Thursday, March 1, 2018

Top 30 Griffey Acquisitions of 2017 Part 3: The Top Ten

Three posts in a row! Don't worry - I didn't get fired or anything...

Just about every year when I make this list there is a magic number of cards that could all have been number one; but as it’s a countdown decisions had to be made and cards ranked all the way to the top. Last year the number was five – as in any one of the Top 5 would have made a perfectly reasonable #1. The year before (2015 – my phattest Griffey-collecting year to date), that number was 3. In 2013, my first year of real hard-core “adult” collecting, it was 1 (the 1993 Finest Refractor).

This year the number is three; so for those final three cards at the top of the list the order is more or less completely arbitrary. This isn’t really important information, but a fair amount of juggling happens when putting this list together, and in fairness to all the awesome Griffey cards at the top, I want you to know about it.

One of my favorite aspects of this year’s list is that there are only four autographs in the Top 10 this year, only one of which cracked the Top 5. Anyone can sprinkle their Top 10 with autographs (I’ve done it), but those non-auto cards are what really round out a collection.

Here’s the Top 10:

10. 1997 Pinnacle Inside #19 Diamond Edition and 1998 Pinnacle Inside #24 Diamond Edition

As you can see I also picked up the 1998 version of this same parallel, but WHO CARES? The 1997 version (on the left) is one of the true bastards of the uber-scarce ‘90’s parallel game. These are not parallels one thinks of when thinking about rare ‘90’s parallels, but they should be. It’s an unsung true white whale among player collectors. The seeding was tough enough, but add to that the relatively low availability of the cans (packs) compounded by the fact that a huge quantity of the product was eventually destroyed due to poor sales, and you have a real butthole of a card to find. So even if you are prepared to overpay dearly for it (like I did), you need a solid gold horseshoe up your patootie to even find one in the first place. And brother, those things make walking a real chore.

9. 1994 Signature Rookies Autographs

Signature Rookies are some of the less-desirable pre-2000 autograph issues, but pre-2000 autographs they are. The full Griffey portion of the checklist is six cards with each Griffey getting a card with one other Griffey. Then there are two autographed versions per Griffey. It’s a bit confusing, but it makes total sense – trust me. And this is the year I finally nabbed all the toughest Juniors.

8. 1997 Pinnacle X-Press Metal Works Ingots #1 Gold #/200

Behold! The most expensive doorstop I’ve ever bought. I picked up the bronze last year and was so smitten with its ability to drive in a nail that I decided to go for the set. I still need the silver so somebody hit me up! Oh, and I accidentally picked up TWO of the gold version (don’t ask), but it’s cool because now I have one for the collection and one for the toolbox.

7. 2014 Panini Classics Membership Materials Signatures Prime Game-Used Batting Glove/Bat/Patch Triple Relic Autograph #22 #/5

Check out that card description. It’s a mouthful, right? This thing has one of the longest card descriptions on the Beast and for good reason – it’s a lot. A sexy, sexy lot. I continue to have mixed feelings about sticker autos in general especially on cards like this, but you can’t deny this thing is a looker and a half. Logos shmogos.

A quick confession: I had completely forgotten I acquired this card when putting this Top 30 list together because I got it through a private sale (those seem to be the ones I always forget). Then I came across it literally while scanning cards for this very post and immediately had to find a place for it in the Top 10 and bump all the other Top 30 selections back one. In the end I decided it was better than the gold ingot but just a little less cool than this next relic:

6. 2017 Panini National Treasures #136 Jersey Button Relic #/5

I have been drooling over unique relics like buttons and laundry tags for ages, then one cold night in November while sitting in the Emergency Room with my wife, I finally nabbed one! It was definitely the most newsworthy thing to happen on that particular day. Peep that sweet BUTTON y’all!

5. 1999 Upper Deck Century Legends Epic Signatures Autograph

Pre-2000 autos nearly always get a pass to the upper portion of the list, and I have no reason to break that rule here. And that is one lovely, early, on-card, true Mariners autograph. There is also an arbitrarily super-expensive “Century” parallel that is hand-numbered to 100 (and which I have a lot of problems with that I’ll go over in a future post), but I am beyond content with this here lowly regular version.

