Monday, February 2, 2015

Wallet Card Wars: '89 UD Griffey vs. Jose Abreu 1/1 Auto

Give Grandpa Joe back his tobacco money, Charlie Bucket - the Golden Ticket has been found under the fluorescent lights of a small LCS outside of New Orleans, La. Someone pulled the 2014 Stadium Club Jose Abreu Electric Foil Autograph 1/1, and I was lucky enough to be there with my #WalletCard.

Now I didn't pull it, but I did snap a photo of my trusty '89 UD Griffey rookie alongside this soon-to-be monster eBay sale (just imagine the seller fees!). It's certainly among the best possible pulls from a highly lauded brand, maybe even one of the best pulls from any 2014 product.

The card is great and everything, but how does it stack up against the mass-produced-but-legendary crown jewel of the overproduction era? As an extremely biased Griffey collector, I feel qualified to make that call.

I've decided to pit these cards against each other in a one-on-one, cardo-y-cardo battle to decide which is really the better card. It's a battle 25 years in the making. The competition is based on ten categories and an eleventh in case a tiebreaker is needed (gosh, do you think it'll go that far?). Here we go:

Category 1: Rookie Logo

The little home plate RC has been making the rounds on Topps and Bowman product for a few years now. Is it really better than the only-used-for-one-set star and banner from '89 Upper Deck? No. Just no.

Griffey 1, Abreu 0

Category 2: Photo


Griffey 2, Abreu 0

Category 3: Rarity

While there are plenty Abreu cards around that look exactly like this (but with different effects and most with no autograph), there is really only one of this particular card in the whole world. There are thousands of the Griffey. Abreu makes it onto the board.

Griffey 2, Abreu 1

Category 4: Value


Griffey 2, Abreu 2

Category 5: Uniqueness

Back in '89 the Griffey would have done a lot better in this category - it was strikingly unique back then. The 1/1 auto of baseball's biggest prospect from a twice-retired but universally revered brand - that's a spicy meatball of unique, IMHO.

Griffey 2, Abreu 3

Category 6: Print Quality

Again, back in '89 the Griffey would be a king in this category. But it's not 1989. Printing technology has come along way, giving the Abreu a very unfair advantage here.

Griffey 2, Abreu 4

Category 7: Importance

This is a measure of the card's importance in the area of the sport and the hobby as a whole. The Abreu doesn't really stand a chance here what with the Griffey being such a boon to the industry when it came out and even in subsequent years. Then again that print quality category was kind of a gimme, too. I feel no guilt whatsoever.

Griffey 3, Abreu 4

Category 8: Pedigree

This is a measure of the perceived authenticity of the card. '89 Upper Deck's pedigree back in '89 was excellent what with their tamper-evident foil packs and holograms on every card. On the other hand, that Abreu came out of the pack with a small amount of damage, and the LCS owner upon reporting the pull and the damage to Topps was told they would be sending out a replacement card. A perfect copy of a card sent directly by the manufacturer to the lucky recipient? It doesn't get much more authentic than that.

Griffey 3, Abreu 5

Category 9: Character


Griffey 4, Abreu 5

Category 10: Cool Factor

This one is heavily debatable. On one hand we have a card that's cool because of it's high print quality, neat foil effects, and the inclusion of an autograph, not to mention that it's a 1/1 of one of the biggest prospects of the last few years. That's pretty darn cool.

On the other hand, we have a card recognizable to millions featuring one of the biggest prospects of all time that has already panned out into a first-ballot hall-of-famer. Abreu's future is uncertain at this point, but Griffey's legacy is secured. And check out those gold chains in the photo. Gangsta.

Tough call, but here's my line of thinking:

Now, which is cooler, really?

Still not sure? Let's try a few more:

I think I've made my point. I'm giving this one to the Griffey.

Griffey 5, Abreu 5

So here we go to the tie-breaker! Who saw this coming???

Tie-Breaker Category: Desirability

The Abreu is an amazing card. So, do you want it? I must admit that I I can sell it. I see dollar signs, and if it were mine it would already be on the 'Bay. I might even pay for enhanced visibility and promote the sale on the blog and everything to squeeze ever possible dime out of that card. Then, I would use that money to buy Griffeys.

How about the Griffey? You want it? I want it. So do lots of people, many of whom don't even collect cards. It's an icon.

Another toughie. Tell you what: what if we took monetary value out of the equation. You're walking down the street and someone comes up to you and says, "Hey, you want one of these?" Which would you choose then?

I think the answer depends on you. Are you a Chisox fan? A rookie prospector? A card flipper? Well, you probably want that Abreu.

Are you anybody else? You probably want the Griffey.

No contest.

Griffey wins.


  1. If Topps makes a replacement, is it really still 1/1 ? I think it would be hilarious (and tragic) if the replacement card came back numbered 2/1 .

    1. It would indeed. I'm certain the original is being sent back to be destroyed. I'll inquire when I stop by the LCS for my annual hobby box of flagship Series 1.

    2. You may already know all about this (and maybe can even offer more insight about it), but the 89 Griffey also had it's share of recall requests - being card #1 in the set, several copies had centering issues are came damaged in the pack. Upper Deck ended printing full sheets of just Griffeys to A- get the card out there and B- to satisfy customers that pulled a damaged version in their packs. This is what I learned from reading a book called "Mint Condition"

    3. Isn't that crazy? There are more copies of that Griffey card than any other in the set, and yet it it by far the most valuable. They might even outnumber the Donruss and Fleer rookies which are PLENTIFUL and not as valuable. I can barely imagine whole sheets of uncut Griffey #1's, and I wonder if any survived. There are a few cards I consider Holy Grails, but I don't know what I would even call one of those sheets.

  2. Miley is the current generation's Madonna? I would've thought it would be Lady GaGa but then again it's not 2010 anymore.

    And I'll be honest, when I see those two cards I see the way the "investing" part of the hobby has evolved. The Griffey represents the junk wax era and how investing in mass produced cards cost people hundreds, maybe even thousands. The Abreu is a representation of the measures the baseball card industry took to avoid the market collapsing again.

    At the end of the day though, given the way this post's title is, I'd give it to the Griffey RC. I'd rather have it sitting in my wallet and getting damaged than have the 1/1 Abreu which could probably repay all my college loans sit in my wallet, get damaged and decrease in value.

    1. Funny you should mention that. I originally intended to use a Gaga image, but changed my mind at the last second. Miley is a little more "now." Were this Bryce Harper and a couple years ago, I would have gone Gaga.

      And yeah, maybe the title was a little misleading. I was shooting for my simple wallet card versus a titan pull. Anyone who would use that Abreu as their wallet card must have some big brass clackers and insanely deep pockets (or possibly brain damage).

      P.S. I voted for you as most generous blogger!

  3. The difference is you'd better sell that Abreu now because it probably won't be worth much in a few years (plenty more 1/1 to come, even if he does live up to his potential), and you'd better sell that Griffey 20 years ago because...hmm ok, it's not really that much of a difference (there're an estimated 3 M copies of that Griffey out there. And it's still worth $20 in mint condition)

  4. I want both. You could have stole that 1/1 and mailed it to me with one of your 500+ UD Griffeys.

    And I thought we were buds.....

  5. Id like your opinion and thoughts about the card in question here at -theemambamvp24@WordPress
    What a wild search this has become to find answers. . .