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Fred McGriff baseball cards made a slow and steady trek to hobby stardom, much as the man himself plodded away at an All-Star level year after year.

Indeed, Crime Dog hardly ever made jaws drop with his raw numbers — though he did uncork a few moonshots — but when you looked up at the end of the year, he always had his 30 home runs and 100 RBI.

Every time he did, his baseball cards picked up a bit more collector intereste and accrued a few more bits of monetary value.

And when we looked up at the end of his career?

Well, McGriff was within spitting distance of both 500 home runs and 2500 hits, and he had sailed past 1500 RBI.

Likewise, McGriff’s rookie cards had risen into the upper echelon of the sets they appeared in, and all the hundreds of other of McGriff’s cards had plenty of admirers.

Then, in the glare of the gaudy numbers from the so-called Steroid Era, McGriff’s Hall of Fame candidacy sputtered, and he eventually fell off the ballot.

In the meantime, though, the shine turned to sh– … well, to something else — for the PED guys, and the groundswell to get McGriff into Cooperstown grew by the year.

So did his card prices, even if modestly.

Today, Crime Dog and his baseball cards have millions of ardent fans spanning all generations and geographical distributions, and all the Hall talk of recent years promises to keep his cardboard simmering along for decades to come.

What follows, then, is a rundown of the 19 best Fred McGriff baseball cards, where “best” is somewhat subjective but is generally comprised of a concoction of card values, the general hobby import of the issue, and pure aesthetics.

Unless otherwise noted, values cited are based on recent selling prices for PSA 10 copies of the cards being discussed.

Batter up!

(Note: The following sections contain affiliate links to eBay and Amazon listings for the cards being discussed.)

1986 Donruss Fred McGriff Rated Rookie (#28)

1986 Donruss Fred McGriff Rated Rookie

This is the only true Crime Dog rookie card distributed in the United States (there was a Leaf parallel in Canada), and it’s easily the most recognizable and popular of all Fred McGriff baseball cards.

Though it has lagged behind other 1986 Donruss rookie cards at various points in its existence, this Rated Rookie is a classic that today matches up to the best the set has to offer. It’s even encroaching into Jose Canseco territory pricewise.

And McGriff never even had to hit a home run with his head to make that happen!

Value: $325-350

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1987 Topps Traded Fred McGriff (#74T)

1987 Topps Traded Fred McGriff

It took a year-and-a-half after Donruss broke the Crime Dog card seal for Topps to jump in on McGriff, as The Real One eschewed the young first baseman in their 1986 and 1987 base sets, as well as their 1986 Traded issue.

After McGriff popped 20 home runs as a rookie during the summer of 1987, though, he finally made his woodgrain debut that fall on this 1987 Topps Traded number. The consolation for the long wait is that this one is arguably the most interesting of all Fred McGriff baseball cards issued before or during (or shortly after) his rookie season.

Note that there is a more scarce Tiffany version of this card that generally fetches a multiple of 3-4X the price for the base Traded version.

Value: $40-45

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1988 Fleer Fred McGriff (#118)

1988 Fleer Fred McGriff

We had to get a Fleer card on our McGriff rundown at some point, right?

And, since Topps occupied our “Best Fred McGriff Baseball Card of 1987” slot, this card is a decent proxy.

To wit, if you move your head back and forth real fast between McGriff’s 1987 Fleer Update and 1988 Fleer cards, you’ll get a pretty cool stop-motion Crime Dog effect.

And probably a headache (you’ve been warned).

Point is, the photos are nearly identical, so this 1988 Fleer gives you the essence of McGriff’s first Fleer card (1987 Update), with the added “bonus” of those Little Debbie Snack Cake borders.

(There is a glossy version of this card that doesn’t outpace the base version by much, if any, in terms of value.)

Value: $10-20

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1989 Upper Deck Fred McGriff (#671)

1989 Upper Deck Fred McGriff

Like every other star, and most players in general, McGriff had a pretty nifty looking base card in the inaugural (1989) Upper Deck issue.

