This is one of those instances where we have to stand in awe of the historical significance of something. The 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card is one of the, if not the most iconic rookie card to be produced in the post-war era. The card represents the hobby boom of the late 1980s, and the incredible hype surrounding the potential of the man who became known for his textbook left-handed swing.
If you bought 1989 Upper Deck when it came out, you remember how fervently collectors chased the Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card. The card topped the want lists of many young collectors. To this day, it remains the key reason why collectors still buy and open packs of 1989 Upper Deck.
The iconic image on the front of the card is permanently cemented into the memories of countless collectors. It’s one we’ve all come to love so when the original Polaroid used on the 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. card was auctioned with Memory Lane Inc. in 2018, it was no surprise it closed with 38 bids at $13,887.60.((Auction Result. memorylaneinc.com))
The original Polaroid features Ken Griffey Jr. wearing a San Bernardino Spirit cap, which was the team he was with just prior to call-up. Since Upper Deck needed to feature Ken Griffey Jr. wearing a Seattle Mariners cap, a small adjustment was made to create the image we’ve all come to remember. They did a pretty good job of it too because the final product is very believable.
The original Polaroid was once owned by Upper Deck Employee, Tom Geideman (the man credited for making Griffey #1 in the set). It then went to Upper Deck Supervisor, Jay McCracken whom consigned it with Memory Lane Inc.((The History and Legacy of the 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. Rookie Card. www.beckett.com/news))