I'm still going through the cards that I received months ago from ARPSmith's Sports Obsession. I'm in the middle of filing a batch of 1982 Donruss and I've enjoyed recalling one of the unique aspects of the set.
There are eight individual cards of coaches in the '82 Donruss set.
This seems completely bizarre from the viewpoint of the modern card set, but take it from me, it wasn't exactly normal finding these old dudes in our packs of 1982 Donruss when the stuff was on store shelves.
I didn't have much of an issue with the cards. They seemed kind of cool actually. The coaches I pulled were Vada Pinson, Johnny Podres and Tommy Davis. I knew those guys. Two of them were former Dodgers. And since they had retired several years prior, this was my first chance to own picture cards of those guys. The 1982 Donruss card of Johnny Podres dressed as a Minnesota Twin was my first Johnny Podres card.
Donruss chose the coaches wisely. The majority of them had been stars in the major leagues during their playing careers. It would have been a feat to pull any one of the above coaches when they were players.
That's how you know Donruss didn't select just any coach for the set. There is no coach card of Alex Monchak or Monty Basgall or Peanuts Lowery -- all coaches during the 1981 MLB season.
The card backs underline the reasoning for selecting these coaches. The writeups are all about how great the coaches were as players and the backs include lifetime playing stats.
Of the eight coaches in the set, I have all of them except for Harvey Haddix, another fine player in his day.
Those are the others.
The exception to the '82 Donruss rule -- pick only past MLB stars -- is the Cal Ripken Sr. card (what I believe is the "rookie card" for the career minor league player).
I'm not sure why Ripken Sr. was added with the others as Donruss could have selected another former star for a coach card (how great would it have been to see Bob Gibson, a coach for the Mets in 1981, in a Mets uniform on a card?).
It's possible they were jumping on the Cal Jr. bandwagon by adding his dad into the set. He's certainly not included for his major league playing record.
The coach cards may have seemed a bit out of place in '82 Donruss back then, but looking back on it, it added some character to a rather ho-hum set. This wasn't something anyone was doing. Coaches almost never made card appearances on their own. If they showed up at all, they were attached to a manager card, likely as a floating head.
I would love to see coach cards in a mainstream product again.
I know it will never happen -- you're more likely to see a pre-pre-pre-pre-pre-pre-pre-rookie prospect card of some 7-year-old in a future set than a card of a coach.
That's too bad, because as I've mentioned many times before, I collect cards to enjoy all aspects of the game, not just certain star players or rookies. I want to see it all represented.
Topps could even make a coaches insert set and I'd be interested. Don't short-print that thing though.