One of the most interesting things about the 1994 Upper Deck baseball cards is that they came so close to never existing.
At the time, Upper Deck was working to position its "Collector's Choice" brand as its flagship offering, while moving to retire the "Upper Deck Baseball" line altogether.
And the company also planned to use the 1994 Upper Deck Baseball design for its 1994 SP super premium set.
In short: many things had to fall into place for this set before it even reached production...
And, today, we can look back on this set and be grateful that Upper Deck has kept it as one of their product offerings.
Because while this set is often overlooked, there are some fantastic cards on your checklist.
And, in this guide, we'll look at the twenty most valuable ones.
Let's jump right in!
Ross Uitts - Owner
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Let's be clear:most of the cards in this set are currently worthless.
like the1994 Donruss, Fleer andToppssets, large print runs saturated the market with these cards, driving down their values.
So, for the cards on this list to be worth a lot, they will have to be PSA graded to be in mint condition.
This means that the card needs to be flawless.
Now that we've got that out of the way, let's take a look at the list:
1994 Upper Deck #MMAU Mickey Mantle Auto
Estimated worth of PSA 9 Mint: $55,000
When the 1994 Series One Upper Deck baseball cards hit store shelves, collectors frantically searched pack after pack for one of 3,000 randomly inserted cards that featured Mickey Mantle and Ken Griffey Jr.
Each player signed 1,000 cards with their individual autograph, but the real gem everyone was looking for was one of the 1,000 examples both legends signed.
Mickey Mantle died on August 13, 1995, but he had long since established himself as one of the greatest midfielders of all time when he signed these cards.
And Ken Griffey Jr. he was in his early twenties and beginning his rise to his prime as a midfield superstar in his own right.
Having both on the same card, side by side, with this type of artwork already made for a great collectible.
But with their signatures added to the mix, the hobby welcomed one of the truly unforgettable and most coveted autographed cards of the 1990s.
Goldin Auctions sold an example of this card in a PSA 9 holder for just over $55,000 in August 2021 to give you an idea of how much collectors value this card.
1994 Upper Deck #MMAU Mickey Mantle Auto
Estimated value of PSA 10 Gem Mint: $4,000
Those who weren't lucky enough to pick up one of the dual signed copies of a retail package could still receive a nice consolation prize in the form of the card where only Mick signed.
His autograph evolved over time from the early days of his career into the style you see here, where the "M's" are ballooned and almost look like crescent moons.
This style is arguably what most collectors are familiar with, as Mantle adopted it later in life, especially when he signed so often at hobby shows and events elsewhere in the country.
1994 Upper Deck #KGAU Ken Griffey Jr.
Estimated value of PSA 10 Gem Mint: $2,000
Of the three versions of this card, the "least" desirable is the one where Ken Griffey Jr. individually signed.
Still, any collector would love to own one, as Ken Griffey Jr. is at the top of the list of the greatest centre-backs of all time alongside Mantle.
1994 Upper Deck #19 Michael Jordan Rookie Card (Electric Diamond)
Estimated value of PSA 10 Gem Mint: $1,000
When Michael Jordan decided to take a break from basketball right after winning three consecutive NBA titles to try his hand at professional baseball, the Upper Deck wasted no time in capitalizing on the hype.
The company quickly included it in its "Star Rookies" subset and the hobby loved it.
Collectors could hardly believe their eyes when they saw Jordan on this card chasing a fly ball in a Chicago White Sox uniform.
And they could find this card in one of two forms, the standard base version and the "Electric Diamond" parallel.
Each pack of cards contained an Electric Diamond side card within it, so they aren't necessarily scarce by any means.
But, they are "rare" enough to command a price premium over the regular base version and remain one of theJordan's Most Valuable Baseball Cards.
1994 Upper Deck #A298 Alex Rodriguez Auto
Estimated value of PSA 10 Gem Mint: $950
In 1993, Alex Rodriguez was playing for Westminster Christian High School in Miami, Florida, which went on to be the number one high school team in the country.
In April of that year, the Upper Deck sponsored a tournament at Cal State Fullerton dubbed the Upper Deck Classic, which featured Westminster Christian and other high school baseball teams.
Upper Deck then produced the five-card "Classic Alumni" subset that featured Rodriguez and four other players who participated in that tournament to commemorate that event.
Of the five players, Rodriguez was the only one who also signed a limited number of his cards which were then distributed in Series Two retail packs.
No one knows how many signed it, but collectors are certainly more than willing to pay for the autographed version.
