Card of the Day: Ken Griffey Jr. 1989 Mother’s Cookies #3

What Does An Authentic 1988 Cal League Ken Griffey Jr. San Bernardino Spirit #34 Baseball Card Look Like?

A massive wave of new people entered the hobby over the last few years. Things that might be common knowledge for veteran collectors may not be so common for all of the newbies. Scammers are just waiting to take advantage of these naive new collectors. So many fraudsters have been exposed so far this year with many more on the way.

I recently watched someone spend over $100 on a handful of unlicensed/fake 1988 Cal League Ken Griffey Jr. San Bernardino Spirit #34 baseball cards. Its sad that this still happens.

Reinforcing the fundamentals of this hobby can’t hurt. Especially with all of the new people. Below is what you should be looking for if you’re in the market for an authentic 1988 Cal League Ken Griffey Jr. San Bernardino Spirit #34.

Authentic front
Authentic back

In the early 90’s an unlicensed version of this card began to surface. The overall layout and design is similar to the authentic version, but the dead giveaway is the different photo. As you can see there are two unlicensed cards floating around. Both utilize the same photo, but the text and placement of the text are a little different. The card number on the second example is a bit fatter as well. You never see these unlicensed fakes graded by PSA, BGS, or SGC because they aren’t authentic. The secondary market has been filled with them for years. You’ll notice they are always cheaper when compared to the authentic version. Its funny to see that one was pictured on a bobblehead in 2019.

Unlicensed front
Unlicensed back
Unlicensed front
Unlicensed back

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How To Spot A Fake Ken Griffey, Jr. 1988 ProCards Vermont Mariners Card

“The Kid” has one of the largest collecting bases in the hobby.  His rookies from Topps, Bowman, Donruss, and Upper Deck will always be at the core of any collection.

Before Ken Griffey, Jr. had rookie cards made by the major manufacturers in 1989, he had a handful of minor league cards issued first.  Some of these minor league “rookies” have more of a demand than any traditional rookie card featuring him in a Seattle Mariners uniform.  Like almost everything, it comes down to rarity and condition.

Although its not his most valuable minor league card, Ken Griffey, Jr.’s 1988 ProCards Vermont Mariners #NNO is still one collectors like to own.  This was his last minor league card.  ProCards made a 27-card set for the Vermont Mariners in 1988.  That set did not contain a Griffey.  A Ken Griffey, Jr. card was issued later on that year as a promotional piece.  Compared to the regular set, the Griffey card is basically the same except it has a very distinct red border, and doesn’t have a card number.  The main set has a silver border.

Ken Griffey, Jr.’s 1988 ProCards Vermont Mariners #NNO is one of his most affordable minor league cards.  But you still need to be careful when buying one.  Whether they were reissued a few years later or just straight up counterfeit, many non-authentic versions of this card exist.

To the untrained eye, its very easy to mistake a non-authentic card for the real thing.  Pictured above is an authentic card.  Below is a counterfeit.  Real examples have terrible centering.  Fake ones almost always have good centering.  Take a look at the text on the real card.  The words “KEN GRIFFEY OF” are printed in small/bold font.  Those same words on the fake card are printed using slightly larger font that isn’t bold.  Thicker font was also used on the fake card for the words “VERMONT MARINERS”.  The space between the bottom of the real card and the words “VERMONT MARINERS” is much larger too versus the fake one.

Card of the Day: Ken Griffey, Jr. 1997 Upper Deck Game Jersey