I confined most of my binging to 1989 Topps and ignored quite a few brands that were everywhere at the time.
One of those ignored brands was Donruss. By the time the late '80s arrived, I had restricted myself to Topps -- because I didn't have time for anything else. College was in full swing and after that I was trying to carve out a career.
Donruss was easy to ignore because I rarely took it seriously. To my way of thinking then, Donruss cards were for little kids, meant to be thrown in the toy box at the end of the day.
In recent years, I've come to appreciate certain Donruss sets from that period. It's nothing for me to go down to the dollar store and grab some '88 or '89 Donruss for a little pick-me-up. And when you do buy those packs, you get the inevitable puzzle pieces.
As I've said before, I didn't know what to do with puzzle pieces back then. Gum you chew, stickers you stick, puzzle pieces ... just sit there, unless you have another piece that fits.
So, I never accumulated enough puzzle pieces to put together a full puzzle. A couple of years ago, someone sent me all the pieces to the 1984 Donruss Duke Snider puzzle, and that's the only one I've completed.
But in the meantime, I've gathered up a bunch of random puzzle pieces in a box, through my scattershot purchasing of Donruss junk wax packs. And I thought it'd be fun to see how close I am at completing any of the puzzles.
Here is the list of Donruss puzzles (for the main set anyway, I'm not counting the various other Donruss puzzles):
1982: Babe Ruth
1983: Ty Cobb
1984: Duke Snider
1985: Lou Gehrig
1986: Hank Aaron
1987: Roberto Clemente
1988: Stan Musial
1989: Warren Spahn
1990: Carl Yastrzemski
1991: Willie Stargell
1992: Rod Carew
I'm skipping 1982-85 Donruss as I don't have random pieces from those sets (I'm quite sure that in 1982 I instantly threw those Ruth pieces away).
So I'll start with 1986:
I haven't purchased a single pack of 1986 Donruss in my life. I'm fairly certain that in 1986 I didn't know whether Donruss still existed or not. And then by the time I figured out that they were still around, I was horrified by the '86 Donruss design.
So, it's easy to understand I have just one Hank Aaron puzzle piece. Is there anything more useless than one puzzle piece?
On to 1987.
That is one colorful puzzle. Like '86, I haven't purchased any 1987 Donruss. The only '87 Donruss that I own has come my way through trades or repacks.
Just two Clemente puzzle pieces, from opposite ends of the puzzle. (You'll have to forgive the glare in these photos -- I took them on a gloomy day and the flash is reflecting off the table finish).
I'll have more success with 1988.
I've opened more 1988 Donruss than any other Donruss set. I'm sure if I live to be 175 years old I still will be able to open 1988 Donruss packs. It's a good thing I like the look of the set.
Nine puzzle pieces (I misplaced mini-Stan on this scan). That's half the puzzle. That's both pretty good and kind of sad. Clearly I haven't bought enough 1988 Donruss.
Off to 1989.
It seems like Warren Spahn puzzle pieces are more plentiful than any others. They seem to just materialize in my collection out of nothing. Let's see if that is just an impression or the real deal.
Not quite as many as the Musial puzzle, but still decent progress. I'm sure all I have to do is lift up a couch cushion and I'll find some more.
1990 is the year that I returned to buying Donruss in packs. It didn't last long because I didn't like the red speckled borders, and because of that I don't have many Yaz puzzle pieces.
I've got the bottom half of the puzzle on the wrong side.
Let's go to 1991.
I've actually felt sympathy for Willie Stargell because he was included in the 1991 Donruss set. That's a terrible fate. But on the good side, I'll bet more Stargell puzzles have been completed than any other Donruss puzzle. Whatever the record is for the set with the most packs opened, 1991 Donruss has to be in there somewhere.
I just can't pull the face card, can I? I might as well toss these pieces, the chances of me ever opening another 1991 Donruss pack are very slim.
Last puzzle set:
I bought quite a bit of 1992 Donruss -- regrettably -- but was able to turn up just one puzzle piece. I'm not sure whether I tossed them or if puzzle pieces weren't in every pack in '92 (this was the year that Donruss tried to "grow up" and modernize itself).
That's a piece from the top corner of the puzzle.
So, there you are.
Evidence that I haven't bought enough junk wax.
It's not a sad moment for me. I have no desire to go out and buy the rest of the pieces or even the whole puzzle. I'm not much into wall displays -- and the displays I have involve actual cards, either uncut sheets or a collection of cards in a framed format.
I guess I look at puzzles the way I did when I was pulling them from packs.
I shrug and move on to the cards.