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.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017


I’m pretty sure I already did one of these in 2016, but here is another because CONTEST!

My card cave is more of an everything cave. I collect a lot of different things, so in addition to being a closet/storage room, this is my media room, computer center, office, poster repository, memorabilia emporium, and, of course, card cave. Most importantly it is my nerd sanctuary.

This is my desk, where the magic happens. I'm in the middle of making the switch from PC to Mac, so I'm doing a lot of data consolidation and transfer. It's taking a long time (and eating into my card collecting time and budget), so I'm making this post while waiting for transfers to finish.

Above the desk is cardboard storage. The orange-labeled longboxes are trade fodder separated by team.

Below that is my storage media shelf with a few display cards to boot. The Bonds rookie is there because I have no idea where to put it.

Beside that is everything else I need for blogging, trading, and collecting in general. Highlights are a postal scale, my original 1996 Beckett Griffey Tribute magazine for checking off new additions, and an envelope containing every note everyone has ever included with a trade package. I'm kind of an orderly hoarder.

I’m in here a lot because as you can see this is where the computer is. The reason I stick with laptops now is obvious if you’ve ever had to evacuate you home with a desktop computer. That computer is a media server streaming 1.5 terabytes of content to the rest of the house. 600GB of that is BBC, PBS, and National Geographic nature documentaries. 147GB is just Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Soon the Mac will be where the PC is, and the PC will be only a download machine and media server. I may use it from time to time for burning CD's and such, but the end goal is to be mostly Mac by Mardi Gras (which is at the end of February!).

Here is my scanner, which is relatively new as my old one had simply had enough of my wife fiddling with it. This one is totally wireless, but nearly every scan comes out crooked, so it's a trade-off.

To the left of the desk is this little old-school (a term I’ve never gotten to use literally until now) desk that never doesn’t have cardboard on it. Here you can see I have some new PC adds, a new silly names (mostly Dicks), a stack of Richie Allen cards, and some boxes I use in my sorting. This small desk is my main sorting area, and the cubby beneath is ideal for storing small card boxes. Harold Reynolds’ head supervises from his suction cup.

The card cabinet is the heart and soul of the card cave. It contains the better part of my Griffey card collection minus anything worth more than a few bucks. The real stuff (a solid quarter of my collection) resides in a big safe deposit box at the bank in longboxes sealed in large air and watertight bags with desiccant packs. The Griffeys are arranged by year and brand in binders. Below that are my Griffey duplicates, off-size Griffeys, and non-Griffey keepers. No one card in this cabinet is worth more than ten bucks at most. Because I run a public blog about my Griffey collection, I’m very careful about what cards I keep at home.

Next door to that is my next biggest collection: posters and prints. I have roughly 500 posters, some framed, most not. Those unframed prints live in these large boxes or giant portfolios. Poster collecting is not a great hobby to have if you don’t have a lot of space or if you like money. One of my favorite artists, Daniel Danger, made that blue paper lamp. I don’t have proof, but I think I have the largest Daniel Danger collection in Louisiana.

When I converted this room from a guest bedroom to my nerd sanctuary I removed the closet doors completely and added a storage shelf. There’s very little fun stuff in here – it is mostly storage with a few surprises hidden here and there. Above the closet are a few signed setlists from They Might Be Giants, The Rentals, Galactic, and an autographed gig poster for one of my musical heroes, Brian Wilson (who I'm seeing in March!).

Left of that is one of my favorite walls in the house. It’s got my Jeff Soto Dune Poster, my Snoop Dogg on hemp paper, and a bunch of different autographs from various Saints as well as jazz legend Herbie Hancock. I drew over a few items here because there are some things YOU CANNOT SEE.

The bookshelves are where I keep all my go-to collection stuff and display items.

The middle shelf is the not-very-valuable part of my coin collection which I hope to get my son to help me curate when he gets old enough to not eat the pennies. Below that is where I keep my "collector" vinyl, that being the stuff that doesn't get played because it's worth actual money.

