Top 5 Best Fred McGriff Baseball Cards to Buy

December 16, 2022

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Fred McGriff, aka 'The Crime Dog,' was a feared slugger for six teams during his eighteen-year major league career

McGriff amassed 493 home runs, with an amazing ten seasons of 30 home runs or more. When he retired in 2004, many figured McGriff was a shoo-in for the Hall, but baseball writers denied him in every single year of his eligibility.

Finally, in 2022, McGriff's HOF dream came true, getting a nod from The Veteran's Committee.  Collectors have snapped up McGriff's rookie cards, and prices have increased.

In this piece, we review five of Fred McGriff's rookie and other later-year cards that could be a good buy now for collectors and investors

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1. 1993 Finest Refractor Fred McGriff #106, PSA 10

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1993 Fred McGriff Finest Refractor

Fred McGriff’s most valuable card is a PSA 10 1993 Finest Refractor, the first year that Topps issued refractor cards in packs.

The card features McGriff in a San Diego Padres uniform, where he played from 1991 to 1993. Only 17 have been awarded a perfect, Gem-Mint PSA 10 grade.

Recent auction data is sparse, but sellers have priced the PSA 10 McGriff Finest card at over $2500. 

A PSA 9 (Mint) example is much more obtainable and (in my opinion) undervalued given McGriff's latest HOF induction.

Only 71 PSA 9 copies exist; with recent auction sales averaging $200.

This card has the potential to see an increase in value once McGriff is officially enshrined in the HOF in 2023. 

2. 1986 TCMA Syracuse Chiefs Fred McGriff #2, PSA 10

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1985 TCMA Syracuse Fred McGriff Minor League card

Fred McGriff’s first trading card was his 1986 TCMA Syracuse minor league card. This card is very rare in a PSA 10 example with only nine copies in existence.

There is one listed on eBay as December 2022 for $1,400, but the last sale was over two years ago for only $75. Thus, there's probably a middle ground on actual value. I'd say somewhere in the $800-$900 range is fair value.

A PSA 9, Mint example is slightly easier to find, with 26 PSA-graded copies. It is worth around $250. 

The TCMA minor league card is an under-rated McGriff card and investing in a PSA 9 example is most likely your best option if you can't afford a Gem-Mint copy

3. 1986 Leaf Fred McGriff #28 (RC), PSA 10 

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Fred McGriff’s most valuable rookie card is his 1986 Leaf rookie card. Recent PSA 10 examples have averaged $1300 at auction, although prices have trended up since McGriff's official vote into the Hall Of Fame.

Leaf cards were issued in Canada (versus Donruss issued in the US) and had a much more limited distribution as compared to the 1986 Donruss set. French writing can be found on the backs of the Leaf cards, along with English translations. 

Only 55 Leaf McGriff rookie cards have earned a PSA 10 grade. This card would be a great addition for the Fred McGriff super collector, but certainly out of the budget for many value concious collectors. 

Surprisingly only 170 PSA 9 (Mint) copies exist, making this also a tough find. Recent auction sales have the PSA 9 McGriff valued at only $200, which is my opininon is a great long term investment.

4. 1986 Donruss Fred McGriff #28 (RC), PSA 10

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A 1986 Donruss Rated Rookie Fred McGriff Rookie card

The front of the 1986 Donruss McGriff card is identical to his Leaf rookie, but with red 'Donruss' text in the top left, instead of 'Leaf'

McGriff’s Donruss Rookie card is considered his PSA Hall of Fame Rookie Registry card, which means PSA has designated this card as his most popular and most collectible.

McGriff’s Donruss rookie was on the PSA Future Hall of Fame Registry list for many years. If you followed the registry list and were a believer in McGriff getting into the Hall of Fame then this was the card to buy.

Only 412 McGriff Donruss rookies have earned a PSA 10 grade. Recent sales of PSA 10 Donruss McGriff cards have averaged around $600 of late.

As an example of the effects a HOF induction can have, PSA 9 copies of the Donruss rookie sold for $50 to $60 from November to December.

Once his HOF induction was announced, the PSA 9 copies shot up to a high value of $150 and still sell for over $100 at eBay auctions.

McGriff's Donruss Rookie card is a must-have for any HOF Rookie card collector in a PSA 9 or PSA 10 example.

Signed Slabbed Example:

A signed Fred McGriff Donruss Rookie card is a great way to collect and invest in a more unique collectible.

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This example is dual-graded, meaning the card received a PSA 9 grade on the card and an autograph grade of PSA 10. There are only five examples with the dual-grade 9/10 and five 10/10’s. The most recent sale of a 9/10 example was in late November 2022 for $400. 

I would expect that unique pieces like this signed McGriff rookie should hold up well as an invesment over the longer term. 

5. 1996 Leaf Signature (First MLB Licensed Auto)

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McGriff’s first MLB Licensed Autographed Card featured in a full set was his 1996 Leaf Signature Autograph.

There are two versions signed by McGriff. The Extended Autograph card with a print run of 1000 and the Extended Autograph Century Marks with a print run of 100.

Most collectors or buyers aren't aware that this was the first set that featured a full set of MLB licensed on-card autographed cards.

McGriff’s Leaf Signatures Extended Autograph card sells for around $120 on eBay. The Extended Autograph Century Marks is tougher to find and sells for a few multiples of that if you can find one.

This is a nice alternative McGriff card to buy if you collect autographed cards. Only six in total have been graded thus far by PSA. This is a great card to buy ungraded and graded by PSA.

The 'Crime Dog' - Fred McGriff

Fred McGriff started his baseball career in 1986 with the Toronto Blue Jays, playing for six teams throughout his illustrious eighteen-year career.

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1987 Fred McGriff Topps Card

McGriff is more affectionately known as 'The Crime Dog,' a nickname created by legendary baseball announcer Chris Berman.

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Chris Berman gave Fred McGriff the nickmame 'Crime Dog', named after the legendary McGruff.

McGriff started his career with the Blue Jays in 1986. After four full seasons as one of the top homerun hitters in the AL, McGriff shipped off to the San Diego Padres in a blockbuster trade. Toronto swapped McGriff and Tony Fernandes for Roberto Alomar and Joe Carter.

McGriff got traded away again only three years later, this time to the Atlanta Braves, in what turned out to be an utterly lopsided trade in favor of Atlanta. McGriff was a crucial part of the dominant Atlanta Braves dynasty teams during the early 1990s, where he won his only World Series Championship in 1995.

McGriff was a feared slugger in his prime playing days, always batting third or cleanup in the lineup. His career stats are impressive - McGriff was a five-time All-Star, three-time Silver Slugger award winner, and 1995 World Series Champion. He finished his career with 493 home runs, 2,490 hits, and 1,550 RBIs. 

McGriff retired in 2004, but baseball writers never truly gave him his due for the Hall as his career accomplishments flew under the radar. The highest percentage vote that McGriff received from the baseball writers while on the Hall of Fame ballot was 39.8 percent.

McGriff exceeded the maximum time allowed on the ballot (10 years), and his next option to get into the Hall of Fame was to get inducted through the veteran's committee vote.

On December 4th, 2022, McGriff was unanimously elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the veteran's committee vote. McGriff's cards have seen a significant increase in value now that he is the newest member of Cooperstown for the class of 2023.

Vinnie Rullo

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