That one checked in at #572 and features the customary strong photography and minimal design that early UD issues were known for.

This card, on the other hand, is one of 26 team checklists that feature the artwork of Vernon Wells, Sr., which both gives us a different (painted) look at a still-young McGriff and reminds us of the big-division days before the latest rounds of expansion.

Value: $5-10

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1990 Leaf Fred McGriff (#132)

1990 Leaf Fred McGriff

Much as Upper Deck had done in 1989, Donruss lit up the hobby in 1990 with their own innovation.

No, not those crime-scene-in-wax red-bordered 1990 Donruss menaces.

I’m talking about the 1990 Leaf set, wherein Donruss became the first existing manufacturer to pick up the premium-card gauntlet that UD threw down.

By creating an elegant and very limited (at least by the standards of the day) set chock full of superstar and rookie cards, Donruss positioned Leaf as THE hot chase item of the year.

And collectors chased it all the way into triple-digit box prices almost out of the gate.

Along the way, many of us uncovered this cool, subdued, but classy shot of McGriff going about his business in the batter’s box for the Toronto Blue Jays.

Value: $40-45

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1991 Stadium Club Fred McGriff (#357)

1991 Stadium Club Fred McGriff

By 1991, McGriff was with the San Diego Padres, dealt along with Tony Fernandez in the 1990-91 offseason in exchange for Roberto Alomar and Joe Carter.

In what amounted to a challenge trade, the Blue Jays brought in a couple big pieces who would figure prominently in their World Series titles in 1992 and 1993.

The Pads, meanwhile, got an All-Star middle infielder and a primetime slugger in McGriff would continue his excellence in the National League. Indeed, Crime Dog topped 100 RBI for the first time that summer, and he won his second home run title while playing in the San Diego sunshine in 1992.

For their part, Topps jumped head-first into the premium end of the hobby in 1991, rolling out their first Stadium Club issue, which again raised the bar on card quality and cost.

And that’s where we find McGriff, sunny and smiling in his Padres uniform, with a bat across his shoulders on one of the bright, new Stadium Club cards that still looks fresh today. It’s also among the first of all Fred McGriff baseball cards to show him with the Padres, so … bonus!

Value: $15-20

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1992 Donruss Diamond Kings Fred McGriff (#DK26)

1992 Donruss Diamond Kings Fred McGriff

In 1992, his second season with the Friars, McGriff hit 35 home runs to win his second home run crown – one in the American League, one in the National League.

That same year, Donruss pulled their popular Diamond Kings cards from their base set and turned the 27 Dick Perez painting-cards into insers, plopped into packs across both series of the base set.

McGriff made the lineup as the Pads’ representative, and he looks happy and shiny, as usual.

A couple of PSA 9 copies of this card have changed hands during the pandemic era, both in the $50 range, but that’s about it for recorded sales of graded specimens.

You can usually find raw copies for under $5, though.

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1993 Topps Finest Refractors Fred McGriff (#106)

1993 Topps Finest Refractors Fred McGriff

After a couple years of mere premium-card play with Stadium Club, Topps decided they needed to step into the “super premium” arena to compete with offerings like Fleer Flair and Upper Deck SP.

And, with the debut of 1993 Finest, Topps pretty much rebuilt that arena – super-thick chromium cardstock, space-age design elements, good-to-great photography (when it could peep through the design), shiny everything.

Add in an announced print run of unopened product that worked out to there being about 30,000 of each card produced, and you had the formula for hobby fire.

Topps poured gasoline on the inferno by also inserting a complete run of “refractors” paralleling the entire 199-card base set. Based on the published product numbers and insertion ratios, there should have been just 241 of each refractor produced, though some claim(ed) that some additional quantity were “leaked” into the hobby (with no proof of said leakage that I’ve seen).

