Big Pull for Griffey Debut Day

Doing Laundry with The Kid

Date: Apr 3, 2024
Author: Greg Bates, Senior Writer
Topics: 2015 Topps Supreme, Baseball, Cincinnati, Cincinnati Reds, Greg Bates, Griffey Day, How To Collect, Ken Griffey Jr., MLB, Reds
Length: 925 Words
Reading Time: ~5 Minutes

As Chris Bame slowly slid a blank white card, it started to reveal the monster hit that was about to be unveiled to livestream viewers.

Bame, co-owner of Bomber Breaks, knew he was hitting the jackpot with this 2015 Topps Supreme product. He blurted out “Oh my, gosh,” as a laundry tag prominently was showing along with Ken Griffey Jr.’s name.

As the entire card gets fully displayed, Bame can’t believe his eyes. It was a stunning 1-of-1, game-used laundry tag relic from when Griffey played with the Cincinnati Reds.

“I was in so much shock,” Bame said. “I just looked back on the video, and I’m like, ‘Geez, it took me a minute.’ Then I ‘Boomed.’ We’re Bomber Breaks. My uncle’s nickname was Bomber. That’s a big reason why we went with Bomber. But, also, a big card is a ‘Boom.’”

The Russell Athletic tag has the partial wording, “Property of the Cincinnati Reds,” along with instructions on how to wash the uniform piece. What makes the card even more special is Griffey’s beautiful signature.

“The relic is what really makes this card unique,” Bame said. “I have not seen anything close to this. It says, ‘Warm water, gentle cycle, tumble dry. Made in the USA.’ I mean, how cool is that? And then, ‘Property of the Cincinnati Reds.’ You can tell it was cut.”

The Griffey card was pulled in May 2017, two years after the 2015 Topps Supreme product was released. Bame had picked up a case of Supreme, which contained 10 boxes and two cards per box.

“It was the last card in that break,” Bame said. “I saved it, because you could tell the pack was a little thicker. So, a lot of us breakers will wait. ‘Oh, that’s a little thick; a little heavy. Let’s save that one for last.’”

With Griffey’s 35-year anniversary of his first big league game on April 3, 1989, RIPPED wanted to highlight this awesome card.  

Bame Acquires the Card of The Kid

During and after his remarkable 22-year MLB career, Griffey has had so many memorable cards produced. This 2015 Topps Supreme example is beyond exceptional.

Bame — who lives right outside of Cleveland — is a longtime Griffey fan. After the hit, he joked on the livestream with the customer who won the card.

“I said, ‘Dakota, this one’s going to get lost in the mail. I can tell you right now. It’s getting lost in the mail.’ Oh, I love this card,” Bame said. “I couldn’t believe it. I’d never seen anything like that with the big tag and then the ‘Property of the Cincinnati Reds.’ Being a big Reds fan, I was just immediately attached to it.”

The longtime Bomber Breaks customer who had the Reds in the break was a Las Vegas resident. He was all about getting some quick cash, and Bame was interested in owning the Griffey card. The two worked out a deal, and Bame didn’t have to ship out the card.

Ever since he pulled the Griffey card nearly seven years ago, Bame has always wondered which part of the uniform the laundry tag came from. Was it the jersey? Perhaps the pants? Bame took to social media to try and find out collectors’ opinions.

“Some people on the post said they thought it was from the jersey — where you tuck in your jersey in the bottom left section,” Bame said. “But I’ve never really seen anything that says property of the club. But I would assume that is the case from where it was clipped. “We have opened a lot of products over these years, and I have not seen anything at all like that tag with that little piece of the property of a ballclub. I love it.”

Well, the mystery is cracked. According to Topps Relic Department Manager JP Mericle, the laundry patch is from one of Griffey’s jerseys.

Getting Closer to the Game

Back in 2015, Clay Luraschi was Topps’ Director of product development. He remembers how special that Griffey tag was.

“Laundry tags are much rarer than your standard patch card, so it really makes it a true 1-of-1,” said Luraschi, who is now Fanatics Collectibles SVP, Global Product Development.

Topps’ goal with memorabilia cards is to bring the fan/collector closer to the player. Certainly, the Griffey card captures that philosophy.

“This takes it a step further as ‘Property of the Cincinnati Reds’ truly endorses that you personally have something from the team,” Luraschi said.

As any collector can imagine, the process of getting a game-used jersey from an MLB club — especially from a big name such as Griffey — and getting it inserted into a card isn’t easy.

“We either purchase authenticated memorabilia directly from the team or at auction — especially if it’s a retired player or a dated jersey,” said Luraschi. “The memorabilia is cut, processed, and then embedded into the card. The relic sits between a few layers of cardboard, so the card is ‘built’ versus printing the card and just sticking the relic piece directly onto the card. So, there are a couple of extra steps versus traditional card production. If the card needs to be signed on-card, it then goes back out to one of our reps to do a signing session with the player.”

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