20 Most Valuable 1994 Upper Deck Baseball Cards
One of the most interesting things about 1994 Upper Deck baseball cards is that they came so close to never existing at all.
At the time, Upper Deck was working to position its "Collector's Choice" brand as its primary offering while it moved to retire the "Upper Deck Baseball" line altogether.
And, the company had also been planning to use the 1994 Upper Deck Baseball design for its super-premium 1994 SP set.
Long story short: many things had to fall into place for this set before it even made it to production...
And, today, we can look back on this set and be thankful that Upper Deck kept it as one of its product offerings.
Because, while this set is often overlooked, there are some fantastic cards within its checklist.
And, in this guide, we'll take a look at the twenty most valuable.
Let's jump right in!
Let's be clear: most of the cards from this set do not have any value these days.
So, for the cards on this list to be worth much, they'll have to be graded by PSA to be in perfect, gem mint condition.
That means the card needs to be flawless.
Now that we got that out of the way, let's take a look at the list:
1994 Upper Deck #MMAU Mickey Mantle Auto
Estimated PSA 9 Mint Value: $55,000
When Series One 1994 Upper Deck baseball cards first 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. and one or both of their autographs.
Each player signed 1,000 cards with his individual autograph, but the true gem that everyone was after was one of 1,000 examples where both legends signed.
Mickey Mantle died on August 13, 1995, but had long since established himself as one of the greatest centerfielders of all time when he signed these cards.
And, Ken Griffey Jr. was in his early twenties and beginning the ascension into his prime as a superstar centerfielder in his own right.
Having them both on the same card, side-by-side, with this kind 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 highly 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 just how much collectors cherish this card.
1994 Upper Deck #MMAU Mickey Mantle Auto
Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $4,000
Those who weren't lucky enough to pull one of the dual-signed examples from a retail pack were still able to receive a nice consolation prize in the form of the card where only the 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 balooned 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 was signing so often at hobby shows and events elsewhere around the country.
1994 Upper Deck #KGAU Ken Griffey Jr. Auto
Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $2,000
Of the three versions of this card, the "least" desirable is the one where Ken Griffey Jr. signed individually.
Still, any collector would love to have one as Ken Griffey Jr. is right up there on the list of greatest centerfielders of all time along side Mantle.
1994 Upper Deck #19 Michael Jordan Rookie Card (Electric Diamond)
Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $1,000
When Michael Jordan decided to take a break from basketball right after winning three NBA titles in a row to try his hand at professional baseball, Upper Deck wasted no time in capitalizing on the hype.
The company quickly included him in their "Star Rookies" subset and the hobby loved it.
Collectors could barely believe their eyes when they saw Jordan on this card chasing down 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 one Electric Diamond parallel 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 Jordan's most valuable baseball cards.
1994 Upper Deck #A298 Alex Rodriguez Auto
Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $950
In 1993, Alex Rodriguez was playing for Westminster Christian High School in Miami, FL, which happened to be the number one high school team in the nation.
In April that year, Upper Deck sponsored a tournament at Cal State Fullerton dubbed the Upper Deck Classic that showcased Westminster Christian and other top 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 that were then distributed in Series Two retail packs.
It's anyone's guess as to how many signed, but collectors are certainly more than willing to pay for the autographed version.
1994 Upper Deck #224 Ken Griffey Jr. (Electric Diamond)
Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $750
Since Ken Griffey Jr.'s induction into the Hall of Fame in 2016 and the resurgence of interest in this hobby, his cards have increased in popularity.
After all, he was arguably the sport's biggest star right at the height of the hobby hysteria during the late 80s and early 90s.
And today, young collectors of that era who grew up idolizing "The Kid" are now grown-ups full of nostalgia returning in a big way to the hobby, pushing up prices for high-grade examples of his cards.
The imagery on his 1994 Upper Deck card is absolutely incredible as Jr. leaps near the outfield wall to make an outstanding catch.
For as good as he was with the bat, many forget 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 PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $700
Jordan never came close to matching the success he had with the Chicago Bulls while attempting to work his way up in the White Sox organization.
But, when you look back, it's incredible that he was able to accomplish what he did during that short hiatus from basketball.
And, because of who he is and his status as one of the biggest sports and cultural icons in American history, his rookie card is the most desirable in this set.
As you can see, whether you're considering the Electric Diamond version or not, his rookie can cost quite a lot in high grade.
1994 Upper Deck #24 Alex Rodriguez Rookie Card (Electric Diamond)
Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $600
Had Alex Rodriguez's legacy not become tarnished by his ties to PEDs, the price of this card in a PSA 10 holder would easily be 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 questions that he was one of the greatest players in history.
