Skip to main content

Cardboard appreciation: 1981 Donruss Best Hitters

(After eight straight days of work that included an energy-sapping switch to Daylight Savings Time, I FINALLY HAVE A DAY OFF! Now, if you don't know what I'm appreciating, then there is no hope for you. Time for Cardboard Appreciation. This is the 56th in a series):

I didn't have much respect for Donruss in the early '80s.

That's a lousy thing to say, but put yourself in my shoes, circa 1981. One spring day, we went to the corner market, looked to our left where the gum and candy was, and saw these wax packages sharing rack time with Topps. One said "Fleer" and the other said "Donruss."

This was before you could find baseball card news whenever you wanted. We knew nothing about Fleer's successful court win against Topps or that it allowed other companies to create cards. All we knew was that these other cards magically appeared with our familiar Topps.

We decided to test them out. The Fleer cards looked bare bones compared with Topps. But they were acceptable. I had a vague recollection of hearing about Fleer cards of the past. That made them legitimate in my eyes.

But Donruss? For one, we had never heard of this Don-russ dude. Secondly, the cards were printed on index-card like stock. They were the flimsiest cards we had ever seen. Third, blurry photos infested the set, and 90 percent of the pictures appeared to be taken in front of the ivy in Wrigley Field. Finally, there were typos and factual errors everywhere.

Donruss was a pretender. I looked at them as pretenders until it produced the 1984 set, which I like a whole lot to this day.

However, the '81 Donruss set, as well as the '81 Fleer set, had something that I had never seen before.

They brought back the "combo card," as we would call them these days.

Those who collected cards in the '60s knew all about the cards that would pair up two or more teammates or all-stars from separate teams. But by the 1970s, when I started collecting, those cards were gone.

So the concept behind the '81 Brett-Carew card was new to me. And I liked it a lot. Brett and Carew were the biggest stars of the day. Thirty years later, I look at it and I can tell they committed some photo magic as Brett and Carew seem to have been pasted together from two (or even three) different photos.

Also it's about the worst caption for a card ever. "Best Hitters"? Why not call it "Two Dudes"?

But the card remains my favorite from the 1981 Donruss set. Even if I could practically fold it into a paper airplane.


madding said…
Nice... I'd never seen this card before, and I bought a few packs of '81 Donruss back in the day. It was actually somewhat affordable even for a kid, probably due to its overall crappiness.
zman40 said…
I thought about getting that card signed by George at Fanfest. Then I decided against it. Since it was so hard to get George's signature, I didn't even want to worry about Rod's.
It's not a lousy thing to say at all. I didn't have respect for Donruss throughout the whole 80s. And I didn't really care for Fleer too much, either.
Anonymous said…
Donruss will always have a special place in my heart for one reason: Diamond Kings. Fleer? Well... ahhh... Yeah, not so much.

Popular posts from this blog

A friend indeed

This week has been the kind of week that only late January could produce.

Nothing particularly wrong or terrible happened. Mostly what I felt this week was a sense of spinning my wheels, of working hard without result (or with other people screwing it up), of trying to get things accomplished (while battling a sinus infection) only to have a car noise or a phone call knock me back to square one.

That feeling transferred over to the blog where I probably spent too much time uploading too many photos and conducting too much research and expecting too much in return.

But all of this is a phase. It's the January malaise. I'll snap out of it. It could be worse. I could be dealing with three feet of snow right now instead of the melting three inches that is out there.

And I could be struggling through this week without an envelope in the mail from "A Friend".

That's right, "A Friend".

That's how the return address appeared on the envelope. Just above th…

Degrees of doneness

I just wrapped up my first notable card purchase of 2020.

It was an online order -- from three of every collector's favorite card-buying sites -- and with the exception of three inserts from 2019 and a stray card from 1989, every single card I ordered was made prior to 1980.

That feels good. That feels tremendously good.

I'm starting off 2020 in the right frame of mind.

It's also a good way to put a cork in the 2019 collecting season. There are various ways you can say you're done with the cards from the previous year, call it degrees of doneness, if you will (I order steaks "medium" or "medium well," I don't need anything crawling off my plate).

1. You can be done with collecting sets from 2019. I'm certainly done with that. I didn't try to collect many sets from that year anyway. The 2019 Topps Holiday set and a third of the 2019 Topps Archives set are finished and that's everything I plan to do.

2. You can be done with buying pac…

The lone Ranger

Who is Nick Solak?

Glad you asked.

And thanks to cynicalbuddha for scanning his card into Trading Card Database.

Nick Solak is a former Yankees, former Rays prospect who appeared in 33 games for the Texas Rangers last year.

That, apparently, qualifies him for being the only Texas Ranger to appear in the 350-card base set for 2020 Topps Series 1, a checklist of which was released this morning.

That's right, the ONLY Texas Ranger.

I did the count and the Rangers, with Solak shouldering the entire load, come up a distant 30th behind the 29th-place Orioles, who have a more typical seven cards.

Here is the breakdown by team that I compiled earlier:

Dodgers - 17
Astros - 17
Nationals - 16
Cubs - 15
Athletics - 14
Brewers - 14
Indians - 14
White Sox - 14
Phillies - 13
Angels - 12
Blue Jays - 12
Braves - 12
Padres - 12
Red Sox - 12
Reds - 12
Twins - 12
Yankees - 12
Cardinals - 11
Giants - 11
Marlins - 11
Mets - 11
Diamondbacks - 10
Mariners - 10
Rays - 10
Tigers - 10
Royals - 9
Pirates -…