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Most Valuable 1989 Baseball Cards: Top Picks & Investment Strategies (2023)

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What is the most valuable baseball card from 1989In 1989, a total of 792 Topps baseball cards were released – and some still remain incredibly valuable today. From Ken Griffey Jr.’s Upper Deck Rookie Card to Gary Sheffield’s SS Upside Down Rookie Card, there are plenty of gems from that year worth investing in.

In this guide we’ll look at the most valuable 1989 Topps baseball cards as well as investment strategies for collecting these rare pieces of sports memorabilia.

So, what is the most valuable baseball card from 1989? It all depends on your specific goals with regard to collecting – whether you’re looking for short-term investments or long-term returns – but no matter how you approach it one thing is certain:

If you want an impressive collection then these 30 must-have picks should be among your top contenders:

  • Ken Griffey Jr. Upper Deck Rookie Card
  • Randy Johnson Rookie Card
  • Gary Sheffield Rookie Card
  • Craig Biggio Rookie Card
  • John Smoltz Rookie Card

The most valuable cards will vary based on condition, print errors, and more, but the above examples represent some of the most sought-after and prized cards from 1989. By picking up these rookie cards while still affordable, you could see big returns down the road.

Key Takeaways

  • Ken Griffey Jr.’s Upper Deck Rookie Card is the most valuable baseball card from 1989, potentially worth thousands in high-grade condition.
  • Other valuable rookie cards from 1989 include those of Randy Johnson, Gary Sheffield, Craig Biggio, and John Smoltz.
  • Tiffany versions of the Randy Johnson and John Smoltz rookie cards are also considered valuable.
  • Collectors should consider card grading and condition as crucial factors to maximize the value of their baseball card investments.

Most Valuable Baseball Card From 1989

Most Valuable Baseball Card From 1989
You can snag the coveted Ken Griffey Jr. Upper Deck rookie card from 1989 if you’re willing to shell out thousands for a high-grade copy. This card epitomizes the nostalgia of late ’80s and early ’90s baseball cards. While Topps had numerous memorable cards in 1989 like Randy Johnson’s rookie and veterans Nolan Ryan and Mike Schmidt, nothing compares to the significance of Junior’s Upper Deck rookie.

It’s the premier card from the junk wax era that collectors still covet over 30 years later. Even in lower grades, Griffey’s ’89 Upper Deck commands more than any other card that year. The card combines Griffey’s early superstardom with premium card stock and quality photos that collectors craved.

It defined Upper Deck’s revolutionary inaugural set while launching Griffey’s Hall of Fame career. For those seeking the most important baseball card from 1989, Griffey’s rookie reigns supreme.

Top Valuable Baseball Cards From 1989

Top Valuable Baseball Cards From 1989
Searching for the most valuable baseball cards from the 1989 year? You need to start with Ken Griffey Jr.’s Upper Deck rookie card, which in pristine condition can fetch almost eight thousand dollars. Then there are the Tiffany versions of Randy Johnson and John Smoltz rookie cards, plus the error card of Billy Ripken and Gary Sheffield’s upside-down card – all worth a few hundred dollars or more if graded flawlessly.

Other key cards from ’89 include the Bo Jackson football-baseball combo card and the Curt Schilling and Craig Biggio rookies. While not as pricey as the Griffey, these cards in mint condition can still command over $100 each.

Don’t forget Nolan Ryan’s first Upper Deck card and the rookie cards of Hall of Famers Roberto Alomar and Edgar Martinez when assembling the cream of the crop from 1989 baseball cards.

Ken Griffey Jr. Upper Deck Rookie Card

Bud, the nearly $8,000 1989 Ken Griffey Jr. Upper Deck rookie card shines as the highest priced gem from that nostalgic baseball card year. When in pristine condition, this rare Upper Deck card soars above all other rookie offerings.

Seeking fortune, collectors chase the iconic Griffey card. A PSA 10 commands big money. Stunning investment potential exists in this baseball jewel. Griffey’s Cooperstown credentials fuel demand.

Topps Tiffany Randy Johnson Rookie Card

The Tiffany version of Randy Johnson’s ’89 Topps rookie card is praised by collectors for its rarity and worth about $1,500 in pristine condition.

  1. Limited supply boosts value.
  2. High demand from investors and collectors seeking HOF rookie cards drives up prices.
  3. Iconic design showcases early talent of 10x All-Star Big Unit player.

This scarce, high-grade Tiffany Johnson commands premium value, making it a prized pickup for savvy buyers in the vintage baseball card market.

Fleer Billy Ripken Error Card

Billy Ripken’s 1989 Fleer error card with the infamous obscenity on the bat knob can fetch up to $1,000 for versions with the whiteout! This infamous error card put a dark twist on the wholesome hobby of collecting baseball cards.

Though controversial, error cards have fascinated collectors for decades. The rarity and intrigue around Ripken’s unintentional F-Face bat have made it one of the most legendary and valuable error cards of all time.

With mint condition versions still fetching over $1,000, this taboo novelty has left a permanent mark on the hobby’s history.

