Wednesday, June 7, 2017

My Best Griffey Acquisitions of 2016: The Runners-Up

[Note: I cut this list short because I want to post these great cards but never had the time to finish it as I originally planned. Still, here's most of what was to be the runners-up post for best Griffey Acquisitions of 2016. Enjoy!]

The Top 30 Griffey Acquisitions list is my favorite post to make all year. It’s a challenge putting it together as I have to go through a year’s worth of eBay and COMC histories as well as trades and purchases with bloggers and through social media groups, not to mention cards acquired at card shows. But it’s so fun reliving my Griffey-collecting year that all the work I put into this post hardly feels like work at all.

These are scans of Griffeys that, while they aren’t Top 30 material this year, deserve a mention. It’s my biggest runner-up post ever, too, so forgive the page load time. And with the extremely limited blog posting I’ve given you for the past few months, this will be the first time I’ve shown most of these. Enjoy!

We're starting off with an autohgraphed card. That’s right – an autographed card did not crack the Top 30 this year. I never would have expected this to happen. Griffey card snob level: expert.

1991 Score All-Star Jumbo Autograph w/ COA (The Score Board, Inc.)

In all fairness if the Top 30 list was any longer, this would be card #31. These cards were sold by the company Score Board Inc. and sold via home shopping channels with COA’s. They could have chosen a better card for mass-signing; but hey, it’s on-card and the price was right.

1992-98 Highland Mint Topps Mint-Cards Bronze #KG92

Here’s another after-market warlock. This is Griffey’s 1992 Topps base card in the form of a heavy brass ingot with a custom screw-down case and COA. The COA is a little weird to me. I mean, if it was autographed that would be one thing, but it’s a heavy brass reproduction of a baseball card. It would be like going to New York and buying a souvenir with a certificate that says “This is an authentic reproduction of the Statue of Liberty.” Reproductions by definition are not authentic, so why waste paper on a COA? Anyway, it’s kind of awesome, so here it is.

1992 McDonalds Limited Edition Collector Pins (set of 3)

I already had the complete set of three McDonald’s pin cards, but here are all three again with the pins still on them! They’re a bitch to store, but you can’t say I don’t have that McDonald’s pin checklist on lockdown.

1992 MTV 3rd Annual Rock n' Jock Softball Challenge #3 /20000

I used to watch these Rock n’ Jock things on MTV with my older sisters. This card is so perfectly 1992 I can’t even stand it. On the short-list of my favorite oddballs.

1993 Alrak Ken Griffey Jr. Bellevue Youth Baseball Benefit #NoN

Just a well-executed oddball from the heyday of oddball brands like Alrak. They’ve produced a lot of "what am I looking at?" Griffeys in their time, and this is one of the best.

1993-95 Cardtoons Big Bang Bucks #BB-8

Cardtoons is back! I found this by accident which is the same way I discovered all the other goofball Cardtoons cards I’ve picked up over the years. It’s the same illustration as on the “Ken Spiffy, Jr.” card from the same brand, but on a wacky currency design. Cards like these have made several Top Griffey Acquisitions lists in the past, so I couldn’t not give this thing a mention.

1993 Mothers Cookies Mariners Team Set

Mother’s Cookies made a lot of Griffey cards, but for some reason this one from 1993 is the toughest to find. I had to buy the entire team set to get one which was fine with me as it also included PC’s Dan Wilson and Jay Buhner.

1993 Topps Finest #110 4x6 Jumbo

It was the Golden Age of jumbos for the sake of jumbos…

1993 Upper Deck Fifth Anniversary #A1 10x12 Jumbo

I mean, really. The Golden Age. Just the case this thing came in is weighty and darn impressive. Photographed with giant baby for scale.

1994 Mothers Cookies #4

Another gem from the cookie-era.

1994 Studio Gold Series Stars #4 #/5000

I’ve had the silver one for ages and it’s so nice that I always wondered how it wasn’t serial-numbered. I only just learned about these even coming in gold and finally with some well-deserved serial numbers.

1994 Topps Spanish x3

How many of these did Topps even make? They are super tough to find.

1995 Score Platinum Team Sets Seattle Mariners

Here’s another set I bought in its entirety in order to get not just the two Griffeys therein but also some beautiful cards for Randy Johnson, both Martinez(es? ez? ‘s?), Jay Buhner, and Dan Wilson. The cost of the whole set was actually less than the cost of the two Griffeys alone. Fun fact, and many of you more seasoned collectors may already know this: if you want a specific card from a scarce set, be sure to price the full set, too. Oftentimes it is around the same price or even cheaper than the single card you’re after. I’ve seen this time and time again with Griffey cards. It still boggles my mind.