4. 1991 Donruss Advertising Sheet

I’ve been on the hunt for one of these incredibly rare sheets for several years because I just love alternate versions that slay the original. This particular one is so scarce that most Griffey collectors, even those several steps above “casual,” aren’t even aware of them. The sheets themselves were printed on thin paper so this is nothing like card stock, but we get a fresh look at what the uggo 1991 Griffey base card may have looked like had Donruss been more proficient at choosing base card photos. I actually landed a handful of these sheets and painstakingly cut out the Griffey from one of them so I could put it in a more standard case. I often wonder how many other collectors out there would wince at all the things I cut up for the sake of a neat collection.

3. 1996 Ultra Thunder Clap #11 Gold Medallion

I was so proud of this acquisition that I ACTUALLY WROTE A BLOG POST which is a pretty big deal for me lately. In that post I did some fuzzy math and figured out that this Gold Medallion parallel is more than likely scarcer than the famously scarce and intricately die-cut Hitting Machines Gold Medallion from the same set. The Gold Medallions of 1996 Ultra are an intimidating bunch, but I’m happy to report that with the acquisition of this card I am officially their daddy.

2. 1989 Mother’s Cookies Sealed Bag

I told you there would be cookies.

This may be the weirdest item in all my collections combined let alone on this list, but it’s also one of the most easily appreciable by non-collector folk. Simply put, it’s a thirty year-old bag of cookies. The fact that it has a Griffey card in it, and a rookie no less, is the only thing keeping these cookies out of the garbage at this point. Sure, it’s a card of which I already have many copies including an uncut sheet, but how many of these sealed bags do you think are still around? The fact that there’s even one is a surprise. And it’s MINE!!! [Update – there are at least two. Insert sad emoji here.]

Gotta be honest – I almost gave that bag of cookies the top slot on this list, but eventually thought better. Ladies and gentlemen, the first patch relic:

1. 1998 SP Authentic Jersey Swatch 5x7 Jumbo Patch Relic /125

Okay, technically Leaf/Donruss released a small insert set of Frank Thomas patches in 1997, so it’s not the VERY first patch relic card, but it’s the first patch card of anyone not named Frank Thomas. It’s also incredibly scarce at only 125 copies each, certainly fewer than the iconic 1997 UD Game Jersey card, and I’m convinced that patch is cut from the very same jersey.

The crazy thing about this card is that it’s not well-known by collectors, so I was able to scoop it up for way less than I should have. I want to believe that if I were to list it today with the secret being out and all, it might fetch a few hundred dollars more than I paid for it. Of course we may never know because I ain’t selling anytime soon, but you already knew that.

So there it is – the spoils of my weirdest year yet. It’s true that I blogged almost never, but I also completed a few checklists and picked off some cool, unique Griffey items. I like to think my collection is becoming a real collector’s collection – not just a bunch of autos or 1/1’s, but one full of unique and special cards that someone hard into the Griffey game can appreciate. Or lovers of coconut cookies. I can’t afford to be picky.

Fun fact: I officially began my Top 30 Griffey Acquisitions of 2018 list, and it’s already up to 17 cards. In February! Things are looking up.

Thanks for reading. And for not deleting me from your blog roll after 5 months of silence. That was dope of you.


  1. Incredible pick ups. Your Griffey collection is truly the best.

    So many great cards, from the Thunderclaps Gold Medallion to the Metal Works. Congrats on the big year!

  2. It's a winning streak!

  3. Wow great cards. I ate a TON of Mothers cookies in the 90s so I could pull Nolan Ryan and Tim Salmon cards.

  4. The 1999 UD Century Legends Epic Signatures Griffey is awesome! Well all of the stuff in your Top 30 has been, but that card is my favorite. It's such a great looking card. If I ever win the lottery, I would build this set.

  5. Nice list.

    I have an unopened box of Kraft Mac n Cheese from 1987 or 1988 because it has a Ryne Sandberg card on the outside. So no that weird...right?

  6. If u need a home for the second gold one I can think of a smaller griffey collector who doesn't have one :)

    Nice pickups. Hope to see more new posts soon