Sunday, August 9, 2009
Top Cards of the 1980s: #5, Ken Griffey Jr. 1989 Upper Deck
The number 5 card in the countdown is an absolute must-have for collectors. To me, Griffey Jr. is one of the brightest spots of the steroid era, along with Greg Maddux. It is terribly unfortunate that injuries sidelined his run toward Hank's record, but he has still accumulated more than 600 homers naturally.
A 13-time All Star, 10-time Gold Glove winner, and winner of the 1997 AL MVP award, Griffey should be a unanimous selection to Cooperstown on the first ballot. It's hard to find any fault with his career. I do hope, however, that Mr. Griffey hangs it up after this season. It has been great to see him finish his career in a Mariners uniform, but his current .220 batting average tells the story of a man whose best days are behind him.
Griffey was THE reason the 1989 Upper Deck set was a must-have for collectors. The set also contains key rookie cards of Randy Johnson, Gary Sheffield, and John Smoltz, among others. This card is a frank reminder of what Upper Deck used to be. I do not think the average collector would look at UD's products today with the same regard as we had 20 years ago. That's why for me, Topps' exclusive license with MLB will have little practical effect on my collecting.