This shelf may interest my specific audience more. Its where I keep large quantities of cards I don't intend on keeping, all broken down by set. If shipping was cheaper, none of these cards would be here. You'd probably have some of them right now.

This middle bookshelf is 80% baseball cards. We have the Griffey collectibles shelf up top followed by my media shelf (hooked up to the TV up top) complete with a VCR hooked up to a DVDR for VHS-dubbing. Under that are my Griffey magazines and a bunch of complete sets in binders, then a lot of miscellaneous baseball card stuff, and at the bottom a whole bunch of complete sets and my '89 Donruss boxes.

These shelves used to be completely full of DVDs, but I recently completed a project where I sorted most of the discs into disc binders and put all the DVD cases into a giant storage bin in the attic. I have not yet decided what to do with the newfound shelf space, but the whole space is less cluttered already.

On top of this bookshelf is my MST3K prop collection, the original Sports Illustrated football phone, and my Christmas Story leg lamp. One entire shelf of that CD collection on the left is Radiohead. Another is They Might Be Giants. I am a big nerd.

So, this was my card cave at its best. I write that in the past tense because if we ever have another kid (and we plan to someday), this will become my son's room, and I'll have to find a place for all this crap. God help me.

The Best Griffey Acquisitions of 2016 Part 1: #21-30

I went into 2016 expecting two things to happen: First, I thought that, despite becoming a new Dad, I would still have plenty of time to blog. I mean, the boy’s gotta sleep sometime, right?

I was wrong. I mean, he slept - a lot - but that’s when I slept, too. Hence, I was usually snoozing in what I thought would be my blogging time, and my post count suffered. As some of you may know I’ve all but dropped off the face of the Earth in that respect.

The other expectation was that it would be a very lean year when it comes to new Griffeys. I thought I’d be whittling the Top Acquisitions list back down to ten and that maybe a new autograph or two would top the list, and that would be it.

Again, I was wrong. The collection actually made some pretty respectable gains this year with the help of a couple of Griffey collecting social media groups, Griffey’s return to the spotlight via his Hall of Fame induction (and plenty of attention from Topps as a result), and a sharper focus on completing the 1996 Beckett Tribute checklist. Oh, and I went a little autograph-crazy as you will see.

So, while this year can in no way compete with the monster year the collection had in 2015, it was still pretty remarkable despite the low blogging activity. That sums up 2016 for me: still Griffeying, just not writing about it.

A reminder: last year I began grouping like cards together rather than rank each one individually, and I did it again this year where it made sense. One of my focuses was the parallel-heavy 1996 Beckett Tribute checklist not to mention all the great Griffey-centric inserts that Topps gave us. As a result, this Top 30 list has way more than 30 cards on it. That escalated quickly.

Here goes:

30. 2016 Topps Finest Careers Die-Cut Set #1-10

As a Griffey fan I am all about Topps’ Griffey-centric inserts for 2016. At one card per case, the 10-card Finest Careers insert was not an easy pull. I even bought a box of Finest (so unlike me) when they came out in the hopes of pulling one (which I didn’t), but over the months I was able to piece the checklist together as the prices cooled off and people started listing them for reasonable amounts. I really love the fun modern font and die-cut design – it’s a Finest insert through-and-through. Well done.

29. ‘90’s Stadium Club First Day Issues

You are going to see a lot of ‘90’s parallels on this list since I’ve been hard at work trying to complete the 1996 Beckett Tribute checklist. I’ll admit it: this is a boring parallel by most standards. It’s also pretty scarce which is how it ended up here. It’s nice to see First Day Issue and Stadium Club in general are both back and great as ever, but I do miss these holofoil stamps.

28. Late ‘90’s Ultra Inserts & Gold Medallions

Ultra from this era is quite a hurdle. They got pretty hardcore in the late 90’s with a ton of tough-pull inserts and the significant beefing-up of their Gold Medallion parallel. Combine both of these (which is precisely what Ultra did) and you have tough inserts made tougher by a super-tough insert parallel. So for player collectors in the ‘90’s, things were, well, tough, and they remain so for ‘90’s PCers such as myself. Despite many months of active searching, there are still several I need to finish the Beckett Tribute checklist.

