that we'll touch on soon.

1989 Topps Traded #41T

PSA Population: 3,523 PSA GEM-MT 10

Average Cost for PSA 10: $45

Next to his Upper Deck rookie, Topps Traded might be the most popular in the set. To date, more than 24,000 examples of this card have been submitted to PSA. Maybe it's because the slugger is depicted with his bat over his shoulder, much like his iconic Upper Deck release. Maybe it's because the classic design featured in this issue is preferred by many collectors. Despite its popularity, however, a PSA 10 can be yours for next to nothing.

1989 Upper Deck #1

PSA Population: 3,641 PSA GEM-MT 10

Average Cost for PSA 10: $450

Griffey, Jr.

When you think of Griffey rookie cards - or rookie cards in general, for that matter - Griffey's 1989 offering from Upper Deck comes to mind. Few cards in the hobby can claim to have catapulted a nascent card company into the hobby spotlight and inspired an entire generation of collectors the way that Griffey's most popular rookie card did.

Though produced in droves, this card has cemented itself in the hobby and in pop culture. It also seems

to be insanely undervalued, huge production run or not, considering the type of athlete Junior was when his star shined brightest. It does cost a bit more than other cards in this rookie set coming in at around $450, but we are talking about Ken Griffey, Jr. here! And this is THE Griffey card to own.

• • •

Junior was on top of the world in his heyday, and many believe he would have smashed several hitting records had his health not been a factor. Considering this, $1,005 total for his rookie set in PSA 10 is a steal!

With that in mind, if you'd like to own the rookie set of a modern legend and not break the bank, give the set a try on the PSA Set Registry.

For more information on Ken Griffey, Jr.'s trading cards, please visit PSA CardFacts. For more PSA Set Registry Starter Kits, please visit our PSA Blog homepage.


Please feel free to contact Ryan Gaeta at [email protected] if you have any additional information or comments. Please note the PSA Population Report statistics and card pricing quoted are as of April 2019.