The risqué Ripken error card, though unintentional, embodies the rebellious spirit coveted by collectors. Error cards allow fans to own a unique piece of history. This bat blunder transformed Ripken’s humble 1989 Fleer card into a highly sought-after grail for enthusiasts.

Over 30 years later, the lore of this R-rated Ripken remains strong in the collecting community.

Topps Tiffany John Smoltz Rookie Card

You’d treasure John Smoltz’s 1989 Topps Tiffany rookie card, now worth around $500 if it’s a PSA 10. The signature red and white Tiffany design makes this card iconic for collectors. The limited print run and Smoltz’s Hall of Fame career drive up demand. Grading services like PSA and Beckett Authentication rate condition, impacting value.

Despite overproduction in 1989, Tiffany and rookie cards hold worth. Baseball card trends point to continued gains for gems like Smoltz’s prized rookie.

Gary Sheffield SS Upside Down Rookie Card

Hey friend, imagine ripping that pack and spotting Gary’s old SS card upside down – it could be your $400 payday in mint condition. This rare variation has piqued collectors’ interest for its novelty and investment potential.

With Sheffield’s Hall of Fame resume, this unique ’89 card should maintain value.

Investment Grade Estimated Raw Value Estimated PSA 10 Value
Near Mint/Mint $75 – $150 $300 – $400
Excellent/Good $25 – $50 $100 – $200
Poor/Fair Under $10 Under $50

Though plentiful, ’89 Topps issues like this quirky Sheffield deliver affordable upside for savvy collectors.

Investment Strategy for 1989 Baseball Cards

Investment Strategy for 1989 Baseball Cards
When it comes to investing in 1989 baseball cards, you’ll want to tailor your strategy based on the timeline. For short-term buys of a year or less, aim for high-grade rookies and Hall of Famers that you can flip for quick profit.

For medium-term holds of 1-5 years, target iconic cards of legendary players such as Griffey and Ripken that should steadily appreciate over time. For long-term investments of 5 years plus, can’t-miss Hall of Famers including Griffey and Johnson are your best bet for maximizing value down the road.

Short-Term Investments (1 Year or Less)

You can’t go wrong grabbing Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders rookies for quick flips.

  1. Graded PSA 10 Bo Jackson – $65
  2. Raw Bo Jackson – $20
  3. PSA 10 Deion Sanders – $65
  4. Raw Deion Sanders – $15
  5. PSA 10 Griffey RC – $275

Targeting their rookies in gem mint condition provides the quickest and highest speculative returns. Monitoring overall market trends in the short term is key. Capitalizing on undervalued cards of future Hall of Famers before widespread investor interest takes hold allows for the best opportunities.

Medium-Term Investments (1 to 5 Years)

Consider holding legendary Hall of Famers’ cards like Griffey, Johnson, and Smoltz for 1-5 years to maximize their medium-term value. The nostalgia factor and emerging baseball card markets make their rookie and early cards attractive medium-term investments.

Card grading and condition greatly impact value. Target PSA 10 gem mint cards, like Griffey and Johnson’s iconic 1989 rookies. Capitalize on increasing demand for 1980s rookie stars in this passionate collecting niche.

Long-Term Investments (5 Years Plus)

Beyond just medium-term holds, the wisest long-term investment you’ll make is stashing those iconic Griffey, Johnson, and Smoltz rookie cards for the future Hall of Famers they’ll forever be. Griffey’s Hall of Fame career cements his rookie card’s vintage nostalgia and long-term value.

Johnson and Smoltz boast investment potential thanks to their 1989 Topps trends and eventual plaques in Cooperstown. These legends’ early cards will only appreciate as 1989 Topps establishes its place in collecting history.

Other Valuable Baseball Cards From 1989

Other Valuable Baseball Cards From 1989
Greetings, baseball card collector! In addition to Ken Griffey Jr.’s iconic 1989 Upper Deck rookie card, other valuable Topps cards from 1989 include Nolan Ryan, Cal Ripken Jr., Mike Schmidt, Rickey Henderson, Jim Abbott’s rookie card, Greg Maddux, John Smoltz as a rookie, Mark McGwire, Gary Sheffield’s first card, and Craig Biggio’s Topps debut card.

When going through baseball card collections from 1989, keep an eye out for those valuable cards.

Topps Nolan Ryan

Try collecting the 1989 Topps Nolan Ryan card. That iconic #34 card picturing The Ryan Express in an Angels uniform is a hot commodity worth approximately $100 in PSA 10 condition. The Nolan Ryan card captures the fireballer’s legendary 27-year MLB career. His 5,714 strikeouts and seven no-hitters make Ryan a must-have for collectors.

As the Ryan Express chugs into the Hall of Fame, demand for his vintage cards steadily climbs.

Topps Cal Ripken Jr

You’ve got Cal Ripken Jr.’s iconic 1989 Topps card worth around seventy dollars in gem mint condition. The Iron Man’s steadfast presence lifted this card’s value, though it remains moderately rare despite the high print run.

A staple for serious collectors, prices for this Cooperstown relic have steadily risen. Secure this card of the legendary Oriole before costs escalate further, as the long-term outlook is very bright.

