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Ken Griffey Jr.’s rookie card — the star of Upper Deck’s 1989 inaugural set — has been a sizzler for decades. Gem-Mint examples easily soar into five-figure prices.

In 2021, for example, we saw three PSA 10 Griffey rookies sell for $15,500, $20,300 and $30,400. Earlier this year, PWCC Auctions sold a PSA 10 specimen of the card for $23,100 and two autographed examples (both with PSA/DNA authentication) for $55,201 and $55,099.

1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card.

1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card.

Also See: Vlad Guerrero Jr. signs exclusive deal with Topps 

But that iconic issue isn’t the only Junior card collectors chase. Recent eBay auctions saw various Griffey rarities trade for five-figure sums. Check out these prices:

• $28,850 on 4 bids for an ungraded 1997-98 Donruss Crusade Red card marked #20/25.

• $23,750 on 31 bids for a 1999 Skybox Premium Rubies card graded PSA 8 and marked #24/50.

1999 Skybox Premium Ken Griffey Jr. Star Rubies card.

1999 Skybox Premium Ken Griffey Jr. Star Rubies card.

• $20,101 on 17 bids for a PSA 9-graded 1998 Donruss Elite Prime Numbers die-cut card marked #3/294.

• $15,200 on 69 bids for a 1989 Bowman Tiffany graded PSA 10.

• $12,000 on 63 bids for a 1997 Fleer Flair Legacy Collection card graded PSA 9 and marked #15/100.

And check out this treasure: A 1994 Upper Deck dual-autographed card signed by Griffey and Yankees legend Mickey Mantle sold for $11,800. The card was ungraded but in impressive condition, judging by the listing’s photograph.

Upper Deck Mickey Mantle-Ken Griffey Jr. autographed card.

Upper Deck Mickey Mantle-Ken Griffey Jr. autographed card.

Also See: Pete Rose a Hall of Famer among collectors 

ALL RISE FOR JUDGE?

After Aaron Judge wowed the baseball world and collectibles market in 2017, it seemed like the sky was the limit for the 6-foot-7, 282-pound marvel. He hit .284 that year with 52 homers, 128 runs and 114 RBI. Two injury-plagued seasons and a Covid-shortened year dashed his memorabilia values. But last year, Judge started turning things around, belting 39 homers and hitting .287.

And this season? Well, he’s playing like a man in a contract season (which he is) and seems to be back in 2017 form. Yet the Judge card market hasn’t returned to 2017 levels. As such, you’ll find deals out there.

Yes, there are rarities fetching thousands of dollars. For example, Judge’s 2013 Bowman Chrome cards are stirring up auction activity. In early May, a signed Gem-Mint Blue Wave Refractor variation of his 2013 Chrome card (marked #17/50 and graded BGS 9.5) sold for $2,800 on 40 bids. Two weeks earlier, a seller got $2,750 on 42 bids for Judge’s 2017 Topps Heritage card signed in red ink and marked #18/68. That card was designed after Topps’ 1968 set.

2017 Topps Heritage Aaron Judge auto card.

2017 Topps Heritage Aaron Judge auto card.

But there are far more deals than multi-thousand-dollar Judge sales happening. Look at these recent prices paid for autographed cards with relatively low print runs:

• $294 on 34 bids for a 2017 Topps Heritage Clubhouse Collection autographed patch card. It was graded PSA 9.

• $291 on 37 bids for a 2017 Bowman’s Best Raking Rookies card graded PSA 10. It was one of only 99 produced.

• $276 on 20 bids for a 2020 Topps Heritage Gold-Border Refactor card marked #4/5. This one was designed after Topps’s 1971 Topps set but with gold instead of black borders.

• $272 on 26 bids for a 2017 Bowman Chrome Green Refractor graded PSA 10 and marked #3/99.

Also See: Why Brooks Robinson is such a nice guy 

TROUT IS BACK!

Mike Trout is back! The star centerfielder is back to the unparalleled play he exhibited from 2012 through 2019, before a series of injuries got in the way. As such, the L.A. Angels star is front and center in the hobby.

Our Top 10 chart shows a signed 2009 Topps Chrome Refractor that exceeded $50,000, and two other Trout rookies recently topped five figures. 

A 2009 Bowman Chrome Refractor, #106/500, auto (BGS 9.5, auto 10) sold for $25,200 on 50 bids, while a 2009 Bowman Chrome Blue Refractor, #131/150, auto (BGS 9, auto 10) went for $31,200 on 76 bids. 

2009 Bowman Chrome Prospects Mike Trout Blue Refactor.

2009 Bowman Chrome Prospects Mike Trout Blue Refactor.

We also tracked a 2009 Bowman Chrome signed Xfractor that brought $25,350 on 112 bids. It was marked #143/225 and graded BGS 9. 

TOP 10 CHART 

1. $213,040 on 209 bids: 1986-87 Fleer Michael Jordan (PSA 10)

2. $80,100 on 100 bids: 2020 Topps Dynasty Formula 1 Charles LeClerc, #1/1, auto, dual patch (ungraded)

3. $75,100 on 67 bids: 2007-08 Upper Deck Exquisite Kevin Durant, #55/99, auto patch (PSA 8, PSA/DNA 10)

4. $60,100 on 66 bids: 1986-87 Fleer Michael Jordan (BGS 9.5)

5. $58,326 on 122 bids: 2003-04 Topps Chrome LeBron James Refractor (PSA 10)

6. $50,600 on 24 bids: 2009 Bowman Chrome Mike Trout Refractor, 1 of 500 (marked number not available), auto (BGS 9.5, auto 10)

7. $46,877 on 91 bids: 2020 Panini National Treasures Football sealed hobby case

8. $45,700 on 63 bids: 2020 Topps Chrome Formula 1 Lewis Hamilton Red, 1 of 4 (marked number not available), (PSA 9)

9. $45,600 on 44 bids: 1986-87 Fleer Michael Jordan (BGS 9.5)

10. $43,200 on 38 bids: 1986-87 Fleer Michael Jordan (BGS 9.5)