As part of the celebration of the 70th anniversary of Topps baseball cards, we've asked fans (as well as our staff) to submit their all-time favorite baseball cards, and we've broken them down by team. We'll be revealing submissions regularly throughout the season, ranging from the famous to the weird, and everything in between.
Mariners: Ken Griffey Jr., Kevin Mitchell and Jay Buhner, 1993 Upper Deck
Wow. How cool is this card?
Any card with Griffey on it is cool by default, but this “Pacific Sock Exchange” card by Upper Deck is next level, adding Mitchell and Buhner to the mix. Most baseball fans will remember Buhner because he hit 307 home runs for the Mariners over 14 seasons, whereas Mitchell only played in 99 games for Seattle in 1992, just before this card was issued. Mitchell was, however, a well-known slugger, as evidenced by his 1989 National League MVP Award with the Giants.
Mitchell may not have been a Mariner for long, but this card is still a reminder of the heart of the Seattle order that year, and that’s not even to mention Hall of Famer Edgar Martinez, who led the Majors by hitting .343 in 1992 and was just coming into his own as a great hitter.
This trio is the epitome of cool, posing across the lake from downtown Seattle with Buhner blowing a bubble with his gum and the three wearing those classic Mariners uniforms with the block lettering across the front.
Jeff T. of Round Rock, Texas, submitted this card, calling it “iconic" and one he vividly remembers pulling from a pack as a kid. You usually don’t think of a card featuring a guy who played for a team in only 99 games as “iconic,” but honestly, it’s hard to argue in this case. -- Manny Randhawa
Iconic Mariners card: Ken Griffey Jr., 1989 Upper Deck
This isn’t just one of the most iconic Mariners cards. Card No. 1 in the very first Upper Deck set, Griffey's 1989 rookie card is one of the most recognizable in the history of the hobby, showing “The Kid” with his hair sticking out from beneath his Mariners cap and flashing a toothy smile, looking every bit like the teenager he was.
It was submitted by a large number of fans, including Rex Crum, K.D. Tustin, Dwayne Kistner, Andrew Goss, Scott K. and Robert Pitts Jr.
“My all-time, desert-island favorite baseball card is, without a doubt, the Ken Griffey Jr. 1989 Upper Deck rookie card,” wrote Goss. “I remember hearing at my local card shop that there was going to be a brand new, super high-gloss card line entering the market, which was to be the 1989 Upper Deck cards. I saved up lawn-mowing money for weeks and went and bought as many packs as I could, opening them furiously as soon as I got home. Much to my delight, I found a Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card in the third or fourth pack I opened!
“Better yet, although it always seemed that you got the most forgettable players back-to-back in packs, I got his rookie card, back-to-back! And while I had the good sense to immediately put them into screw-together glass cases, I did not have the sense to keep both; I traded one away that summer. He quickly became one of my all-time favorite players, with the sweetest swing I have ever seen, and I will never forget the feeling of opening that pack and seeing his glowing smile, twice in a row!”
After appearing in Upper Deck's inaugural set -- as card No. 1 in the set, no less -- Griffey made the Mariners out of Spring Training and went on to become one of the game's biggest superstars with Seattle in the 1990s. Meanwhile, his 1989 Upper Deck rookie card would help define an era of sports card collecting. -- Thomas Harrigan