$100 Seattle Mariners Baseball Card Starter Kit – One-Sheet Collections

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For many, nostalgia remains the driving force behind baseball card collecting, and that’s how I arrived at the idea of One-Sheet Collections.

It’s a simple concept with infinite possibilities.

Take a single nine-pocket sheet and a reasonable $100 budget, and build a nine-card collection with a unifying theme.

We’re working on a new team-specific theme to the One-Sheet Collections series. We’ve already covered the Arizona Diamondbacks, Tampa Bay Rays, Colorado Rockies, Miami Marlins and Toronto Blue Jays, and now it’s on to the Seattle Mariners as we work our way chronologically through MLB franchise history.

The Mariners’ inaugural season came in 1977 when they were one of two new teams added to the league along with the Blue Jays. They did not have their first winning season until 1991, and their first postseason appearance came in 1995. They won a record 116 games in 2001, but have not returned to the postseason since.

1985 Fleer #488 Alvin Davis RC ($0.50)

Nicknamed “Mr. Mariner” for his contributions to the fledgling franchise in the 1980s, first baseman Alvin Davis was the team’s first true homegrown star. He was an All-Star and took home AL Rookie of the Year honors in 1984 when he hit .284/.391/.497 with 27 home runs and 116 RBI, and he tallied 160 home runs, 683 RBI and 20.1 WAR in eight seasons in Seattle.

His Rookie Cards are found in the 1985 Donruss, Fleer and Topps sets, and all three can be picked up for just a couple bucks.

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1988 Fleer #378 Edgar Martinez RC ($12)

Signed out of Puerto Rico for just $4,000 in 1982 while he was playing for a semi-pro team and working in a factory, Edgar Martinez would go on to have a Hall of Fame career spent entirely in a Mariners uniform. He was a two-time AL batting title winner, seven-time All-Star, and hit .312/.418/.515 with 2,247 hits, 309 home runs and 1,261 RBI in 18 seasons.

After a 13-game cup-of-coffee as a September call-up in 1987, his only Rookie Card was featured in the 1988 Fleer set. It is far and away the most valuable card in the mass-produced 660-card set.

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1989 Scoremasters #30 Ken Griffey Jr. ($20)

Baseball in Seattle changed forever when high school outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. was selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1987 draft. He made his MLB debut on Opening Day in 1989 at the age of 19, and two years later he helped lead the Mariners to the franchise’s first playoff appearance.

Griffey went on to become the face of baseball in the 1990s, slugging 398 home runs and piling up 70.7 WAR in 11 seasons before he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds. He would return in 2009 and play out the final two seasons of his career in Seattle.

The hype that surrounded his debut meant there was no shortage of Griffey cards scattered across 1989 products. One of the more attractive options outside of the mainstream releases was his inclusion in the 1989 Scoremasters boxed set.

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1994 Collector’s Choice #647 Alex Rodriguez RC ($12)

Not since…well, Ken Griffey Jr…had a prospect entered the league with as much hype as Alex Rodriguez. The No. 1 overall pick in the 1993 draft, he made his MLB debut the following year just before his 19th birthday. Two years later, he hit .358/.414/.631 with 54 doubles, 36 home runs and 123 RBI to take home the AL batting title in his age-20 campaign.

Rodriguez would go on to post a staggering 38.1 WAR in just 790 games in Seattle before he departed in free agency and signed a record-breaking deal with the Texas Rangers prior to the 2001 season.

Rodriguez has six different Rookie Cards in 1994 products, and while it’s the least valuable of the bunch, his 1994 Collector’s Choice card is a great bang-for-your-buck pickup.

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1996 Select En Fuego #19 Randy Johnson ($6)

The Mariners acquired a young left-hander named Randy Johnson from the Expos in exchange for Mark Langston on May 25, 1989. It took time for him to get a handle on his power stuff and he led the AL in walks in each of his first three full seasons in Seattle. But he eventually developed into one of the best pitchers in MLB history.

Johnson won his first Cy Young in 1995. He went 130-74 with a 3.42 ERA and 2,162 strikeouts in 1,838.1 innings before he was traded to Houston at the 1998 deadline.

Since his Rookie Cards show him in an Expos uniform, I’ve opted instead for one of the many great-looking 1990s inserts he has available.

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1998 Pacific Invincible Team Checklists #26 ($20)

The offensive core of Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez, Edgar Martinez and Jay Buhner were among the most productive in baseball during the brief stretch when all four played together. With Randy Johnson anchoring the starting rotation it’s hard to believe the Mariners were not perennial World Series contenders.

That fivesome of Seattle stars was featured together on the Seattle team checklist insert in the 1998 Pacific Invincible set. With a 30-card checklist and a 2:37 pack pull rate, the inserts were a fairly tough hit and their value has held up well as a result.

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2001 Upper Deck MVP #60 Ichiro Suzuki RC ($15)

The first Japanese-born position player ever to play in the majors, Ichiro Suzuki helped pave the way for a generation of players to make the leap stateside. He already had 1,278 hits in nine seasons in Japan before he made his MLB debut at the age of 27. He won the AL MVP and Rookie of the Year awards while leading the Mariners to a 116-win season in 2001. From there, he would become one of the faces of baseball during the 2000s.

He has 49 different Rookie Cards at a wide variety of price points. Ichiro’s 2001 Upper Deck MVP RC is a great bargain buy.

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2004 Topps Traded #T144 Felix Hernandez RC ($8)

Considering Randy Johnson, Jamie Moyer and Freddy Garcia were all acquired in trades, it’s fair to call Felix Hernandez the greatest homegrown pitcher in Mariners history. “King Felix” spent 15 seasons in Seattle, going 169-136 with a 3.42 ERA and 2,524 strikeouts in 2,729.2 innings. He won AL Cy Young in 2010 and finished runner-up in the balloting two other times.

He has eight different Rookie Cards and they are all bargains relative to what he meant during his time with the team.

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2019 Topps Heritage Minors #121 Julio Rodriguez  ($5)

The future is now for the Mariners as they push toward a long-awaited playoff berth with 21-year-old rookie Julio Rodriguez leading the way with a dynamic mix of power, speed and swagger.

His early cards are among the hottest in the hobby right now, but his first Topps release in the 2019 Topps Heritage Minors set is a nice low-cost option that has room to grow in the coming years if he continues on his current trajectory.

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Total: $98.50