But, everyone has to wonder just how much of his 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 entangled in the Biogenesis PED scandal during his time with the New York Yankees that ultimately kept him off the field for the entire 2014 season.
Rodriguez is one of many players of that era whose legacies will long remain under the shadow of PED use.
But, he and Barry Bonds are arguably the two greatest players whose reputations have suffered the most.
His rookie card, especially the Electric Diamond parallel, can still fetch several hundred dollars in top condition despite all of the controversies.
1994 Upper Deck #550 Derek Jeter (Electric Diamond)
Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $400
The one Derek Jeter card that stands above the rest in this hobby is his 1993 SP rookie card which, in today's market, has sold for as much as $480,000 in 2021 in a PSA 10 holder.
I remember when that card, graded PSA 10, was selling for $30,000 or so within the last ten years.
Man, how times have changed in this hobby...
Anyway, while this card isn't officially considered a rookie card, it's still a key early Derek Jeter card to own.
The "Top Prospects" subset consisted of 28 young, up-and-comers and many of them turned out to have 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 PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $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 nice one to have in your collection.
The regular base example of this card in a PSA 10 holder usually sells 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 PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $200
Many correctly point to market saturation due to over-production from card manufacturers as the primary cause for the hobby bubble burst of the early 1990s.
But, the strike during the middle of the 1994 MLB season 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 shut down.
In only 111 games and 433 at-bats, he batted .328 with an AL-leading 40 home runs, with 90 RBI and 94 runs scored.
To say he was tearing the cover off the ball would be an understatement, as his slugging percentage of .674 and OPS of 1.076 both marked career highs.
1994 Upper Deck #24 Alex Rodriguez Rookie Card
Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $175
Given the career numbers that A-Rod had, it's disappointing that this card isn't worth more than around a couple hundred dollars in PSA 10 condition.
But, again, those numbers will forever remain under a shroud of doubt given his ties to PEDs.
Regardless, this card is still one of the most notable rookie cards in the hobby produced during the early 1990s.
1994 Upper Deck #53 Ken Griffey Jr. (Electric Diamond)
Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $150
Cards numbered #41 - 55 in Series One packs comprised a subset called "The Future Is Now" celebrated some of the youngest players in the league who were already performing at a high level.
Some of the players, like Ken Griffey Jr., Frank Thomas, Mike Piazza, and Mike Mussina, turned out to be Hall of Famers.
And others, like Gary Sheffield, Juan Gonzalez, and John Olerud, turned out to be fantastic baseball players as well.
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 eye-popping totals he'd put up at that point.
With 45 dingers during the 1993 season, Griffey's career home run total rested at 132 entering 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 24th birthdays than The Kid.
1994 Upper Deck #550 Derek Jeter
Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $150
During the 1994 baseball season, Derek Jeter spent his time steadily working his way up through 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 Yankee legend in the making.
Jeter began the 1995 season with AAA Columbus, but when Yankees shortstops Tony Fernandez and Pat Kelly fell to injury, the team called him up for his first crack at MLB experience on May 29, 1995.
Supported by VP 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-straight Opening Days with Jeter penciled in at short.
However, not everyone, including George Steinbrenner and one of his closest advisors, Clyde King, was convinced that Jeter was ready for the Opening Day roster in 1996.
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 that was arguably the greatest trade the New York Yankees never made.
1994 Upper Deck #117 Bo Jackson (Electric Diamond)
Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $125
When Bo Jackson injured his hip during a playoff game in early 1991 against the Cincinnati Bengals, his professional football career came to a sad close, and his professional baseball career hung in a cloud of doubt.
Though the Kansas City Royals released Jackson a couple of months later in March 1991, the Chicago White Sox quickly officially welcomed him to the Southside of Chicago by signing him to a three-year deal.
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 that Jackson played during the 1993 campaign, his production was pretty decent as he belted 16 home runs, drove in 45 RBI, and scored another 32 runs.
And, he even got his only taste of playoff baseball that year, too, when the White Sox went six games against the Toronto Blue Jays in the 1993 ALCS.
But, after his contract with the White Sox ended, he instead signed with the California Angels heading into the 1994 season.
And that's where Jackson's professional baseball career came to a final close.
After the strike ended the season prematurely, Jackson decided to retire at 32 years old, stating that he wanted to focus on and spend more time with his family.
1994 Upper Deck #300 Frank Thomas (Electric Diamond)
Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $125
As impressive as Ken Griffey Jr. was playing before the strike, Frank Thomas was somehow playing even better.
And, that's not a knock on the Big Hurt at all, since we all know he was an incredible player and especially in the early 1990s.
When the season ended, Thomas's stat line read like something out of a videogame as he slashed .353/.487/.729 with an OPS of 1.217 to go along with 38 home runs, 101 RBI, 106 runs scored, and 109 walks.
