Although cards for the "Crime Dog" started slowly in the 1980s, he was a fixture in some of the best parallel and insert sets during the height of his career in the mid-to-late '90s. This list looks at some of the top Fred McGriff cards that are available for baseball card enthusiasts.
Fred McGriff was one of the most feared power hitters at his peak, posting more than 30 home runs 10 times and leading the American League in dingers twice. He started launching home runs shortly after becoming a full-time player with the Blue Jays in 1987. Following a trade to the Padres, he eventually ended up in Atlanta where his power-hitting abilities teamed with Chipper Jones in the middle of the Braves lineup. McGriff helped the team win the 1995 World Series and become a perennial playoff force in the National League to close out the decade.
The Fred McGriff rookie card in 1986 Donruss has long been one of the most popular first-year cards from the era. While it took a year or two for other card companies to catch up, McGriff was a superstar player by the '90s. As a result, he earned a high profile in many releases, especially in the sets that came after 1989 Upper Deck Baseball. He also managed to appear in autograph and relic inserts, but the majority of his bat and jersey swatches were mass-produced and do not hold much value.
While the cardboard selection from McGriff's active playing career is vast, he regularly appears in modern baseball card sets. Overall value remains on the lower side, but McGriff is very much a relevant player for collectors well into his retirement.
The following guide looks at some of the most notable Fred McGriff cards available. Focusing on his active playing days, the list highlights key rookie cards, parallels, inserts, and autographs.
Top 10 Fred McGriff Cards to Collect
Bolded sets go directly to detailed product profiles and checklists when available.
10. 1987 Topps Traded Fred McGriff #74
1986 Topps Traded captured several of the rookies who made appearances during the year, including Jose Canseco, and Barry Bonds. However, McGriff only appeared in three games that year for the Blue Jays, and did not make the cut. After a spot was cleared out on the roster for McGriff to become the everyday DH, he was given a card in 1987 Topps Traded. While this is not a true rookie card, many collectors consider it an important early card for McGriff. Both raw and graded copies are inexpensive, but this card is important if you are trying to assemble a thorough collection of Fred McGriff cards.
9. 1985 TCMA Syracuse Chiefs Fred McGriff #2
TCMA made sets for dozens of Minor League Baseball teams during the summer of 1985. Similar to other years, the 1985 cards shared a design across the board. The '85 TCMA cards featured a blue border and the team name in thick, black print across the top of the card. There are other early cards of McGriff, including a second option within the TCMA team set, but this is by far the most popular pre-rookie. It's worth pointing out that the team set does not cost much more than the single McGriff. It includes a few other Blue Jays regulars from their 1980s and 1990s teams, most notably Tom Henke.
8. 1997 Skybox E-X2000 Essential Credentials Fred McGriff #58 #/99
The E-X Baseball sets were one of the most popular baseball card products during this period of collecting. Each design used some combination of translucent material and foil to create a unique background. As many collectors know, 1997 was the first year that Skybox added Essential Credentials parallels for MLB. While later releases had varying serial numbers based on the card number in the set, this one kept things simple. Credentials parallels are serial numbered out of 299, and the Essential Credentials cards are limited to just 99 copies. Given the low print run, they can be tricky to find and carry a much larger price tag.
7. 1998 Donruss Crusade Fred McGriff #59
Donruss Crusade was an extremely popular cross-brand insert that stretched across four different products: Donruss, Leaf, Donruss Update, and Leaf Stars & Rookies. The Fred McGriff card was one of 30 Crusade cards that appeared in 1998 Leaf. The odds for each of the colored variations depended upon the serial number, but they were hard to pull from packs and were in high demand on the secondary market. In all, there are three different pack-issued color versions, including green (250 copies), purple (100 copies) and red (25 copies). Player collectors still love these cards and they are very popular. This is another must-have insert card for those putting together a collection of Fred McGriff cards.
6. 1993 Donruss The Elite Series Fred McGriff #19 #/10,000
1993 was the third year that Donruss issued The Elite Series cards. Similar to other years, Elite cards were numbered to 10,000 copies, which sounds like a large number in today’s baseball card world, but they were scarce. It often took collectors dozens of boxes just to track down one card. There were not as many insert cards in 1993 as there have been in recent years, but this was McGriff’s first great chase card.
5. 2000 Topps Stadium Club Co-Signers Tino Martinez, Fred McGriff Autograph #CO15
The Tampa area has a long tradition of producing great baseball talent. Jefferson High School has seen multiple players selected in the MLB Draft, five of whom made it to the Majors. The two best are Fred McGriff and longtime Yankees and Mariners first baseman Tino Martinez. The power-hitting first basemen went to the same high school, but just missed being there at the same time. The duo combined for five World Series rings, seven All-Star game appearances, and more than 800 home runs.
Topps has put together some great pairings for the Co-Signers autographs over the years, and these two former Tampa-area high school stars are a home run with collectors. In case you forgot, the pair even played together with the Devil Rays in 2004.
4. 1996 Select Certified Mirror Parallels Fred McGriff #66
Many modern sports card fans enjoy completing the "rainbow" that can be made by collecting the different colored and patterned parallels from a product. The concept actually began in the mid-1990s with Select Certified. For the 1996 version, there are several Fred McGriff editions that collectors can try to find, with each holding a different degree of difficulty based on the print run. The base card, Artist’s Proof, and Certified Red are the easiest to locate, and will only set you back a few dollars at most. There are four other parallels beyond those which all have low print runs for this era and are more high-end in terms of price. The Certified Blue is numbered to 180 copies, Mirror Red has 90 copies, Mirror Blue has 45 copies, and the Mirror Gold comes in at a stingy print run of 30 cards. Tough cards to find, but definitely worth having one of these in your collection.
3. 1993 Topps Finest Refractor Fred McGriff #106
Fred McGriff was one of baseball’s brightest stars in 1993, so his inclusion in 1993 Finest Baseball was automatic. This Refractor parallel card appears in the All-Stars subset. These cards have the green background as opposed to the majority of the set with the silver frame. There are other players in '93 Finest who ended up with career numbers that surpassed McGriff, but the Crime Dog's Refractor is still one of the more popular cards in the set. It also has a lower graded population than other stars from this era, so finding a raw copy can be a bit easier.
2. 1996 Leaf Signature Autographs Fred McGriff SP
McGriff had numerous certified autographs over the years, but his 1996 Leaf Signature card stands out from the rest. The landmark set included McGriff’s autograph in the Extended Series, which was the second and final group of cards that Leaf issued. This Fred McGriff autograph was one of the few short prints in the set, meaning there are only 1,000 cards as opposed to the more standard 5,000. The short-printed numbers are noticeable when trying to track down copies of these cards. Additionally, this was his best certified autograph for a significant amount of time, so many of these cards have already found a permanent home in collections.
1. 1986 Donruss Fred McGriff RC #28
The 1986 Donruss set is regarded as one of the best baseball products from the 1980s, with the Fred McGriff Rated Rookie being one of the most attractive cards. Considered his only true rookie, this card was popular throughout his career, and has continued to be one of the most visible rookie cards from the 1980s among collectors. Raw copies are inexpensive and plentiful, but high-grade values can push into the hundreds. This iconic Rated Rookie card is also found as part of the Leaf set, which is the Canadian version of Donruss.
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