As you might imagine, all the whiz-bangery, chase-card morsels, and limited production made 1993 Finest a hobby star and, more importantly, a hobby trailblazer that set the stage for much of what was to come.

Crime Dog was part of all that pageantry, and his 1993 Finest Refractor is one of most important and valuable of all Fred McGriff cards.

Note that this card hardly ever comes up for sale, and basically never in PSA 10, so values below are for PSA 9 copies (and are subject to fluctuations based on when a copy is sold).

Value: $200-250

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1994 Bowman’s Best Fred McGriff (#15)

1994 Bowman's Best Fred McGriff

While Topps was still rolling out McGriff in his, uh, Finest form in 1993, Crime Dog was introducing himself to a whole new fanbase.

That’s because the Pads sent him to the Braves at the trade deadline that summer for a bag of magic beans. It was McGriff who waved a wand, though, as his 19 home runs, 55 RBI, and .310 batting average down the stretch helped Atlanta win the old National League West by one game over the Giants.

With both teams winning 103+ games, and with 1994 strike followed by the Wild Card Era beginning in 1995, many consider that ‘93 bloodbath to be the last great pennant race.

Regardless of your feelings on all that, there’s no denying that McGriff made his presence felt in Atlanta or that he appeared ready for anything on his 1994 Bowman’s Best card.

Bowman’s Best?

Yeah …

Never one to let an opportunity to grab collector bucks slip by, Topps combined their popular Bowman line with the chromium glitz of Finest to produce a sort of Frankenstein that, among other things, introduced the red/blue numbering that would become a Bowman staple.

Value: $10-15

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1995 Topps Fred McGriff (#355)

1995 Topps Fred McGriff

After The Strike that squashed so many dreams in 1994, canceled the World Series, and lopped off the front of the 1995 seasons, many fans vowed never to return to the game.

Others just wanted the talking heads and dollar signs to shut up for a while so they could watch their teams and enjoy the simple pleasures of the diamond.

At its roots, the hobby has always been about simple pleasures, too, and what could be more pure and uplifting – in a cardboard sort of way – than a simple Topps base card featuring a man who just liked to go out and hit and help his team win every day.

1995 Topps Fred McGriff – simply beautiful.

Value: $45-55

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1996 Collector’s Choice You Make/Play Fred McGriff Home Run (#24A)

1996 Collector's Choice You Make/Play Fred McGriff Home Run

Collector’s Choice was a huge-for-the-time 790-card set from Upper Deck that aimed at giving collectors (get the name connection?) a lower-priced alternative to all the premium and super-premium products on the market.

Sort of ironic, considering it was UD themselves who popped open that particular Pandora’s box.

Anyhoo, this issue also gave collectors a shot at many different insert sets, including 90 “You Make the Play” cards that had rounded corners and featured a play outcome on the front of each card.

Consider them an homage to (or ripoff of) 1968 Topps Game cards or 1978 Topps card backs.

McGriff shows up as both a “DOUBLE” and a “HOME RUN.”

The shot on this card looks more home run-y (or pop fly-y) to me, and besides, Crime Dog hit more four-baggers than two-baggers.

So he’s a home run in our lineup.

Value: $10-15

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1997 Bowman Chrome Refractor Fred McGriff (#84)

1997 Bowman Chrome Refractor Fred McGriff

The Braves lost the 1996 World Series to the Yankees and the 1987 National League Championship Series to the Marlins, both in six games.

You couldn’t blame Crime Dog for those shortfalls, though, as he hit well in both matchups, notably delivering two longballs against the Yanks. He also helped Atlanta get to October in the first place courtesy of his 20+ homer output each summer.

In between those two postseason tilts, McGriff appeared on a lot of baseball cards, including this fetching 1997 bowman issue showing him in waist-high scoop mode at first base.

Add in some dirt on the knee, a splash of Chrome shine, and a bit of Refractor magic, and this one’s hard to beat.