1995 Upper Deck #100 Electric Diamond Gold

I busted a TON of this product back in the ‘90’s and again in 2013 and only ever pulled two Electric Diamond Golds: Jim Abbott and Jeff Conine. Not bad pulls, but I’ve known for a while the Griffey was going to be a challenge. One finally fell in my lap very late this year which was great timing as I needed it for the 1996 Beckett Tribute checklist. There’s nothing special about the card apart from the color of the foil, so I should resent it; but I love ’95 Upper Deck enough that the worst this card gets from me is mild indifference.

1996 Leaf Limited Pennant Craze #4

Mid-90’s Leaf is some of my favorite cardboard, especially when it’s not cardboard but FELT! So felty!

1996 Leaf Statistical Standouts #/2500

Another mid-90’s leaf, Statistical Standouts was a perennially tough pull. They’ve even held their value pretty well over the years. So they remain relatively tough to this day. It’s a great insert timeline, though.

1996 Select Certified League Preview #1 (w/ Hideo Nomo)

This is a very pretty card from the days when Hideo Nomo was the hottest name in the hobby. That sidearm thing had everybody fah-reaking out and paying $12.00 or more for common base cards. I remember it well. This was probably a $100 card back then.

1996 Studio Press Proof Gold /500

Just a rare parallel from a time when rare parallels seemed somehow even rarer.

1997 Donruss Fabric of the Game Superstar Material #5 #/500

Fabric of the Game was a tiered insert with two Griffeys in it of which this is the slightly rarer one. While this card is made of wood, other cards in the set were made with more unusual materials such as leather which I would have liked to see.

1997 Finest #342

This year’s Finest base set was multi-tiered in terms of rarity, and of all the Griffeys in all the tiers, this is the rarest one. There is also a refractor, an embossed, and an embossed refractor which you should just give up on right now because you’re never going to own it. Except you, magicpapa – you totally own it.

1997 Fleer #206 Tiffany

This almost made the Top 30 list because the Tiffany parallel from this year was such a tough pull at roughly one per box. This doesn’t sound too bad until you consider that the base set was huge, so landing a specific player was much harder. I had never even seen one of these until I got this Griffey in the mail - they just don’t come up for sale often. If you see one for your PC guy, stay on it until it’s yours.

1997 Pinnacle Team Pinnacle #10 (w/ Bagwell, Young, Caminiti, Jones, Piazza, Bonds, Burks, Sheffield, Smoltz, Thomas, Knoblauch, Thome, A-rod, I-rod, Belle, Gonzalez, Pettitt)

It’s a 90’s collector’s dream! So much love and so much ire on one card, and with Dufex printing no less!

1997 Pinnacle X-Press Melting Pot Samples #6

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: you’ve got to love a card of which there are more samples in the world than the card being sampled. I still haven’t pinned down the real deal, but I’m also in no hurry. I already have the sample, you see.

1998 Leaf Rookies & Stars Cross Training #2 #/1000

Here is the rarest non-parallel Griffey you can get from 1998 Leaf Rookies & Stars, a set burgeoning with cool, serial-numbered Griffeys.

1998 Pinnacle Epix Play Emerald #E1

These are complicated so I will save the in-depth description for a proper post. Suffice it to say that of the twelve total Griffeys there are to be had in this insert, this is the ninth rarest; and Emerald cards in general are the rarest color. I’m not confident I’ll ever find it in me to spend what is needed to complete this thing, but they are pretty.

1998 Pinnacle Team Pinnacle Collector Club Box Set #KEGR

This is Griffey’s card from the Pinnacle version of Topps Stadium Club, but as Pinnacle went bankrupt soon after the club was created it wasn’t around for long at all. The membership came with a t-shirt, so if anyone knows where there might be an XL of that laying around, I’ll pay handsomely. Like, Pinnacle t-shirt handsome.

1998 SP Authentic 300 HR Commemorative Trade Card

I also got the #/1300 jumbo commemorative card you traded this card for, but there’s something about the trade card that is so much cooler. I like to imagine this was pulled from a pack many years after the deadline passed, and everyone involved had a good laugh.

