Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Top 30 Griffey Acquisitions of 2019 Part 2: 11-20

I’ve gotta say the list turned out better than I was expecting. I mean it started okay-ish. But I’ll admit there was a time mid-year when I was considering shortening the final tally down to 24 cards. Or ten. That hasn’t happened since my first year on the card blogs.

But we did it, baby! We landed enough Griffey finery to make a full 30-card list again. It’s a marathon, after all, not a sprint. I’m excited I was able to finish strong enough to maybe melt a face or two.

But seriously I set the bar way too high in my childless years. Must have been all that expendable income.

OK, here’s some more:

20. 1998 Fleer Tradition Zone #7Z

Of the three super-tough Griffeys from this set, Zone is the best-looking. Also it’s one of those pesky 1:288 ‘90’s inserts. Why 288? It was always 288. You never see that anymore. I think it had to do with the number of cards printed by sheet. Anyway, bonus points for the subtle purpliness.

19. 1997 Donruss Elite Leather & Lumber #1 #/500

Another impressive ‘90’s insert, these puppies were printed on wood for the card front and genuine leather on the back. They must have cost a fortune to make, and I suspect they would be numbered to something closer to /100 or /50 were they printed today. Also it would probably be protested by PETA for its leather content. The first non-vegan baseball card?

18. 1999 Upper Deck Game Jersey Relic #KG-H

There are two versions of this card, one numbered #KG-H which was a hobby-only 1:288 pack “case” hit, and another numbered #KG-HR that was 1:2500 packs meted out in both hobby and retail product. The two look extremely similar to one another, but the HR is obviously the rarer of the two. I am, however, quite content with my little H boi.

17. 1999 Upper Deck Ovation A Piece of History Game Used Bat Relic #KGJ

This was the first year of the mighty Upper Deck A Piece of History 500 HR Club super-insert, and this offering from ‘99 Ovation shares a lot of qualities with that legendary set including the title, general design, and even relic shape. Seeded at 1:287 $4.00 packs, there are 14 cards in the checklist putting a specific player pull somewhere in the not-unreasonable 1:4000 arena. However, I have been informed that the Griffey in this set was short-printed and actually closer to 1:16000. I can’t confirm that but I can check that box (woot woot).

Oh, and it's my first multi-piece single relic - see the split? I'm still not sure whether that's a defect or a feature. Or maybe it's a 1/1? It's all in the marketing.

16. 2019 Leaf The National 1992 Leaf Design Refractor #TN-33 Regular, Blue #/20, Purple #/10

The more I look back on 2019, the more I realize that the cards were seriously on-point this year. I mean we just had that year with the Griffey induction where it seemed everyone was all Kid-crazy and the guy had beaucoup inserts and stuff, but dammit if I don’t prefer all the amazing overproduction-era designs coming back in lovely refracting chrome and tiered-scarcity colorways. Man, it is straight-up EMBARASSING how much I like these cards. Oh, and there’s a purple one. What? A Griffey overproduction-era chrome refractor reprint….and it’s purple. Seriously how dare you make a card that is such an on-the-nose shoe-in for this list? HOW DARETH YOU?

15. 1998 Pinnacle Epix #E1 Play Emerald &1998 Pinnacle Epix #E1 All-Star Epix Moment Emerald

Emerald Epix are a booty pain like few others. The All-Star Epix insert less so, but that Play Emerald is probably going to be the only legit Epix Emerald I own until either I win the lottery and become one of the Griffey-grubbing elite that swims in a money bin filled with all the latest 1/1 auto patches and cleat relics, or a planet-wide cataclysm occurs leaving me in a “Last Man on Earth” situation where I travel across the country in an RV collecting all the rarest Griffeys only to eventually die alone in a palace surrounded by the most amazing Griffey collection the Universe has ever seen. Then centuries later aliens land on Earth and find my rotting corpse seated in a throne surrounded by dusty PSA and BGS slabs, and even though they have no context of who Griffey was or what baseball was, they still acknowledge that my collection is, like, seriously tight; so they sample my DNA and clone me, but I can only stay alive for one day like Haley Joel Osment’s mom in “A.I.” but I spend the whole day explaining Griffey to them and the significance of all the cards, and so impressed are they that they found a new space-religion based on him inevitably leading to a series of intergalactic crusades that kills millions. Needless to say, I’m just not 100% sold Epix Emeralds are worth the trouble.

