Ask Babe: Valuing Frank Thomas, Ken Griffey Jr. cards

Feb 16 2012 - 10:58pm

Dear Babe:

I have an Upper Deck Frank Thomas Future Heroes card (No. 62).

-- Karon Bussinger, Grand Island, Neb.

Your card is part of a 10-card insert set from 1993. That set is, in turn, part of 100 insert cards that were consecutively numbered over eight years.

The first cards went into 1990 high-numbered packs.

That first set featured Reggie Jackson. It also introduced autographed inserts into the mainstream hobby as Jackson signed some of the cards.

Upper Deck continued issuing Heroes insert sets through 1997. The final two years, the cards were inserted in Upper Deck SP (short print) packs.

Over the years, in addition to Jackson and the Future Heroes, the insert sets in UD packs included Hank Aaron, Nolan Ryan, Johnny Bench and Joe Morgan (in the same set), plus Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle and Babe Ruth. In 1996, a multiplayer set was inserted into SP packs. The final issue in 1997 SP featured Ken Griffey Jr.

Beckett's Almanac of Baseball Cards notes that just 2,000 of each Griffey card were produced. However, it appears the 1996 multiplayer cards are the hardest to find -- especially in mint condition.

Your 1993 Frank Thomas card is worth $1.

Before the steroid scandal soured fans and collectors on a number of players, that 1993 set was something to behold. In addition to Thomas, it featured Griffey Jr., Barry Bonds, Roberto Alomar, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire and Juan Gonzalez.

Dear Babe:

I have a 10th-anniversary oversized (5 inches by 7 inches) autographed Ken Griffey Jr. card. It was from Upper Deck. It was hidden underneath the regular card packs in the box. I was told by an Upper Deck employee that they only made 12 of them. The card number is "KG 1989." It is in pristine condition. What would be the value now and do you think it would increase by much when he is in the Hall of Fame?

-- Robert Steilen, Carlsbad, Calif.

What we have here is a lack of communication, but it doesn't change the fact you have a winner on your hands. Upper Deck celebrated its 10th anniversary in 1989 -- even though that was really the company's 11th year of production. Griffey Jr.'s rookie card was No. 1 in that first Upper Deck issue. In 1999, UD produced 5-by-7 versions of his first 10 cards -- not 12. These were buried underneath packs in retail boxes. One of every 64th retail box contained an oversized card signed by Griffey Jr. Beckett's Almanac of Baseball Cards lists unsigned cards at $5 each and nine of the 10 signed cards at $50 to $100 each.

Signed versions of the '89 card, which sounds like the one you have, book at $150-$250.

It's doubtful the value will go up when he reaches Cooperstown. Barring some unforeseen event, Griffey Jr. is a lock for the Hall of Fame and has been for years. There is no shortage of his autograph in any form.

There will probably be a small spike when he's elected as non-collectors jump on the bandwagon. That will be short-lived and only a few of the folks with Griffey Jr. autographs will be able to take advantage of the novices.

(Babe Waxpak is written by Bill Wagner. If you have a question for Babe Waxpak, include your full name and hometown, the card number, year and manufacturer or send a photocopy. Please do not send cards. The address is: Babe Waxpak, Box 492397, Redding, CA 96049-2397 or email babewaxpak@charter.net.)

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