1998 Stadium Club Triumvirate #T16B

Everybody loves Triumvirate cards! Most collectors remember them from the ‘90’s, and those that don’t were reminded when Topps brought the insert back in the newest generations of Stadium Club. The insert, later renamed “3x3” (boo this), included two Griffeys per set for two years (1998 and 1999), each available in three parallels. That makes for a total of twelve Griffeys, some of which get awfully expensive, even now.

1998 Stadium Club Royal Court

It’s not all that rare – I just really like the design here. Purple cards FTW!

1998 Topps Gallery Gallery of Heroes Jumbo #GH 1

At a bar here in NOLA called “St. Joe’s,” there is a little piece of men’s room graffiti that I giggle at every time I go for some blueberry mojitos. It reads, “If you don’t like Morrissey, I don’t f***ing trust you.” Now, I like Morrissey. I don’t LOVE Morrissey, at least not enough to write such a powerful statement about him on a wall. But I recognize that to this person, if you like any music at all, you should be able to appreciate Morrissey as good music.

That is exactly how I feel about the stained glass effect of the amazing Gallery of Heroes inserts. Anyone who likes baseball cards at all should have some kind of appreciation for these. If you don’t like Gallery of Heroes, you can just get right on outta here. You are a bum. And you don’t like baseball cards.

Anyway, this is the jumbo version, and it’s just as beautiful as the regular-sized card.

1998 Upper Deck Unparalleled

Check out that wacky 90’s die-cutting!

1999 Skybox Metal Universe Diamond Soul #8

The lenticular fad went away back in 1995, but it wasn’t until this insert four years later that I actually liked a lenticular card. This is a gem of ‘90’s insert craziness.

I need a break from scanning, but before I go, here is a list of all the Pacific inserts I picked up in 2016:

Pacific inserts:
1996 Pacific Crown Collection October Moments #OM06
1996 Pacific Prisms Fence Busters #FB-6
1996 Pacific Prisms Red Hot Stars #RH-7
1997 Pacific Fireworks #FW-11
1998 Pacific Crown Royale #125
1998 Pacific Crown Royale Cramer’s Choice Premium Jumbo
1998 Pacific Invincible Interleague Players AL #11A
1998 Pacific Invincible Team Checklists #26
1998 Pacific Paramount Cooperstown Bound #9
1998 Pacific Revolution Rookies and Hardball Heroes #28
1998 Pacific Invincible Interleague Players AL #11A
1999 Pacific Crown Collection Tape Measure #16
1999 Pacific Crown Royale Century 21 #9
1999 Pacific Paramount Personal Bests #32
2000 Pacific Aurora Dugout View Net-Fusions
2000 Pacific Aurora Scouting Reports #17
2000 Pacific Invincible Holographic Purple #41
2000 Pacific Paramount Cooperstown Bound #9
2000 Pacific Paramount Double Vision #33
2000 Pacific Paramount Maximum Impact #17
2000 Pacific Revolution Foul Pole Net-Fusions #7
2000 Pacific Revolution Triple Header #12
2000 Pacific Revolution Season Opener #12
2000 Pacific Vanguard Cosmic Force #5
2001 Pacific AL Decade's Best #13


Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Look What the Cat Dragged In - a State of the Blog Post

Sorry it’s been so long, fellas. I do miss ya. I miss blogging, trading, and cardboard in general. A few other things I miss are alcohol, staying up past midnight, cursing openly, sleeping past 6, and going out whenever I damn well please; but life has changed a lot since last March.


I go to bed at 9pm every night now. My wife and I can usually be found in the kitchen washing bottles, preparing fresh bottles, cooking dinner, eating said dinner standing up, and wrangling alphabet magnets from around the fridge, all while singing, dancing, and generally entertaining the little one. None of our meals are entirely ours – some of it is broken up into tiny little bits for the boy; and even then there’s no guarantee he’ll eat it. Much of it ends up flung on the floor for no reason at all (thank goodness we have a dog). I should also mention that all of this is indescribably fun and rewarding, even when it’s not. I can’t imagine life without it.

So I don’t really have time for card blogging, and frankly I barely have time for cards at all. BUT (it’s a big but), I do have a confession to make:

I’ve been cheating on the hobby.

A lot of my collecting effort (and budget) has gone to my burgeoning vinyl collection. I have a good reason for that: we can actually enjoy the vinyl collection together. I can put a record on and we can listen to it as a family. And we’ve been doing exactly that for a few months now – at least a record a night, always something different. We sing, dance around, play bongos. He has a little plastic guitar, xylophone, maracas, harmonica, tambourine – the whole nine. It’s really fun.