1994 Upper Deck # 224 Ken Griffey Jr. (Electric Diamond)
Estimated value of PSA 10 Gem Mint: $750
Since the introduction of Ken Griffey Jr. in the Hall of Fame in 2016 and the resurgence of interest in this hobby, cards from him have increased in popularity.
After all, he was arguably the sport's biggest star at the height of the hobby's hysteria during the late '80s and early '90s.
And today, the young collectors of that era who grew up idolizing "The Kid" are now nostalgic adults returning to the hobby in a big way, driving up prices on high-quality copies of his cards.
The image on his 1994 Upper Deck card is absolutely incredible when Jr. bounces close to the outfield wall to make an excellent catch.
As good as he was with the bat, many forget that he was just as lethal with the glove and his ten Gold Glove awards are more than enough proof.
1994 Upper Deck #19 Michael Jordan Rookie Card
Estimated value of PSA 10 Gem Mint: $700
Jordan never came close to matching the success he had with the Chicago Bulls while trying to move up through the White Sox organization.
But, when you look back, it's amazing that he managed what he did during that short hiatus from basketball.
And, becauseWhohe is and his status as one of the greatest sporting and cultural icons in American history, his rookie card is the most desirable in this set.
As you can see, whether you are considering the Electric Diamond version or not, your newbie can cost you quite a bit.
1994 Upper Deck #24 Alex Rodriguez Rookie Card (Electric Diamond)
Estimated value of PSA 10 Gem Mint: $600
Had Alex Rodriguez's legacy not been tarnished by his ties to PEDs, the price of this card on a PSA 10 holder would easily run into the thousands of dollars.
With a World Series ring, three MVP Awards, ten Silver Sluggers, two Gold Gloves, fourteen All-Star selections, four Hank Aaron Awards, 696 home runs, 2,086 RBI and 3,115 hits, no one disputes that he was one of the greatest players in history. history.
But everyone must ask themselves how much of their production came because of the PED boost.
In 2009, A-Rod admitted to steroid use during his time with the Texas Rangers from 2001 to 2003.
Then, he later became embroiled in the Biogenesis PED scandal during his time with the New York Yankees which kept him off the field for the entire 2014 season.
Rodriguez is one of many players from that era whose legacies will long remain under the shadow of PED use.
But he and Barry Bonds are arguably the two biggest players whose reputations have suffered the most.
Your rookie card, especially the parallel Electric Diamond, can still be worth several hundred dollars under the best terms, despite all the controversies.
1994 Upper Deck # 550 Derek Jeter (Electric Diamond)
Estimated value of PSA 10 Gem Mint: $400
The one Derek Jeter card that stands above the rest in this hobby ishis 1993 SP rookie cardwhich, in the current market, sold for as much as $480,000 in 2021 on a PSA 10 support.
I remember when this card, rated PSA 10, was selling for around $30,000 over the last ten years.
Man, how times have changed in this hobby...
Anyway, even though this card isn't officially considered a rookie card, it's still a Derek Jeter key card to own.
The "Top Prospects" subset consisted of 28 young prospects and many of them had fantastic careers.
Some of the more prominent names in the subset include Johnny Damon, Jason Giambi, Derrek Lee, Billy Wagner and, of course, Derek Jeter.
1994 Upper Deck #A298 Alex Rodriguez (Electric Diamond)
Estimated value of PSA 10 Gem Mint: $350
While the autographed version of this card is obviously the one on everyone's radar, the Electric Diamond version without A-Rod's signature is also a good one to have in your collection.
The regular basic example of this card in a PSA 10 holder usually retails in the $50-$60 range to give you an idea of the premium the Electric Diamond stamp carries, in this case.
1994 Upper Deck # 224 Ken Griffey Jr.
Estimated value of PSA 10 Gem Mint: $200
Many correctly point to market saturation due to overproduction by card manufacturers as the main cause of the hobby bubble bursting in the early 1990s.
But, the 1994 MLB mid-season strike also played a key role as it left a bad taste among baseball fans and baseball card collectors alike.
And many forget how incredibly Griffey Jr. was performing before the league closed.
In just 111 games and 433 hits, he batted . 328 with an AL-leading 40 home runs with 90 RBI and 94 runs scored.
To say he was tearing coverage off the ball would be an understatement, as his . 674 slugging percentage and 1.076 OPS marked career highs.
1994 Upper Deck #24 Alex Rodriguez Rookie Card
Estimated value of PSA 10 Gem Mint: $175
Given the career numbers the A-Rod has had, it's disappointing that this card isn't worth more than around a few hundred dollars in PSA 10 condition.
