By the time 1989 baseball cards saw the light of day, there were two things collectors were sure of: Upper Deck was going to change the hobby forever and Ken Griffey, Jr., was going to change the game forever.

And, for once, we were pretty much right on both counts.

With their high-end cardstock, eye-popping photography, innovations like foil packs and holograms, and sticker-shock prices, Upper Deck set a standard that other manufacturers scrambled for years to catch up with.

Now, whether those changes were good or bad for the hobby is still a matter of debate all these years later.

In the meantime, with his power, batting eye, speed, grace in the field, gilded glovework, and MLB bloodlines, young Griffey was destined for greatness … and, unlike other “he’s the next …” types, Junior actually managed to handle the pressure of those expectations and put together a Hall of Fame career.

In the spring of 1989, though, the jury was still out on both fronts, but, by making Griffey the #1 card in their first-ever set, Upper Deck delivered an instant hobby classic and set up one of the most enduring images the hobby has ever seen:

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Of course, UD wasn’t alone in issuing a Griffey rookie card that spring. Thanks to his status as the overall #1 pick in the 1987 MLB Draft and his quick rise through the Mariners’ system, everyone wanted a piece of Griffey’s star.

Well, everyone but Topps, who waited until their year-end Traded sets to push out a Junior card.

OK, and Score, who also waited until the debut of their Traded set to also debut Griffey.

But Donruss and Fleer were right there with Upper Deck at the forefront of the Griffey parade, making all those brands must-rip choices when Junior himself debuted in the big leagues at 19 on Opening Day in 1989.

And that appearance set the stage for yet another Griffey rookie card, one that turned heads right away, but one that also took awhile for collectors to fully warm up to.

Behold, the 1989 Bowman Ken Griffey Father & Son extravaganza (#259):

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Funny thing is, though, this wasn’t really positioned as a father-son offering, at all. Here’s the card back as proof:

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Yeah, those stats belong to Ken Griffey, Sr., back for his second go-round with the Cincinnati Reds.

Junior had his own card in the set, at card #220, but both of these pasteboards — like all the rest of the 1989 Bowmans — lagged in collector interest for years thanks to Topps’ decision to oversize their resurrection of the old-time brand.

These days, both ‘89 Bowman Griffeys, as well as their Tiffany counterparts, have plenty of fans, even if they are sort hard to store and display alongside, say, your 1988 Shawn Hillegas RCs.

And there’s so much history — and so much upcoming history — wrapped up in that father-son beauty, it’s hard to imagine any sort of Griffey collection without both Kens, side-by-side.

Don’t you think?

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The snazzy “father-son” is just one of many beauts that might rightly be considered Junior “rookie cards.” Check out our rundown of the 12 most important Griffey RCs on YouTube.

1989 Bowman #216 Edgar Martinez RC - PSA 8

$0.99 ( 1 Bid)
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1989 BOWMAN #220 KEN GRIFFEY JR. RC HOF PSA 8 A3360567-843

$14.08 (10 Bids)
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1989 BOWMAN #266 JOHN SMOLTZ RC BRAVES HOF PSA 9 A3360566-824

$4.67 (5 Bids)
End Date: Sunday 06/26/2022 20:03:26 EDT
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1989 BOWMAN #311 BARRY LARKIN REDS HOF PSA 10 A3360594-828

$13.00 (9 Bids)
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