I have been a fan of Dick Perez as long as I have collected baseball cards. Some of my favorite baseball cards feature his artwork, especially the Donruss Diamond Kings from 1982-1990. When I saw this set sitting on the table at the antique mall, I knew I had to add it to my collection, even though there are no Reds in it at all.
“Hall of Fame Heroes” was released by Donruss in 1983, 44 cards in all. Two Mickey Mantle cards, Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson, Stan Musial, Ted Williams…some of the biggest names in baseball history. My favorites, though, feature Negro League stars. Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson are two of the most popular players that never got the Major League spotlight for their talents in their prime. Paige did pitch in the bigs, but his legendary status was cemented before integration.
Josh Gibson never played in the majors (though the Pirates were rumored to have signed him in 1943). He died in January 1947 after suffering a stroke, and never saw Jackie Robinson break the color line.
Dick Perez’s Diamond Kings and Hall of Fame Heroes will always be my favorite baseball cards featuring artwork.
I love the oddball sets of the 1980s, from the 33-card boxed sets you could find at Kmart, Toys R Us, and just about everywhere else, to the cards you had to cut out from Kraft Macaroni & Cheese boxes. But these cards absolutely drove me insane: the big Donruss All-Star cards from 1983 through 1987. Sure, there were plenty of great players included in these issues, but they were too big for a binder and difficult to store. I still haven’t figured out exactly what to do with them.
The 1983 version was horizontal, such as this Reggie Jackson:
Donruss flipped the card right-side-up in 1984 and kept them that way the rest of the run, as this 1985 Don Mattingly shows:
But they were still too big at 3.5×5. There were also the “pop-up” cards featuring the starters from the game, such as this 1986 Jack Morris:
In 1988, Donruss finally wised up and shrunk the cards back down to regular size and they fit nicely into standard baseball card pages.
I picked up two rack packs of 1983 Donruss last night at the Redsfest for $1 each. I thought surely they were just in the wrong place on the table, but no…$1 each. And with a Reggie Jackson Diamond King showing on top, how could I resist?