But again, these numbers will forever remain under a shroud of doubt, due to their ties to PEDs.
Regardless, this card is still one of the most notable hobbyist newbie cards produced in the early 1990's.
1994 Upper Deck # 53 Ken Griffey Jr. (Electric Diamond)
Estimated value of PSA 10 Gem Mint: $150
Cards numbered 41 to 55 in the Serie One packs comprised a subset called "The future is now" celebrated some of the league's younger players who were already performing at a high level.
Some of the players, like Ken Griffey Jr., Frank Thomas, Mike Piazza and Mike Mussina, ended up being Hall of Famers.
And others, like Gary Sheffield, Juan Gonzalez and John Olerud, also became fantastic baseball players.
But, needless to say, Griffey is the biggest name in the subset.
The reverse of the card mentions Griffey's incredible home run hitting ability and some of the impressive totals he achieved at that point.
With 45 dingers during the 1993 season, Griffey's career home run total was 132 for the 1994 season.
And the reverse of the card also highlights that only Eddie Mathews and Mel Ott had ever hit more home runs before their 24 years than The Kid.
1994 Upper Deck #550 Derek Jeter
Estimated value of PSA 10 Gem Mint: $150
During the 1994 baseball season, Derek Jeter spent his time constantly working at A+ (Tampa), AA (Albany-Colonie), and AAA (Columbus).
Little did the sports world know at the time, Derek Jeter was a future Hall of Famer and a Yankees legend in the making.
Jeter began the 1995 season with AAA Columbus, but when Yankees shortstops Tony Fernandez and Pat Kelly were injured, the team drafted him to his first MLB experience on May 29, 1995.
Backed by Vice President of Scouting Gene Michael and Assistant GM Brian Cashman, Derek Jeter made the 1996 Opening Day roster as the Yankees' starting shortstop, the first of 17 consecutive Opening Days with Jeter scheduled to brief.
However, not everyone, including George Steinbrenner and one of his closest advisers, Clyde King, was convinced that Jeter was ready for the 1996 Opening Day roster.
Steinbrenner was so unconvinced that he nearly pulled the trigger on a trade that would have brought Seattle Mariners shortstop Felix Fermin to New York in exchange for Mariano Rivera.
No offense to Fermin, but this was arguably the biggest trade the New York Yankees ever made.
1994 Upper Deck # 117 Bo Jackson (Electric Diamond)
Estimated value of PSA 10 Gem Mint: $125
When Bo Jackson injured his hip during an early 1991 playoff game against the Cincinnati Bengals, his professional football career came to an end and his professional baseball career hovered in a cloud of doubt.
Although the Kansas City Royals released Jackson a few months later in March 1991, the Chicago White Sox quickly officially welcomed him to Chicago's Southside, signing him to a three-year contract.
During Jackson's three years with the White Sox, he played in just 108 games: 23 during the 1991 season, zero in 1992, and 85 during the 1993 season.
In those 85 games Jackson played in during the 1993 campaign, his production was pretty decent as he hit 16 home runs, drove in 45 RBI and scored another 32 runs.
And he also got his only taste of playoff baseball that year, when the White Sox went six games to the Toronto Blue Jays in the 1993 ALCS.
But, after his contract with the White Sox ended, he signed with the California Angels at the start of the 1994 season.
And that's where Jackson's professional baseball career came to an end.
After the strike ended the season prematurely, Jackson decided to retire at the age of 32, stating that he wanted to focus and spend more time with his family.
1994 Upper Deck #300 Frank Thomas (Electric Diamond)
Estimated value of PSA 10 Gem Mint: $125
As impressive as Ken Griffey Jr. was playing before the attack, Frank Thomas was playing even better.
And this is not a criticism of Big Hurt as we all know he was an amazing player and especially in the early 90's.
When the season ended, Thomas' stat line looked like something out of a video game as he slashed . 353/. 487/.
His tallies for OPS, OBP, runs scored, and walks were the best in the MLB, while his slugging percentage led the American League.
Thomas' output that year was genuinely inspiring, as his OBP, slugging percentage, and OPS were some of the highest single-season totals by any player in history.
So as good as Griffey was that year, Thomas was even better, and he deservedly took home the AL MVP as a result.
1994 Upper Deck # 524 Billy Wagner Rookie Card (Electric Diamond)
Estimated value of PSA 10 Gem Mint: $100
If I were to bet on whether Billy Wagner finally gets the call to Cooperstown, I think he'll end up inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Of all pitchers with at least 800 innings pitched under their belts, Wagner's K/9 ratio is the highest, 11.9/9.