27. Collector’s Choice Gold Signatures

Look at all these gold signatures! My cousin and I busted a ton of packs of this product in our day, and in all that time I pulled only one gold signature (Gregg Jefferies). To us, Gold Signatures were a legendary parallel, and I never thought I would have this many. I like to think that were he still around, even so many years separated from the hobby, he would appreciate this little stack of one of our all-time favorite parallels.

Sorry to get a little sad on you there – to make up for it, here is some ink:

26. 2004 Upper Deck Diamond Prosigs Collection Autograph #204

This is the lowest-ranked an autograph has ever been in the 4-year history of this list (not counting one that didn’t even make this list). Nothing against this card – it’s a beauty – but at heart it’s a simple sticker auto on a base card. Just look at the card number. I’m used to autographs having numbers made up of letters, usually with an “A” added. #KGA and #AU1 and such. This is card #204. How do you have an autographed card #204? Anyway, Griffey signed it, so there’s that…

25. 1998 Circa Thunder Rave Reviews #7

If you want insane ‘90’s-style die-cutting and foil work, look no further than this…thing. It was the 1:288 monster of Circa Thunder, and it really looked the part. I know it’s so 2003 to quote Family Guy, but design-wise it reminds me of Peter Griffin’s negative review of The Godfather: “It insists upon itself.” Still, like The Godfather, everyone seems to love this insert, including me.

24. 2006 Flair Showcase Hot Gloves #HG-19 /150

Upper Deck’s version of Fleer’s Hot Gloves insert is unsung but hella-rare and one of the best in the series. There don’t seem to be stated odds anywhere (how do you not state odds in 2006 – you crazy, Upper Deck), but there are known to be only 150 copies of each player. So if you’re a Hot Gloves completionist, which I am, it’s a must-have and among the toughest gets to finish off the timeline.

23. 1995 Pinnacle White Hot

Here is a rare parallel of an insert from way back in 1995. Red Hot was seeded at 1:8 packs with a 25-card checklist (pretty big, obviously). The stated odds of pulling a White Hot version were never stated, but they are most definitely a lot rarer. As the owner of several of the Red Hot cards, including the Griffey, seeing one of these for the first time took me completely by surprise. Like dating a brunette for years then one day she dyes her hair blonde, and in the time it takes for you to get used to it you kind of feel like you’re cheating on her….but it’s still her so it’s OK but also naughty and titillating.

I finally worked “titillating” into a paragraph about baseball cards! This blog has officially gone too far.

22. 2004 Upper Deck Etchings Etched in Time Autograph #ET-KG #/1625

If you are just getting into the Griffey game and you want a cool autograph for not a lot of coin, look no further. There are a whopping 1625 of these floating around, so there is no premium for rarity here. What I’d really like to do is get a box of this stuff as it’s the product into which Upper Deck inserted those amazing A Piece of History 500 Home Run Club cards, the numbered-out-of-25 autographed version of which regularly sells in the several thousands. Pulling one from a box may be the cheapest option for us regular shmoes.

21. Pinnacle/Select Artist’s Proofs

OH MY GOD THESE ARE HARD TO FIND. Seriously. It wouldn’t even be that bad except that Griffey had SO MANY CARDS in both Select and Pinnacle base sets – we’re talking checklists and subsets and EVEN MORE checklists. And some of these checklists feature multiple Hall-of-Famers on one card so you also have to compete with PCers of those guys to get them. Brutal.

There are 475 of each Select Artist’s Proof base card which isn’t very many for this early in the rare parallel game. As for the Pinnacle AP’s, well, I have no idea how many of each there are, but I suspect its even less than those in Select. Anyway, you are looking at SO MUCH MONEY AND TIME in this little group of cards.

Look out for cards 20-11 tomorrow, and thanks for reading!