I designed and built this cabinet myself to contain it all, and this is still only half of the collection.

Card collecting, despite all the trading we do, is a solitary hobby; and even now as I sit poking at my keyboard, I feel like a hermit. I can hear my wife and son on the other side of the wall behind me, playing; and I’m in here, typing about cardboard. I love this hobby, but I can’t justify that.

No one knows my collection the way I do, and no one else can enjoy it. Not yet, at least. I’m allowing for the fact that someday the boy will be old enough to enjoy cards on the same level as I do, and I’m proud to say that when that happens, he’ll already have a great appreciation for music in multiple genres because record collecting is as much – if not more – fun than card collecting.

Also I've been on a hardcore furniture-building kick lately in part because no one makes furniture that can hold all the records I have. I built that cabinet you see up there, and another one for the man cave. I even made the cabinet door out of old records that were no longer serviceable as records.

The record door!

So between building furniture, collecting records to fill said furniture, and oh yeah, raising a child, my time is spent. So the time has come to rethink those parts of the hobby I will stick with, and those I need to let go.

I am holding on to the Griffeys, most of the complete sets, the best trade fodder, all my non-Griffey keepers, and a few other things for when he is older and can appreciate them with me. BUT, I am letting go of a large quantities of cards. In fact, as of this past weekend the deed is already done.


I put this massive lot of cards on Craigslist and the Facebook Marketplace for $250, expecting to sell it for around $200 – and that’s exactly what happened. While I got interested parties from both sources (a lot of folks wanted to come over and dig through the boxes, but I wasn’t having that – I just wanted them gone), I ended up pulling the trigger with a young guy via Craigslist named Jeremy. He’s a fellow collector with two kids who lives near me and totally understands my position. He's a vintage set builder, so I've linked him to a few blogs here. Now all those boxes are now gone, but don’t worry. I still have plenty to trade.

No regerts!

Part of me wants to start liquidating some Griffeys, too; maybe start by unloading my Griffey duplicates in one big lot, then some of the choice cards from my personal collection, specifically ones that are worth a few bucks but to which I have no emotional attachment. For now I am fighting that urge, but it’s hard. Have you seen what Griffeys are going for recently? The Crusade purple is going for more than double what I paid, and the ’93 Finest refractor is going for triple. It is bananas. This kind of seller’s market hasn’t existed since the ‘90’s. I assume it’s the HOF induction that reminded a bunch of grown-up 90’s kids how much they used to want these cards.

Speaking of liquidation, this is not the only hobby that I have been slowly backing out of. Much to my wife’s delight I have been selling off my precious poster/print collection, piece by piece. I’ve even let go of several Radiohead posters which have always been the cornerstone of the collection (like Griffey is for my cards). I’ve made a lot of Radiohead poster collectors very happy in the last several weeks as some of the posters I’ve been selling off are truly scarce and very difficult to let go. It’s been nice having an extra inflow of cash, too, as my toy instrument expense is up 8000% this quarter.

A few recent pickups

There is one area of the collection in which I’ve made some real progress, and that’s the 20-year checklist. Remember that? I probably don’t need to tell you that I did not, in fact, complete the checklist by the self-imposed deadline of December 31st, 2016; but I am ridiculously close. I think I only need 13 more cards which puts me somewhere between 98 and 99 percent complete. I can’t wait to put this thing to bed, but it is taking longer than I thought I would…

Also the Griffey Generosity Box is still out there. We should see an update via blog post from the most recent recipient very soon!

Oh, and I joined the most recent Nachos Grande group break despite the fact that there are NO GRIFFEYS in Archives this year. Grrrr....

So long story short, I’ve slowed down considerably. I still search for Griffeys and follow the hobby on social media, but I haven’t been reading the blogs because I feel guilty about not posting, trading, or even simple things like building the new flagship base set. I still buy a few cards a week on COMC, but the majority of my collecting budget now goes to Discogs, a database and marketplace for record collectors.

As for what to expect from me going forward? I’m sorry to say not much. I will not be posting with any kind of regularity. I was hoping to at least continue features like the Great Griffey Frankenset and Design Timelines, but nope. I was excited to find the time to complete my Best Griffey Acquisitions of the Year posts (here are links to Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3) back in February (a month late), but a huge chunk of that (the runners-up) got cut because I didn’t have time to put it together. Big, research-intensive posts of yesteryear are simply not in the cards – pun intended.

