Thursday, June 18, 2015

The 20-Year Checklist: I Finally Face My Griffey Collecting Demons

[Spoiler: I actually completed this project in late 2018 - you can read way too much about it here.]

Back in the early 90’s my Mom used to buy me issues of Mad Magazine from the grocery. As I got older that evolved into Beckett. Then one day in 1996, Beckett gave us something new:

This is my copy of Beckett Tribute Issue 15: Ken Griffey, Jr. from 1996. It is at once my favorite and most despised periodical ever produced - favorite because it’s all about Griffey; despised because it made me realize that my dream of owning one of every Griffey card produced was probably never going to happen.

The problem? Towards the back of the magazine is a four-page checklist and price guide revealing every Griffey produced through early 1996 and its inflated pre-crash value. To me this list was the big selling point - my first Griffey database, the original Beast; and I began faithfully filling in boxes the very hour I brought it home.

The excitement didn’t last, though. I realized just how few cards I actually had, and how expensive the ones I still needed were. Griffey/Mantle dual auto? ’93 Finest Refractor? These were thousand-dollar cards, and there were dozens more with values in the hundreds. On top of that these prices had nowhere to go but up, right?

Fnuh? Oh, wait. I have one of those.
Yeesh - and that's without a Mantle autograph.

It was time to pursue other interests, and that was it for me and baseball cards. Before this magazine was published I was busting several packs a week and buying base cards from card shops at three bucks a pop. After the magazine, I bought less than dozen packs over the next 15 years, and that was just to see what the cards looked like. I wouldn’t do any serious collecting again until late 2012.

The worst part was that this realization cost me $4.95 ($6.75 in Canada).

Then, this past Monday, 19 years after first taking it home from the Sav-a-Center and letting it crush my collecting dreams, I dug that old magazine out and perused the same checklist I’d used when I was a kid. I snickered at the pitiful number of checked boxes, then gave the list a quick once-over thinking, “Got it, got it, got it, got it…” Then I realized that the same list that drove me out of the hobby as a kid doesn’t seem quite as daunting as it used to. I already have the priciest cards as well as most of the oddballs and pre-rookies. And I know for a fact that almost none of these prices have held over the years. Dare I say I could finish this thing?

And I did - I said it. And I’m doing it.

I’m setting a goal here and now to complete the 1996 Beckett Tribute Ken Griffey, Jr. checklist by the end of 2016.

It may be tough going for some of the rarer cards, but it’s a childhood dream. And I really do believe it can be done.

I began this project on Monday by cross-referencing the checklist against The Beast and the physical cards in the Griffey binders (I even found a new parallel I didn’t even know was there), all the while picking off some of the cheaper Griffeys with COMC credits. I ticked all the boxes I needed to tick, and I now have a much shorter list of those Griffeys I need to put this thing to bed. For the most part it’s parallels - a lot of Artist’s Proofs, Gold Signatures, and 1st Day Issues. Nothing with Mickey Mantle’s autograph on it, thank goodness.

Here’s what the list looks like now:

God bless you, unbroken columns of little black spots.

We’re only three days into this project, and already it has lent my collecting efforts a refreshing new focus. My Griffey shopping has been evolving over the last several years from random quantity purchases (eBay lots, mostly), to acquiring all of the cheapest Griffeys I didn’t already have (COMC, mostly), to single-card whale-hunting (eBay again). Now that I have most of the whales I want, this list is where I’ll be finding new target cards. No more random deal-spotting for this guy.

I am posting the needed Griffeys in a new want list titled “1996 Beckett Tribute Checklist” under my Official Griffey Wantlist tab. I’ll be keeping up with it religiously as I acquire the necessary cards.

As for the actual checklist, there are 727 total items (I say “items” because there are a number of multi-card sets with only one check box, meaning there are many more than 727 cards on the list). Today, June 19, 2015, I have 570 of the items on the checklist or just over 78%. I still have 157 items to track down over the coming months before the 20 year time limit I’ve imposed on myself is reached. Tick, tock.

