The 1989 Score Rookie/Traded Ken Griffey Jr. RC is a classic and certainly one of the keys from the final days of the 1980s. The set boasts a variety of important rookie cards but this one is the centerpiece. For many of us that collected in 1989, this card was well out of reach. It was one of the more expensive Ken Griffey Jr. RCs and was only available in sets of 1989 Score Rookie/Traded. It was seldom found as a standalone and when it was, it’s early prices were in the upper double digits.
Depicted here are two versions of the 1989 Score Rookie/Traded Ken Griffey Jr. RC. There are a number of subtle differences on both the fronts and the backs with the backs showcasing one alarming difference that makes variation identification immediate. Let’s have a look at the backs.
If you look closely at the two backs, you’ll find a variety of unique differences. The following are some of the more distinguishable differences between the two.
The example on the left:
This is the Set-Issued example
The MLB and MLBPA logos are PNG files placed on a teal background
The player’s name is in bold font
The picture is clearer
The example on the right:
This is the known variation
The MLB and MLBPA logos are JPG files placed on a seafoam green background
The MLBPA logo features additional text
The player’s name is in regular font
The picture is grainier
The paper type is noticeably different
These may be too subtle for many collectors to spot out of the gate and without each of the two side-by-side for comparison so the following distinguishable characteristic will help you immediately identify which one you have.
Above is a closeup of the lines from the back of each of the two cards.
The top line is from the set-issued example and says, “Bats.”
The bottom line is from the variation and says, “Bat.”
Confirmed origin of the variation is unknown but some circles believe it to be a counterfeit. That’s not entirely unfeasible given the grainy print, varying font styles and sizes, and atrocious miscuts. The next time you come across a 1989 Score Rookie/Traded Ken Griffey Jr. RC, flip it over and check this line of text. For the “Bat” version, since no confirmation exists regarding authenticity, buyer beware.