Still, I have a few posts waiting in the wings that I'll try and bang out of the coming weeks. And I don't even want to think about how far behind I am on trade posts.

I do ask that anyone I owe cards to drop me an e-mail/tweet/whatevs and I will send you stuff. I’m sure there’s a ton I meant to send out that’s slipped my mind completely (because I suck at this now).

Again, I’m still collecting Griffeys, buying the occasional pack, and sniping new Griffeys on eBay and COMC semi-regularly, but card collecting as a whole has taken a back seat where it is nestled between a diaper bag and a car seat base. Oh, and it’s sticky for no apparent reason.

Don’t give up on me yet, though. Keep me on your blog roll. This post is not me bowing out of the blogsphere – quite the opposite. I’m letting you know that I’m still here, and I still plan on surprising you every now and again. Like today. Surprised?

Friday, February 3, 2017

The Best Griffey Acquisitions of 2016 Part 3: The Top Ten

No, there are no signed 19”x25” Upper Deck giveaway monsters, legendary ’93 Finest refractors, or Mickey Mantle autographs to be found in the Top 10 this year, but this was still one of the best years we’ve had over here at the Junior Junkie. And for the first time half the cards in the Top 10 are autographed. Enjoy!

10. 2015 Leaf 25th Anniversary Clear Autograph #/25

If you’re wondering if this card broke into the top 10 simply because it is printed on a lovely slab of thick, clear plastic, you’re absolutely right. Panini has embraced the clear autograph, and I’ve wanted one since I first saw an example on Panini’s blog last year. In addition to being on-card and hand-numbered, the clear plastic slab creates a floating autograph effect that is just killer. This Leaf 25th Anniversary set also includes some sweet-looking, autographed metal cards as well as buybacks. Gimmicky? Maybe. Maybe I like gimmicky.

9. 2005 Ultimate Signatures 500 HRs Dual Autograph #/250 (w/ Willie McCovey)

I feel a little guilty for not ranking this one higher - it’s quite a pairing, and I’m a big McCovey fan. Then again if McCovey wasn’t on this card it probably wouldn’t have broken the top 15. One of the coolest aspects of this one is that these are not sticker autos – both players actually handled this card. It belongs in a case with Junior’s 2006 Upper Deck base card which features The Kid posing with Willie who is sitting in a club car sporting a sweet green track suit. If I had a time machine I would travel back to that very moment with an ice chest full of beer and some lawn chairs and just shoot the shit with those two.

8. 1993 Pinnacle Cooperstown Dufex #22 /1000

Here is one of those cards you don’t even know exist until you start chasing a certain ‘90’s player in earnest. Then you find out that owning one is a rite of passage among your player-collecting brethren and you feel out of the loop, so you panic and overpay to get one. Actually I’m proud to report that I exhibited actual patience (for once) in acquiring this one, biding my time until someone started an auction far below its value as opposed to the $300 Buy It Now’s I’d been seeing. I ended up paying far less than I thought I‘d have to. Is that a tinge of fatherly wisdom I feel? Time will tell.

Only 1000 sets were made in Dufex, and most of those were given out at a big card show in Dallas in ‘93. Lord knows how the rest made it into circulation. And while a run of 1000 sounds like a lot, for 1993 that is hella-tiny. Combine that with the fact that it’s a real looker for its time, and you get what may be the most desirable Dufex Griffey there is.

7. 1996 Pinnacle Skylines #1

Skylines is a deceptively scarce insert with insertion ratios that appear reasonable until you factor in how difficult it was to find the packs they came in. Collectors are polarized about the design, too – there are a lot of haters out there, but I’m willing to bet some of that is attributable to the card’s scarcity and not the card itself. Personally I think these are really cool, and this one remains one of my favorite acetate cards ever made.

I acquired one back in April via an eBay auction and was very excited to do so, but in a bizarre twist I ended up finding another one in a dime box just a few days before writing this. A LITERAL DIME BOX. To put that in perspective, one of these sold on eBay a few months ago for over $200. I think that makes this my best dime box find ever.