14. 2000 Stadium Club Capture the Action #CA12 Game View #/100 & 2001 Stadium Club Capture the Action #CA9 Game View #/100

The 2000 card was 1:508, and the 2001 was even tougher at 1:577. Either of the Game View Griffeys is a beyond-case-hit level kick in the balls for a collector, but I picked up both of them this year in a single please-don’t-tell-my-wife-I-did-this deal. There are better inserts with square bits of film cel embedded in them, but I couldn’t continue to call myself a Stadium Club nut without at least one of them, so here’s BOTH of them. And check out the 2000 card – still a Mariner! You take your time, Stadium Club. It’s a big change, I know.

13. 2019 Topps 150 Years of Baseball Artist Renditions Autograph #105A Blue #/99

There are only two Griffey autos in the list this year, and this is one of them. It probably seems a little low on the list (I’m a little surprised at where it ended up, too). The fact that Topps direct-marketed them online so they were never packed-out probably has something to do with that. Still, the design is great and the autograph is on-card which is hard to find these days. There were also some color variations available for significantly more money, but I am a simple man and quite fond of Mariner blue anyway.

12. 2009 Upper Deck 20th Anniversary Sports Memorabilia Jersey Relic #MLB-KG 1/1 Richard McWilliam Autograph (inscribed “Owner” & “1/1”)

All relics were case hits and distributed via all Upper Deck baseball products that year (11 different brands in all), but far fewer of those were signed and inscribed by McWilliam who passed away in early 2013. I suppose I could probably go through each product one-by-one and figure out how many packs per box and boxes per case then math out some kind of bizarre insertion ratio for these, but please don’t make me do that.

The wackiness (or wackness, depending on how you look at it) here is that there are more than one of these inscribed 1-of-1’s. If McWilliam had inscribed each card differently with something like “President,” “CEO,” or even “Big Cheese,” then yes, that would be a legit 1/1. Unfortunately he did not do that. There are several “Owner”-inscribed 1/1’s of this card to be had. I’m just excited to have an autograph of the guy who changed baseball cards – excited enough that I ranked this card higher than an actual Griffey autograph. Hm. Now that I think about it this makes no sense.

11. 2019 Cuyler Smith Art Card #/80 (Simpsons theme on 1992 Donruss design)

If you are unaware of Cuyler Smith and his fabulous array of hand-drawn pop culture sports cards, I’m going to go ahead and apologize now for introducing you because his collectors are insane and you may very well become one of them. It happened to me. I have a few dozen including Henry Rowengartner (from Rookie of the Year), Michael Jordan (Time Squad/Space Jam), and Bill Murray (Kingpin and Caddyshack). I used to have a George Costanza (Assistant to the Travelling Secretary on a 1987 Topps design), but I sold it for….well, I’m not saying how much, but it paid my car note for three months.

So yes, I am a fan. And when he announced a Griffey from that Simpsons episode done in the style of 1992 Donruss, I was like ALL OVER THAT THING. Sorry, major brands, but this is the greatest Griffey of 2019. It’s really not even close.

Kudos to Gavin, tho – he did it first!

OK, Top Ten, comin’ at ya… Thanks for reading.


  1. "I spend the whole day explaining Griffey to them and the significance of all the cards, and so impressed are they that they found a new space-religion based on him inevitably leading to a series of intergalactic crusades that kills millions."

    I'd read this sci-fi novel.

    (Also I'd never heard of those Cuyler Smith cards before. Looked em up on Ebay and saw the price for one of the '87 Costanzas you mentioned...holy hell.)

  2. Awesome stuff. Can't wait to see the Top 10. That Richard McWilliam autograph is unique and very cool! Been trying to land one of his signatures for years.