As of this writing, late in 2022, PSA has graded just ONE copy of the Crime Dog Refractor, so you won’t see graded copies very often. PSA 9 copies of somewhat comparable stars like Sammy Sosa, though, have changed hands fairly recently in the $100 range.

Raw copies of other star-level players sell in the $10-30 range most of the time.

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1998 Fleer Tradition Vintage 63 Fred McGriff (#123)

1998 Fleer Tradition Vintage 63 Fred McGriff

In November of 1997, the expansion Tampa Bay Devil Rays purchased McGriff’s contract from the Braves, bringing him home to the area where he starred in high school just in time for the Rays’ inaugural season.

While his homer total slid to 19 in Tropicana Field in 1998, McGriff still logged a triumphant homecoming, hitting a solid .284 with 33 doubles while driving in 81 runs.

That same year, Fleer rebranded their base set as Fleer Tradition and also issued a partial parallel set dubbed Vintage ‘63. Issued one card per base pack, Vintage featured 128 cards across two series.

As the name implies, Vintage ‘63 showcased the classic 1963 Fleer design, while presenting the same photo from each player’s base card.

And so here we see Fred McGriff, playing for his hometown Rays, finishing off a home run, and coming to us from a 1963 baseball card.

In case you were wondering, yes, Crime Dog was born in 1963. So, you know, it’s the only one of the many hundreds of Fred McGriff baseball cards that’s as old as he is.

Sorta.

As with many late vintage base(ish) cards, this one doesn’t show up on the market in graded form very often, but you’re looking at a few bucks a pop for nice raw copies.

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1999 Upper Deck Black Diamond Triple Diamons Fred McGriff (#84)

1999 Upper Deck Black Diamond Triple Diamons Fred McGriff

Black Diamond was a 130-card set issued by Upper Deck in 1999 with a premium price point of $3.99 for a six-card pack. This thing was loaded with a baker’s dozen insert sets, including the Triple Diamond that caught our (OK, my) attention here.

That 90-card “short set” limited each card to a numbered print run of 1500.

So, not all *that* limited, but this is still a pretty cool looking, finite-existence Fred McGriff baseball card.

This one doesn’t come up for sale all that often, so solid pricing numbers are tough to come by, too. In general, you can expect to pay a few bucks for a raw copy and likely $20 or more for a PSA 9 or above.

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2000 SP Authentic Fred McGriff Fred McGriff (#169)

2000 SP Authentic Fred McGriff Fred McGriff

As with most years beginning with a “199” or “200,” the year 2000 featured enough different baseball card issues to suit any taste and to choke a jungle full of burmese pythons.

The matter of “best” Fred McGriff baseball card for the year comes down to that personal taste, in other words.

Here we have one that at least gives us a different look than most others, with a ton of white space, some fresh purple highlights, a bit of gold foil, and a ready-and-waiting Crime Dog on the bag.

There’s not a whole lot NOT to like, though that SP logo is a bit intrusive.

As for SP itself, this was Upper Deck’s premium product, sliding in at about a dollar per card in terms of MSRP. There were 194 base cards split among two series, and packs yielded somewhere north of 15 different insert products.

Today, these cards don’t show up on the secondary market too often, more a consequence of limited demand than any extreme scarcity. Expect price tags around $1-5 or so for solid raw copies.

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2001 Topps Heritage Fred McGriff (#131)

2001 Topps Heritage Fred McGriff

McGriff entered 2001 as a member of the Devil Rays and exited as a Cub, brought to the northside in a deadline deal aimed at getting the Lovable Losers into the playoffs.

Crime Dog hit 12 dingers down the stretch, but there would be no October baseball in Wrigley, as the Cubbies finished third in the N.L. Central.

McGriff collectors at least had some consolation for his early exit (again), in the form of this 1952-Topps-style Heritage card. Though the Cubs logo would have looked more period as part of the fairly glowing painting-photo of Crime Dog, at least Rays fans got a glimpse of their team duds in a classic baseball design.

