Quick now … picture Ken Griffey, Jr., in his prime …

Did you imagine one of the following …

A hat-backwards Junior, beaming smile brighter than the sunshine?

A lithe Griffey racing disregarding gravity to rob a fellow slugger of a home run?

That iconic, straight-at-the camera shot of Griffey on his 1989 Upper Deck rookie card … the first Upper Deck baseball card ever?

Or maybe The Kid at the plate, his sweet left-handed swing at full extension as he watches the ball he just crushed sailing toward the heavens?

All valid representations of Griffey at his best.

Now, a follow-up …

What uniform was The Natural wearing in your vision of him?

The White Sox’, right?

Well, if so, you are in a very small and likely delusional minority.

Or maybe Griffey was wearing Cincinnati Reds togs in your vision of primetime Junior?

After all, the hometown boy spent the better part of a decade with the Reds, and the deal that brought him back to the Riverfront — where his dad had been part of the Big Red Machine in the 1970s — was one of the biggest moments in Cincy sports in the last thirty years or so.

But even the most diehard Reds fan (like me) will tell you the reunion didn’t work out quite like we had hoped.

No MVPs for Griffey, no big records that fell his way while he toiled in Cincy, no titles for the Reds.

So, even for us, the best of Ken Griffey, Jr., evokes just one uniform (or set of uniforms) — that of the Seattle Mariners.

It was fitting, then, and more than a bit healing, to see Junior finish up his career with the Mariners in 2009 and 2010.

And, as Griffey took his final cuts for the M’s to start the the 2010s, Upper Deck graced hobbyists with one late primetime shot of the future Hall of Famer in their base Series 1 issue, on card #445:

Check prices on eBay (affiliate link)

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Their we see Junior, at full extension, grooving a ball deep one last (cardboard) time.

And wearing the uniform that he could never really shed, even if he wanted to.

Hobby Wow!

That 1989 Upper Deck rookie card of Junior’s will never go out of style, and never will gaudy related eBay lots like this one …

That’s an unopened case of 20 low-number 1989 Upper Deck foil-pack boxes. Yeah, that’s where the Griffey RC lives.

Check out the full listing on eBay right here (affiliate link).

(You might also enjoy our post on the 12 Most Important Ken Griffey Jr. Rookie Cards.)

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