6. 1991 Topps #790 Desert Shield & #392 All-Star Desert Shield

The highest-ranked non-auto/relic cards on this list and the only Topps cards in the upper half of the Top 30 list, the Desert Shield parallels are incredibly tough finds especially in decent condition. There’s a lot of attempted price-gouging with these, too, particularly with graded specimens (again, condition is a major factor with these). Personally I like my Griffeys unslabbed where I can help it, so these were perfect for me. A fun bit of cardboard with its own piece of historical context stamped right into the front.

Now that we’re nearing the end, I’ll admit that no one card stood head-and-shoulders above all the rest this year. You could shuffle these final five cards around in any order you want – they’re all potential #1’s on this list.

5. 1996 SPx Ken Griffey Jr. Commemorative Autograph #KGA1

I hate to admit it, but I know you other ‘90’s guys can relate: they totally got me with the holograms and sweet die-cutting here. I mean, I was 15, so how could I not be utterly smitten with this set? And it’s not like they still make cards this cool nowadays, so you could argue the design here stands the test of time. Oh, and the autograph is on-card! I don’t remember sticker autos even existing back then, but nowadays they are pretty much the standard. Back in 1996, it simply wasn’t done yet.

We have a pre-2000 Griffey autograph which is a big deal in itself, but this card and I have a personal, historical connection as well. I was still actively collecting when this card came out so I was very much aware of its existence. I even actively chased it back in ‘96, using all my (um, Mom’s) baseball card money on packs that only contained a single card, barely acknowledging the astronomical 1:2000-pack odds. I pined for it. On top of that a kid who lived down the street actually owned one. His parents bought for him, the lucky bastard. Still, I knew my day would come, and it finally did.

So yeah, this card would have made a perfectly valid #1. The act of ranking these cards at this level is pretty arbitrary to be honest, but tradition is tradition. Let’s move on…

4. 1998 SP Authentic Chirography Autograph /400 (slabbed BGS 8.5/Auto 10)

Of all the pre-2000 Griffey autographs out there, you are looking at what is arguably the best-looking one. It’s just SO. DAMN. COOL. I mean look at it - it’s kind of perfect. The design, the photo, the on-cardiness - It’s got a timeless quality that is the only reason I put it above the ’96 SPx auto.

Mine has a surface blemish that apparently brought the BGS surface grade down to a 7.5 which in turn gave us an overall grade of 8.5 among otherwise excellent subgrades. But who cares?! This is one of my favorite baseball cards. Period.

3. 1998 Upper Deck A Piece of the Action Game Jersey Relic #KG /300

In 1997 Upper Deck gave us the first-ever baseball card jersey relic. Their follow-up to that ground-breaking move is this insert from the following year. A Piece of the Action Game Jersey relics appeared in 1998 Upper Deck Series 1, 2, and Rookie Edition, the latter of which was the only place where you could find the Griffey.

As you can see the jersey is huge and the design one-of-a-kind for relic cards. Personally I think it resembles a Fleer insert more than anything. The card is not numbered, but there are known to be 300 of them.

This Griffey has reached legendary status among Griffey collectors for a few reasons: its relative scarcity, the size of the relic, its earliness in the relic game, and the fact that it is a true Mariners relic from when he actually played there. Most Griffey relic issues (by “most” I mean “almost all”) are Reds cards that were produced when relics were…well, I don’t want to say “run-of-the-mill,” but it’s hard not to. I can’t even tell you how many Reds relics I own, but I can probably count my pre-2000 Griffey relic cards on one hand. Actually I know I can – I have three, and one of those is a swatch from a damn Santa hat. This insert along with 1997 Game Jersey and a handful of others are the only relic options we Griffey collectors have from before he went to the Reds.

Even more legendary is the autographed version of this baby which is hand-numbered out of 24. Unfortunately I don’t have that one yet because I need money to live. There is also a Buhner from Series 2 has both a jersey relic and a bat chip. Drool…

2. 1998 Donruss Crusade #39 Green #/250

It's a testament to how crazy 2015 was that this, the relatively common (probably not the right word here) Green version of the legendary Crusade insert is #2 on this list just a year after the much rarer purple version of this card was #4. You are looking at the very last Griffey acquisition I made in 2016, and it only took a few glasses of bourbon at a family Christmas party to make me say "aw, screw it" and finally pull the trigger. So all I'm missing now is the #/25 Red version which just happens to be one of the true holy grails of Griffeydom. There is currently one on eBay for $10,000, and the amount of bourbon it would take me to pull that big ol' trigger would kill a horse. Green and Purple are plenty - a man's got to be able to sleep at night.