When it comes to a specific time limit, I can’t seem to find exactly when this magazine was published (generally speaking, it was early 1996 based on the last items that made it onto the checklist, but I have no specific release date); so I’m taking the benefit of the doubt here and imposing a time limit of December 31st, 2016 at midnight. That gives me 562 days (2016 is a leap year) to acquire 158 Griffeys or roughly one Griffey every 3 ½ days. Cake. Ish.

There remains a little editing to be done, but below is the rough list as it is at the time of this post. I’ve adapted the card names to fit the format of The Beast. I have a little finagling to do regarding the jumbos and multi-card items, but not much. So, without further ado, my target cards for the next 17 1/2 months:

1988 Best San Bernardino Spirit Team Set
1988 Best San Bernardino Spirit Team Set Platinum
1989 Mother’s Cookies Ken Griffey, Jr. Set #1-4
1990 Donruss Super Diamond Kings #6
1991 Classic Game #120 (purple)
1991 Donruss Previews #4
1991 Mariners Country Hearth #28 (w/ Ken, Sr.)
1991 Pepsi Set #1-8
1991 Sunflower Seeds #11
1991 Topps Desert Shield #790
1991 Topps Desert Shield #392 All-Star
1992 Alrak Griffey Golden Moments Set #1-10 (These are those phone card thingies)
1992 Classic/Best Autograph Card #AU1 /3100
1992 Donruss Previews #7
1992 Mother’s Cookies Mariners Team Set #2
1992 Score Samples #1
1992 Sunflower Seeds #14
1992 Topps Gold #50
1992 Triple Play Previews #1
1992 Upper Deck All-Star Fan Fest #24 Gold
1993 Alrak Griffey 24 Taco Time Set #1-6
1993 Alrak Griffey Triple Play #1
1993 Colla Diamond Marks #44
1993 Colla Diamond Marks Art #3
1993 Colla Diamond Marks Prototypes #5
1993 Diamond Marks #44
1993 Diamond Marks Art #3
1993 Diamond Marks Prototypes #5
1993 Finest All-Star Jumbos #110
1993 Mother’s Cookies Mariners Team Set #4
1993 O-Pee-Chee Premier Star Performers #9 Foil
1993 Pinnacle Cooperstown #22 Dufex
1993 Stadium Club #707 1st Day Issue
1993 Topps Full Shots #2
1993 Upper Deck Fifth Anniversary Jumbo #A1
1993 Upper Deck #355 Gold Hologram
1993 Upper Deck #55 Gold Hologram (w/ Buhner & Mitchell)
1993 Upper Deck #525 Checklist Gold Hologram
1993 Upper Deck Iooss Collection #WI13 Jumbo
1994 Bowman’s Best #R40 Refractor
1994 Bowman’s Best #X96 (w/ Johnny Damon) Refractor
1994 Collector’s Choice #117 Gold Signature
1994 Collector’s Choice #317 Checklist Gold Signature
1994 Collector’s Choice #324 Checklist Gold Signature
1994 Collector’s Choice #340 Checklist Gold Signature
1994 Collector’s Choice #634 Up Close & Personal Gold Signature
1994 Donruss Diamond Kings Jumbo #14
1994 Donruss Dominators #A9 Jumbo
1994 Donruss Dominators #B6 Jumbo
1994 Donruss Elite #45
1994 Donruss Long Ball Leaders #5
1994 Extra Bases #168
1994 Extra Bases Game Breakers #14
1994 Finest #232 Jumbo
1994 Finest #232 Refractor
1994 Fleer Golden Moments #4 Jumbo
1994 Mother’s Cookies
1994 O-Pee-Chee All-Star Redemptions #8 Jumbo
1994 O-Pee-Chee All-Star Redemptions #8 Jumbo Foil
1994 Pacific Gold Prisms #2
1994 Pinnacle #100 Artist’s Proof
1994 Post Canadian #10
1994 Score Cycle #TC17
1994 Signature Rookies Flip Cards Signatures #AU2 /1000 (w/ Craig auto)
1994 Signature Rookies Flip Cards Signatures #AU5 /500 (w/ Craig and Ken auto)
1994 Signature Rookies Flip Cards Signatures #AU4 /1000 (w/ Ken, Sr. auto)
1994 Signature Rookies Flip Cards Signatures #AU6 /500 (w/ Ken, Sr and Jr. auto)
1994 SP Holoview #12 Red
1994 SP Previews #WR3
1994 Sportflics FanFest All-Stars #AS7 (w/ Lenny Dykstra)