His tallies for OPS, OBP, runs scored, and walks were tops in MLB, while his slugging percentage led the American League.
Thomas's production that year was genuinely awe-inspiring as his OBP, slugging percentage, and OPS were some of the highest totals in a single season by any player in history.
So, as good as Griffey was that year, Thomas was even better, and he deservingly took home the AL MVP as a result.
1994 Upper Deck #524 Billy Wagner Rookie Card (Electric Diamond)
Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $100
If I were to bet on whether Billy Wagner eventually gets the call to Cooperstown, I'd guess he will ultimately get into the Hall of Fame.
Of all pitchers with at least 800 innings pitched on their resumes, Wagner's K/9 ratio is the highest at 11.9/9.
The guy could throw some major heat.
That's one of the reasons he also sports a career 2.31 ERA and a 0.998 WHIP while giving up only six hits per 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 place on the all-time leaderboard and just two less than John Franco in fifth place.
If anything, his postseason struggles are probably the one thing that may prevent him from a Hall of Fame induction.
Regardless, there's no questioning that Wagner was one of the greatest closers in the game's history.
Like the man himself, his rookie card from this set is often overlooked and under-appreciated.
1994 Upper Deck #292 Ken Griffey Jr. (Electric Diamond)
Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $85
If you can't tell by now, Ken Griffey Jr. is still just as popular in this hobby as he was during his playing days, as his "Home Field Advantage" card also makes the list.
This subset consisted of 28 cards that featured fourteen players from the American League and fourteen players from the National League.
Each player was the franchise's biggest name at the time and contained an excellent write-up about each team on the reverse sides of the cards.
Griffey's card shows him chasing down a fly ball in the outfield, showcasing the excellent glove that he had.
In fact, his play in center field during the 1994 season would earn him his fifth-straight Gold Glove.
1994 Upper Deck #425 Cal Ripken Jr. (Electric Diamond)
Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $65
Cal Ripken Jr.'s 1994 season was one of the more productive of his career at the plate when measuring on a per-at-bat basis, given the season itself was cut short by the strike.
Over the 112 games he played, Ripken saw 444 at-bats with which he was able to hit 13 home runs, drive in 75 RBI, and score 71 runs.
Much of that was due to his .315/.364/.459 slash line and .823 OPS, all of which were among the highest of his Hall of Fame career.
For his efforts, Ripken made his twelfth-straight All-Star Game while taking home a Silver Slugger and finishing twelfth in the MVP vote as well.
The action on his 1994 Upper Deck card is outstanding, as collectors are gifted an exciting image of Ripken trying to turn a double play while a Red Sox opponent tries vehemently to break it up.
After resting up a bit more because of the shortened season, Ripken would be back on the field in 1995 for the world to watch him break Lou Gehrig's consecutive games played streak.
1994 Upper Deck #290 Don Mattingly (Electric Diamond)
Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $50
Several cards could go in this slot on the list that sell for $50 in PSA 10 holders, but I decided to go with Mattingly since he hadn't already appeared on the list.
During the 1980s, Mattingly was considered one of the biggest superstars and offensive powerhouses in baseball, given his high production level.
His stretch from 1984 to 1987 was particularly memorable as he won an MVP, three Silver Sluggers, and a batting title while appearing in four All-Star Games, leading the league in hits twice, doubles twice, RBI once, and total bases twice.
And, he was incredible on defense during that span, too, as he picked up three of his nine career Gold Gloves.
At the time, Mattingly seemed like he was on a surefire trajectory to the Hall of Fame.
But, sadly, nagging injuries crept up on him during the 1990s, and while his defense was solid as ever, his production at the plate dropped off considerably.
The 1995 season would be Mattingly's last in MLB as a player when the Yankees brought in Tino Martinez from the Mariners in 1996 to be their full-time first baseman.
1994 Upper Deck Baseball Cards In Review
As you can see, the range in values of the cards in this set is pretty drastic.
On this list, the value goes as low as $50 for Mattingly's card in a PSA 10 holder to over $50,000 for the dual-signed Mickey Mantle and Ken Griffey Jr. card in a PSA 9 holder.
That massive range in value speaks volumes of the variety of things that this set offers to collectors.
The imagery on the cards is fantastic, the Jordan and A-Rod rookies are great, the Jeter prospect card is a must-have, and the several different autographs that are possible left so much for collectors to enjoy.
The 550-card checklist was also packed 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 early 1990s sets, this one packs as much variety as any.
If you're looking for a set with decent rookies, stars and Hall of Famers of the day and a great selection of different kinds of cards, you can't go wrong with the 1994 Upper Deck baseball set.