Thus we have reached the end of this year’s Top Griffey Acquisitions list. While this year’s #1 is not quite the doozy-and-a-half as it’s been in previous years, I think it’s one of the coolest cards I’ve ever seen let alone had the chance to own. Does it deserve to be #1? You be the judge:

1. 1992 Upper Deck Bloodlines Griffey Family Triple Autograph #/1992 (w/ Ken, Sr. & Craig)

For the third year in a row an autographed Upper Deck card gets the top spot. This card is not famous or popular by Griffey collecting standards. It’s not even particularly expensive (Craig and Ken, Sr. autos just don’t command that much money). Still, I think this is one of the coolest autograph issues ever made for any player.

It started with the 1992 Upper Deck Bloodlines card which demands a discussion all on its own. Somebody once asked me to make a list of the Top 10 Griffey cards of all time which I started to do before realizing a few minutes in that this would be a can of worms I didn’t want to open. There are just too many ways to go about it. Do you go by value? Autos and relics? What about ultra-rare parallels? Is it right to include 1/1’s?

Every Top 10 Griffey list I’ve ever seen includes numerous cards that sell for well into the hundreds and sometimes thousands which is great if that’s how you are ranking Griffeys. My list was a little different, made up of Griffeys I considered to be important and/or iconic. And guess which card that currently sells for $0.43 on COMC made my list? The plain, unsigned 1992 Upper Deck #85 Bloodlines base card featuring all three Griffeys in Mariner blue. It’s not expensive or rare by any measure, but if I ever revisit a Top 10 Griffeys project, this card will be on it.

So like I said, it started with a 43-cent card I consider to be among the greatest Griffey cards of all time. A company called Scoreboard got a hold of 1,992 of them, had them signed on-card by all three Griffey men, inserted them into specially-made, ultra-thick, bottom-loading cases, and sold them through QVC (yes, the shopping channel where you can buy overpriced gemstones and massive quantities of knives at 2am).

I’m also happy to report that of those 1,992, I got one of the better ones. I’ve seen versions of this where they must have been signing with the same pen for a while and the signatures are splotchy and missing ink here and there. The autos on this one are bright and thick with ink, and shade of blue that is very similar to that on their uniforms. I am just smitten with this card and proud to name it my #1 Griffey acquisition of the year.

Now’s a good a time as any to announce that I foresee a collecting slowdown for 2017. I still refuse to stop blogging, but as baby becomes more mobile and expensive, there’s bound to be less and less room for active Griffey acquisition. I still plan to complete the 1996 Beckett Tribute checklist as well as acquire all the coolest new Griffeys for 2017, but I can’t promise I’ll be able to keep pace with the last few years.

Then again I said all this last year and still had one of my biggest Griffey-collecting years ever, so don’t be surprised if I land a Red Crusade or something insane like that. Frankly I don’t really know what I’m going to do day-to-day anymore except perhaps not blog enough.

See y'all again in 2018! (just kidding...I hope)

Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Best Griffey Acquisitions of 2016 Part 2: #11-20

I more than doubled the number of Griffey autos I have this year from 13 to 28, and I even managed to add a few of the pre-2000 variety which tend to be among the most sought-after. Get used to seeing ink on this list.

20. 1998 Finest The Man #1 #/500

If this were a list of Griffeys that look like pieces of delicious candy, this card would probably be #1. The #/75 refractor version sells for a hefty premium, even for a numbered-to-75 card from 1998, for the simple fact that it looks so darn cool. And delicious. I can’t blame folks for driving the price up – this may be my favorite Finest insert ever, and that in itself is a zesty mouthful.

19. 1994 Bowman’s Best #40 Refractor & 1995 Bowman’s Best #49 Refractor

At 1:9 packs these don’t seem like they should be as rare as they actually are. At $5 per 4-card pack, you had to spend about $45 to pull a single refractor. The 1995 numbers aren’t that far off from these. I’m thinking overall production figures had to be pretty low considering how few come up for sale.

The best thing about these cards is that they are some of the earliest refractors you can get, and they are beautiful. I put off pulling the trigger on them for a long time, but I needed them for the 1996 Beckett Tribute checklist, so I just went ahead and did it this year with no regrets. Is it just me or were refractors shinier back then?

18. 1999 SP Signature Edition Autograph #Jr.