And, similar to the 1998/1963 Fleer combo above, this stands as one of the (faux) oldest of all Fred McGriff baseball cards.

Value: $10-15

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2002 Bowman Heritage Fred McGriff (#234)

2002 Bowman Heritage Fred McGriff

For 2002, Topps combined two of their popular, retro ideas to come up with *drumroll* Bowman Heritage!

So, here we get Fred McGriff in a Cubbies uniform, coming at us from the friendly confines of the 1954 Bowman design.

It was a match made in baseball heaven, and Cubs fans got to enjoy the marriage all summer long as the 38-year-old cranked out his last 30-homer, 100-RBI season.

This is another card that not many have bothered to have graded, but the good news is you can often find nice raw copies for a couple of bucks (or less).

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2003 Playoff Prestige Baseball Fred McGriff (#105)

2003 Playoff Prestige Baseball Fred McGriff

Truthfully, it was pretty hard to keep track of all the hobby comings and goings in the early 2000s.

For instance, Donruss had become Donruss-Playoffs and, like all the other companies, were cranking out enough different sets you’d have needed some sort of DNA sequencing to keep them all straight.

This one looks dramatically different enough, though, to stand out from the pack, and it even hearkens back a decade or so to the days of Flair and Studio. Part of a two-series, 290-card issue, this Playoff Prestige McGriff also sports another throwback feature: the images are all Cubs, but the team designation on the bottom of the card says “Dodgers.”

Indeed, McGriff had signed on with L.A. as a free agent in November of 2002 and would spend the last summer of his 30s on the west coast.

This is another card you won’t find for sale too often, and hardly ever graded, but also another one you should be able to pick up for a few bucks in nice raw condition.

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2004 Donruss Studio Fred McGriff (#188)

2004 Donruss Studio Fred McGriff

McGriff was back in Tampa for his age-40 season, signed by the Rays late in Spring Training of 2004.

It was going to be Crime Dog’s farewell tour, and his shot at crashing the 500 Home Run Club – he only needed nine longballs, after all.

Alas, McGriff appeared in just 27 games and managed a meager two home runs before Tampa released him in late July.

Still, he wore that uniform long enough the second time around for Donruss to capture him as part of their long-running Studio set. It’s a striking card of Crime Dog standing in front of the Tampa skyline.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before …

Not many graded McGriff’s come up for sale, but you can get an idea of what one might bring should it surface when you consider you can usually find PSA 10 copies of the Alex Rodriguez card from the same set for less than $50.

Raw, you should be able to find McGriff for a buck or two.

And one more thing – if McGriff against that sunset-lit Tampa skyline doesn’t make you hear CeeLo’s “Bright Lights Bigger City” in your head, you’re just not living right.

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So, what’s missing from this list of the best Fred McGriff baseball cards?

Put another way, what are your favorite Fred McGriff baseball cards?

I’d love to hear you picks!

Fred McGriff 1986 Leaf Rookie #28 Toronto Blue Jays , Braves Rookie RC

$0.31 (3 Bids)
End Date: Thursday 02/09/2023 22:15:01 EST
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1986 Donruss Leaf #28 Fred McGriff Baseball

$7.00
End Date: Monday 03/06/2023 18:19:51 EST
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1986 Donruss Fred McGriff Rated RC #28 MINT

$0.01 ( 1 Bid)
End Date: Thursday 02/16/2023 20:31:01 EST
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1986 Donruss Fred McGriff RC #28 Rated Rookie Card Toronto Blue Jays

$4.99 ( 1 Bid)
End Date: Tuesday 02/07/2023 21:09:01 EST
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Fred McGriff 2013 topps five star auto gold /333

$4.13 (3 Bids)
End Date: Saturday 02/11/2023 11:17:02 EST
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1986 Leaf Fred McGriff RC #28 Rated Rookie Card Toronto Blue Jays

$7.50 (4 Bids)
End Date: Tuesday 02/07/2023 20:33:01 EST
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