1994 Stadium Club #85 First Day Issue
1994 Stadium Club #529 Division Leaders First Day Issue
1994 Topps # 400 Spanish
1994 Topps #388 All-Star Spanish (w/ Lenny Dykstra)
1994 Topps #606 Stat Twins Spanish
1994 Topps Superstar Samplers Cello Pack #19
1994 Ultra On-Base Leaders #6
1994 Upper Deck All-Star Jumbos #48 125th Anniversary
1994 Upper Deck All-Star Jumbos Gold #1
1994 Upper Deck All-Star Jumbos Gold 125th Anniversary
1994 Upper Deck All-Star Jumbos Promo #48
1994 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. Checklist Jumbos set #1-4
1994 Upper Deck Next Generation #6 Electric Diamond
1995 Bowman’s Best #R49 Refractors/Diffraction Foil
1995 Collector's Choice #70 Gold Signature
1995 Collector's Choice #88 What's the Call? Gold Signature
1995 Collector’s Choice You Crash the Game #CG8A 7/2 Gold
1995 Collector’s Choice You Crash the Game #CG8B 8/24 Gold
1995 Collector’s Choice You Crash the Game #CG8C 9/15 Gold
1995 Collector's Choice SE #125 Gold Signature
1995 Collector's Choice SE #26 Record Pace Gold Signature
1995 Collector's Choice SE #261 Checklist Gold Signature
1995 Donruss #340 Press Proof
1995 Donruss All-Stars #AL8
1995 Donruss Elite #54
1995 Finest #118 Refractor
1995 Finest Power Kings #PK10
1995 Leaf Limited Lumberjacks #4
1995 Pacific Prisms #126
1995 Pinnacle #128 Artist's Proof
1995 Pinnacle #304 Swingmen Artist's Proof
1995 Pinnacle #447 CL Artist's Proof
1995 Pinnacle #450 CL Artist's Proof (w/ Bagwell, Piazza, Thomas)
1995 Pinnacle #447 CL Museum Collection
1995 Pinnacle Team Pinnacle #TP7 Bonds Side Dufex
1995 Pinnacle Team Pinnacle #TP7 Griffey Side Dufex
1995 Pinnacle White Hot #2
1995 Score #447 Platinum
1995 Score Dream Team #DG7
1995 Score Rules #SR1
1995 Score Rules #SR1 Jumbo
1995 Select #89 Artist's Proof
1995 Select #243 Checklist Artist's Proof
1995 Select #250 Checklist Artist's Proof (w/ Bagwell, Piazza, Thomas)
1995 Select Big Sticks #BS2
1995 SP Championship #185 Diecut
1995 SP Championship Fall Classic #1
1995 SP Championship Fall Classic #1 Diecut
1995 Sportflix #1 Artist's Proofs
1995 Sportflix #168 Checklist Artist's Proof
1995 Sportflix Double Take #9 (w/ Barry Bonds)
1995 Sportflix ProMotion #PM1
1995 Stadium Club #241 1st Day Issue
1995 Stadium Club #521 Extreme Corps 1st Day Issue
1995 Stadium Club Super Skills #11
1995 Stadium Club Virtual Extremists #VRE2
1995 Summit #1 Nth Degree
1995 Summit #174 Bat Speed Nth Degree
1995 Summit #195 Checklist Nth Degree
1995 Summit Big Bang #BB1
1995 UC3 #124 In Depth Artist's Proof
1995 Ultra Hitting Machines #6 Gold Medallion
1995 Ultra Home Run Kings #1 Gold Medallion
1995 Ultra Power Plus #2 Gold Medallion
1995 Upper Deck #100 Electric Diamond Gold
1995 Upper Deck Predictor #R45 RBI Leader
1995 Upper Deck Special Edition #255 Gold
1995 Zenith Z-Team #2
1996 Collector's Choice #310 Gold Signature
1996 Collector's Choice You Make the Play #16 Gold Signature
1996 Donruss Long Ball Leaders #6
1996 Donruss Power Alley #10
1996 Donruss Power Alley #10 Diecut
1996 Donruss Samples #4
1996 Score Big Bats #2
1996 Score Numbers Game #3
1996 Topps Finest #M16 Refractor
1996 Topps Finest #M25 Refractor
1996 Ultra #126 Gold Medallion
1996 Ultra Checklist #4 Gold Medallion
1996 Ultra Diamond Producers #3
1996 Ultra Diamond Producers #3 Gold Medallion
1996 Ultra Home Run Kings #6
1996 Ultra Home Run Kings #6 Gold Medallion
1996 Ultra Power Plus #3
1996 Ultra Power Plus #3 Gold Medallion
1996 Ultra Prime Leather #6 Gold Medallion
1996 Ultra Samples #2

