Ken Griffey Sr. Baseball Cards

Ken Griffey Sr. (born 1950) played 19 seasons in MLB from 1973 to 1991. He is best known as a member of the 1970s Cincinnati Reds dynasty, as well as being the father of Ken Griffey Jr. Griffey Sr. also played for the New York Yankees, Atlanta Braves, and Seattle Mariners in the second half of his career.

Griffey Sr. ended his career with a .296 batting average, 2,143 hits, 152 home runs, and 859 runs batted in. He was a three time All-Star and two time World Series champion. He had a much better career than the average baseball player, but he is largely overshadowed (and justifiably so) by his son.

Griffey Sr. had five siblings, and they were raised by a single mother because his father left the family when Griffey Sr. was two years old. Griffey Sr. was a football star as a youngster, and he was a top prospect as wide receiver. Griffey Sr. himself put his best sport as football, then basketball, track, and only then baseball.

Life can be surprising, and Griffey Sr. suddenly needed a salary upon graduating because his girlfriend was pregnant. He was a long shot draft pick by the Reds, and Griffey signed with them because he needed a job right away. Griffey Sr. would end up being a much better father than his own, and that child would grow up to be Ken Griffey Jr., one of the best baseball players of his generation.

After four years in the minors, Griffey Sr. began to break into the majors in 1973, and by 1975, Griffey was a consistent member of the Reds dynasty.

1976 was a great year for Griffey Sr., and he was in line to win the batting title. Griffey Sr. sat out the last game of the season to protect his lead, and Bill Madlock had four hits in one game to narrowly win the batting title. Still, Griffey Sr. would finish the season with a .336 batting average, which was one of five times in his career when he batted over 300.

1981 marked the end of The Big Red Machine, the name of the 1970s Reds dynasty. Most of the remaining dynasty players were traded for prospects, and Griffey Sr. ended up with the New York Yankees. After a few decent seasons, though they were injury infested, Griffey Sr. was sent to the Braves and then the Reds in quick succession.

Griffey Sr. joined the Seattle Mariners in 1990 to become teammates with his son Griffey Jr. where they formed the first father-son teammate duo in MLB history.

On September 14, 1990, Griffey Sr. and Griffey Jr. hit back to back home runs in a game against the Angels.

The whole family was talented. The grandfather was a teammate of Stan Musial in high school, and Griffey Sr.’s other song Craig made it to Triple-A, but he could never get further. Lastly, Griffey Sr.’s grandson, Trey Griffey, went undrafted in the 2017 NFL Draft, but he has made rosters on the Indianapolis Colts, the Miami Dolphins, and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Griffey Sr. soon retired in 1991. Later in life, Griffey Sr. spent some time as minor league hitting coach and manager. He was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame, and he published a book in 2014 titled: Big Red: Baseball, Fatherhood, and My Life in the Big Red Machine.

Though he is not nearly as talented as his son, Griffey Sr. was a solid baseball player. His cards are not overtly valuable, and they do not compare to his son’s popularity.

However, Griffey Sr. is worth looking into because of his relationship with the Big Red Machine as well as Griffey Jr. Most of his cards are not worth much, especially later in his career due to the era of collecting, but this article will take you through a few diamonds in the rough.

1974 Topps Ken Griffey Sr. Rookie Card

The 1974 Topps had 660 cards of standard size, and the set was released all at once instead of in series. A special feature of the set is that there are several Hank Aaron cards.

Ken Griffey Sr. is on car #598 titled “‘74 Rookie Outfielders.” He shares the card with Dave Augustine, Steve Ontiveros, and Jim Tyrone. Griffey is the key to that card’s value.

For reference, PSA has 861 cards registered, so it is not a rare card.

PSA Gem Mint 10 cards will sell for over $1,500, but if a collector drops to a Mint card, they can acquire a copy for less than $100.

1975 Topps Ken Griffey Sr.

There are 660 cards in this set of standard size. There is a mirror pack “Mini” cards, which had the same 660 cards, but they measured 2 ¼” x 3 ⅛”.

Griffey’s card is featured at #284, and it has been decently well kept over the decades. PSA alone has over 500 cards registered.

Part of the draw of the value behind this card is that it is the first full sized card that only features Griffey Sr. Prices have remained competitive as a result.

Gem Mints are sold too infrequently to have a good picture, and copies sold for $464 and $575 in 2017 and 2018, respectively. However, the Mint copies have been more expensive for the sophomore card than the rookie card. Mint copies sold for around or above $100 in 2020.

1989 Bowman Tiffany Ken Griffey Sr.

This card is not worth very much, but you can have a Griffey Jr. and a Griffey Sr. from the same set. Also, this set has the most expensive Griffey Jr. card.

There are 484 cards in the set, and they measure 2 ½” x 3 ¾”. There were only 6,000 sets created, which is different for this era of overproduction.

Ken Griffey Sr.’s card sits at #259. There are over 600 copies of his card registered by PSA. Gem Mint copies will sell for about $100, and you could grab a Mint copy for $20.

1991 Topps Desert Shield

This is one of the last Griffey Sr. cards to be worth much. The set has 792 cards of 2 ½” x 3 ½”. Griffey Jr. is also featured on the set.

It was released to troops in the Middle East, which created an interesting distribution. There were fewer than 7,000 sets released, full sets were not released, cards were spread across the globe, and conditions are tough seeing as how they were mostly given to soldiers in a foreign country. It remains a popularly collected and traded set today.

Ken Griffey Sr. was placed at #465. There are 82 cards registered with PSA. His card can be picked up in Mint condition for under $100. Due to the popularity of the set, if a Gem Mint copy went up for sale, it would most likely cost over $1,000.


Griffey Sr. will always be remembered for his relationship to Griffey Jr. even though the father was a more than respectable ball player. To be remembered due to your son’s greatness — is that such a bad thing?

All in all, Griffey Sr. is on a few nice Topps sets, and the Griffey Jr. collector might track down a couple sets where the father and son are right next to each other.