The guy could throw some big heat.
That's one reason he also boasts a career ERA of 2.31 and a WHIP of . 998 while giving up just six hits in nine innings.
And after his sixteen seasons pitching at the highest level, he appeared in seven All-Star Games and finished with 422 saves, good enough for sixth on the all-time leaderboards and just two short of John Franco. in fifth place.
Either way, his postseason struggles are probably the only thing that can keep him from a Hall of Fame induction.
Regardless, there is no doubt that Wagner was one of the greatest finishers in the history of the game.
Like the man himself, his rookie card from this set is often overlooked and underappreciated.
1994 Upper Deck # 292 Ken Griffey Jr. (Electric Diamond)
Estimated value of PSA 10 Gem Mint: $85
If you don't already know, Ken Griffey Jr. is still as popular in this hobby as he was during his playing days, as his "Home Field Advantage" card also makes the roster.
This subset consisted of 28 cards that featured fourteen American League players and fourteen National League players.
Each player was the biggest name in the franchise at the time and had an excellent description about each team on the back of the cards.
Griffey's card shows him chasing a fly ball in the outfield, showing what an excellent glove he had.
In fact, his center field play during the 1994 season would earn him his fifth straight Gold Glove.
1994 Upper Deck #425 Cal Ripken Jr. (Electric Diamond)
Estimated value of PSA 10 Gem Mint: $65
Cal Ripken Jr.'s 1994 season was one of the most productive of his career at base when measured per hit, as the season itself was disrupted by offense.
Over the 112 games he played in, Ripken saw 444 hits with which he was able to hit 13 home runs, drive in 75 RBI and score 71 runs.
Much of this was due to his .315/.364/.459 line cut and .823 OPS, all of which were among the highest of his Hall of Fame career.
For his efforts, Ripken made his twelfth consecutive All-Star Game, taking home a Silver Slugger and finishing twelfth in MVP voting as well.
The action on his 1994 Upper Deck card is superb, as collectors are treated to a heartwarming image of Ripken trying to turn a double play while a Red Sox opponent vehemently tries to break it up.
After resting a little longer because of the shortened season, Ripken would be back on the field in 1995 for the world to see him break Lou Gehrig's back-to-back game streak.
1994 Upper Deck #290 Don Mattingly (Electric Diamond)
Estimated value of PSA 10 Gem Mint: $50
Several cards could go into this slot on the list that sell for $50 in PSA 10 brackets, but I decided to go with Mattingly as it hadn't yet appeared on the list.
During the 1980s, Mattingly was considered one of baseball's greatest superstars and offensive powerhouses, due to his high level of production.
His 1984-1987 stint was particularly memorable, as he won an MVP, three Silver Sluggers, and a hitting title while appearing in four All-Star Games, leading the league in hits twice, doubles twice, RBI once, and bases. totals twice.
And he was also incredible on defense during that period, as he picked up three of his nine career Golden Gloves.
At the time, Mattingly appeared to be on a surefire trajectory for the Hall of Fame.
But unfortunately, persistent injuries cropped up for him during the 1990s, and while his defense was as solid as ever, his base production dropped considerably.
The 1995 season would be Mattingly's last in the MLB as a player, as the Yankees brought in Tino Martinez from the Mariners in 1996 to be their full-time first baseman.
1994 Upper Deck Baseball Cards Under Review
As you can see, the range of card values in this set is pretty drastic.
On this list, the figure ranges from $50 for Mattingly's card in a PSA 10 bracket to over $50,000 for Mickey Mantle and Ken Griffey Jr's dual signature card. on a PSA 9 stand.
This huge range of values speaks volumes for the range of things this set offers collectors.
The images on the cards are fantastic, the Jordan and A-Rod rookies are great, the Jeter prospectus card is a must have and the many different autographs possible left plenty for collectors to enjoy.
The 550-card checklist is also packaged with subsets including:
- Star Rookies (#1 - 30)
- Fantasy Team (#31 - 40)
- The future is now (#41 - 55)
- Home field advantage (#267 - 294)
- Upper Deck Classic Alumni (#295 - 299)
- Diamond Debuts (#511 - 522)
- Top prospects (#523 - 550)
Of all the sets from the early 1990s, this one contains as much variety as any other.
If you're looking for a set with decent rookies, stars and Hall of Famers of the day, and a great selection of different card types, then you can't go wrong with the 1994 Upper Deck Baseball Set.