Of course any help would be greatly appreciated and reciprocated. Again, for an updated version of this list, please see the “1996 Beckett Tribute Checklist” posted under my Offical Griffey Wantlist at the top of the blog.

Thanks for reading.



  1. With a little luck, I can get some time at the LCS this or next weekend and see what oddball Griffs are in the boxes/binders/cases. I know they have a fair amount of cards sorted by superstar, so having this want list gives me a better direction than picking up copy #58 of some card you really don't need.

    If I find even one off the list, that's one less for you to hunt down.

  2. Not sure what's more impressive... the fact that the 1993 Finest Refractor still carry that much clout in our hobby after two decades or the sheer number of Griffeys you've crossed off of your list. Best of luck on your hunt for new Griffeys.

  3. If I could, I would go back in time to 1989 and buy up some of those Mother's Cookies bags full of waxy pink circus animals and rock hard mini chocolate chip cookies. Those cookies were pretty horrible, but I loved the cards that were found inside. Unforunately, I believe I sold all my Mother's Cookies Griffeys on eBay sometime around the late '90s.

  4. That is a major checklist with some very unique cards. Good luck, you are going to have some cool stories when you complete the list.

  5. Good luck on your journey!

  6. Your quest gets my vote for most ambitious quest of 2015-2016. Good luck!

  7. That is fantastic - it all comes full circle. I wonder if there are master checklists in Beckett back issues of other players? I imagine Griffey is the only guy that warranted a checklist like this from a major publication.

  8. This is truly awesome. I wish you luck!

  9. Thanks everybody! If you do manage to come across any of these cards at a shop/show, shoot me an e-mail. I need all the help I can get!

  10. Man, close to half of these are older than I am. Yeesh. Good luck on your undertaking.

  11. I'll see what I have and send what I can to help you.

  12. I know I have at least the 1994 Post Canadian and the 1994 Sp Western Promo

  13. Hitting a show on the 4th! The promoter is a HUGE dealer. I will give him your list and if it is okay your email. LMK if thats cool.

  14. *looks at list* - "promo, promo, jumbo, brand i've never heard of, jumbo, promo - DAMN YOU ODDBALL CARDS!!" :)

  15. Good luck, I love the all or nothing approach. What was the parallel you didn't know you had?

  16. I know the guy who made all the alrak stuff.. he came over the other day with a bunch of old alrak cards and merchandise. Interesting fact that he told me was that alrak is his wife's name backwards. .

  17. I have the 1995 Score Rules Jumbos SR1 Ken Griffey Jr. if you are interested.