I used to say that a good measure for the quality of a player collection, especially a player from the ’80’s and ‘90’s, can be measured by the oddballs it contains. This is still true to a point, but when it comes to top-tier Griffey collections I’ve learned there a lot of other measures. Things like sub-100 ‘90’s parallels and the scarcest of ‘90’s inserts (seeing a trend here?); but the most popular measure of a great Griffey collection seems to be the quantity of pre-2000 autographs.

Any Griffey collector will tell you pre-2000 autos are where it’s at. There are only 59 (give or take) specimens to be had with the priciest of those being hand-numbered to very small quantities. Many of the cards on the list aren’t even official – they’re aftermarket releases from the likes of QVC and the Highland Mint that just happen to use pre-2000 cards. Still, there are collectors out there whose mission is to obtain every one of them, and there are even a few who have actually done it – I’ve seen the pictures. It’s quite a feat, and expensive on a level never really discussed on this blog. We’re talking a literal fortune.

This is one of those pre-2000 autos, albeit one of the more common ones. There is nothing really spectacular about it apart from the fact that it’s on-card (as most were at this time) and pre-2000, but that’s enough for me. I don’t plan on shelling out thousands trying to get every Griffey auto from that era, but when one comes up for a reasonable price and if I’m feeling saucy, I’ll bite.

17. 2000 SPx Signatures Autograph #X-KG

This is as close to a pre-2000 auto as you can get without it actually one. It was probably signed while Junior was still officially with Seattle. It barely edges out the genuine pre-2000 auto for the fact that I think it’s just a tiny bit rarer and I like the design more.

16. 2001 Upper Deck Ultimate Collection Ultimate Signatures #KG Silver #/24 & Bronze #/70

The gold is a bit out of my price range at the moment, but I got these for roughly the price the unsigned relic versions go for (which is still kind of a lot for a baseball card). Still, it’s a popular design, and the cards themselves look great. Plus they’re both on-card. Maybe I’ll go for the rainbow in 2017…

15. 2008 Upper Deck Sweet Spot Signatures Autograph Bat Barrel #KG5 #/243

This is my first autographed bat barrel card as well as my first Griffey White Sox auto. While it’s still weird to see Junior in a White Sox uni, I definitely have a fascination with his cards from that era.

14. 2006 Fleer Autographics Autograph #KG /150

You are looking at the first ever Griffey autograph from Fleer. Upper Deck, who owned exclusivity to Junior’s signature on cards, acquired the troubled brand just the year before after Fleer declared bankruptcy. Upper Deck would go on to release a total of five Griffey autographs under the flagship Fleer brand right up through the final Fleer set in 2007. They also released two Griffey autos under the Fleer Tradition brand this same year including a 1989 Fleer rookie buyback auto that I totally want; but since 2006 Fleer was released in April and 2006 Fleer Tradition was released in August, this one was definitely the first. It’s a little piece of cardboard history only collectors can appreciate.

13. 2000 Upper Deck Game Jersey Autograph Jersey Relic #HKG (unnumbered)

It’s an auto-relic! One of the few I have for Junior, this is one of the first of its kind. It was released under the Game Jersey banner which is how the first jersey relic was released in 1997 and which continued right up until Upper Deck had to stop making baseball cards altogether in 2010. It appears to contain a piece of Mariners jersey, too, which is rare for a Reds card (not as rare as a Mariners card with a Reds relic, obviously, but still rare). There are numbered versions of this that go for much more, but not nearly as much as ones from only the year before when he was still a Mariner. These are a perfect example of the disparity between Mariners-era and Reds-era Griffey autograph prices. It’s a great design, too.

12. 2005 Upper Deck Reflections Dual Signatures Dual Autograph #KGKG Red #/99 (w/ Ken, Sr)

This is the red parallel of a card I already have, but it’s just so cool that it is getting yet another high spot in the Top 30. And being that both Griffeys are in their Cincy reds on the card front, this parallel is the most appropriate one.

11. 1994 SP Holoview F/X Special F/X #12 Die-Cut Red

I remember when these were brand-new and, frankly, pretty amazing. The moving hologram featured a changing image of the player’s face as you turn the card. Griffey’s is particularly creepy because at first he is smiling his massive Junior-smile, then as you rotate the card it slowly turns into a stoic stare like your smart-ass older brother might have done that time you made a lame-ass joke. There are thought to be around 700 of these floating around, and they consistently sell in the triple-figures. An iconic ‘90’s insert.

Okay - this is it! This next post is the big one: the Top Ten New Griffeys of 2016! Hope you like awesome stuff.