This staple of baseball card collecting is a must-have for diehard fans and shrewd investors alike.

Topps Mike Schmidt

You really scored big in 1989 when you got your hands on that prized Topps Mike Schmidt card. Valued at around $65 in PSA 10 condition, this card connects you to the legacy of one of baseball’s living legends.

That 1989 Topps Mike Schmidt showcases the power-hitting Philadelphia Phillies third baseman during his final season, making it a must-have for collectors seeking the best cards from the era. Owning Schmidt’s 1989 Topps cements your status as a discerning collector always hungry for top cards.

Topps Rickey Henderson

You’d treasure owning Rickey Henderson’s coveted 1989 Topps card. Rickey Henderson’s Topps card is more than just cardboard with his photo. It evokes nostalgia for one of baseball’s greatest players. The Rickey Henderson Topps card conjures memories of his speed and power, especially in pristine condition.

This cherished memento exhibits exceptional value and fervent competition among collectors to acquire such prestige. The Rickey Henderson Topps card remains renowned as an iconic baseball card from 1989.

Collectors vie intensely to obtain this prestigious slice of the past. In mint condition, this beloved relic from the past showcases remarkable worth.

Topps Jim Abbott Rookie Card

The unforgettable 1989 Topps Jim Abbott rookie card is a gem worth acquiring for your prized collection. This single card encapsulates the story of Abbott’s groundbreaking MLB career as a one-handed pitcher.

Though not the most valuable, it remains in demand among collectors thanks to Jim’s inspirational tale. His cards attract interest from a niche market, making the ’89 Topps rookie a special find.

Topps Greg Maddux

A pristine Greg Maddux 1989 Topps rookie ranks among the more coveted cards from that year, fetching up to $45 in perfect condition. With Maddux’s Hall of Fame career and 300 wins milestone, his rookie offers long-term investment appeal.

Grading can maximize value, compelling investment at around $450 for a PSA 10. Topps’ Maddux rookie remains coveted among 1989 issues for the masterful career that followed.

Topps John Smoltz Rookie Card

Got John Smoltz’s 1989 Topps Tiffany rookie in gem mint shape? That’ll fetch at least five hundred dollars. Smoltz’s rookie holds value due to his Hall of Fame career. The Tiffany version is more scarce than the base Topps.

A PSA 10 grade commands a significant premium. Smoltz’s rookie, especially the Tiffany, is a coveted card for investors and Braves fans alike.

Topps Mark McGwire

You’re looking at McGwire’s 1989 Topps for around forty dollars in a PSA 10. The Bash Brother’s rookie year card is a must-have for A’s fans. Mark’s rookie holds appeal despite limited Hall of Fame chances. Still, his 500 home runs make McGwire a 1989 treasure.

Target raw copies to grade up yourself. Aim high on condition when buying Mark’s iconic Topps rookie. McGwire’s card sits behind Junior’s iconic 1989 issues. But Mark’s cardboard holds allure as an investment or PC addition.

Topps Gary Sheffield Rookie Card

Gary Sheffield’s iconic 1989 Topps rookie card, featuring him holding his bat upside down, is well-remembered by collectors. For example, a collector managed to acquire a PSA 10 mint condition version, which sold for over $400 at auction.

Sheffield enjoyed a successful 22-season MLB career amassing 509 home runs. His prized Topps rookie remains highly sought-after in today’s collectible card market, with gem mint copies being especially valuable.

The Sheffield rookie exemplifies the memorable baseball cards and players from 1989.

Topps Craig Biggio

Card lovers should check out Craig Biggio’s rookie card from this classic ’89 Topps set, since it’s emerging as a sleeper pick for shrewd collectors who recognize his Hall of Fame career.

  1. The card features Biggio in an Astros uniform as a young second baseman.
  2. Biggio played his entire 20-year career with the Astros, making seven All-Star teams.
  3. His 3,060 career hits and 414 stolen bases cement his Cooperstown legacy.
  4. A PSA 10 graded Biggio rookie can sell for over $150 now and should continue appreciating.

The 1989 Topps Biggio rookie card offers collectors a chance to own an early card of the scrappy Astros legend before prices climb higher. Targeting Biggio makes sense for those building a vintage Hall of Fame baseball card portfolio.


The 1989 Ken Griffey Jr. Upper Deck rookie card is the most valuable baseball card from 1989, with pristine versions commanding almost $8,000. Investing in a PSA 10 graded Randy Johnson 1989 Topps Tiffany rookie card is another great option, with prices reaching up to $1,500.

The Fleer Billy Ripken error card is also highly sought after, with its whiteout versions selling for as much as $1,000.

Collectors can also look to the Topps Tiffany John Smoltz rookie card, the Gary Sheffield SS upside down rookie card, or any of the other valuable cards from 1989 Topps to get a great return on investment.

Whether you’re looking to own a piece of history or make an investment, 1989 Topps baseball cards are a great option.

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Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is an author and software engineer from the United States, I and a group of experts made this blog with the aim of answering all the unanswered questions to help as many people as possible.