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.
A few days ago, I posted a picture of one of my most prized baseball cards, the 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey rookie card. But that’s not the only thing I purchased with my Christmas money…
In those stacks, I have:
- 13 non-Reds Chris Sabo cards
- 64 Shawon Dunston cards
- 92 Cincinnati Reds cards
- 7 Doug Dascenzo cards
- 2 Kurt Stillwell cards
- 3 Dick Perez art cards (2 Canadian Greats and 1 Diamond King)
The Sabo, Dunston, Dascenzo, and Stillwell cards will all be displayed at some point on All-American Baseball Cards, which has not been updated since June (but that will change!). The Reds cards will be tucked away in my binders.
I have expressed on many occasions my deep admiration for Dick Perez, especially for his work on the Donruss Diamond Kings baseball cards. He was an inspiration to me as a young person, even though I did not follow the path of art past high school. I still enjoy looking back at the Diamond Kings, especially those produced from 1982 through 1990.
“Wait a minute, dude…Dick Perez wasn’t an athlete!” No, but he was a sports artist. The mastermind behind the Donruss Diamond Kings artwork from 1982-1996, Perez influenced me to become a sports artist. I never actually became one, because my skills are nowhere near that of a professional, but that didn’t stop me from dreaming.
Now that I finally have all my Reds cards in binders, I want to focus on obtaining more Diamond Kings. I believe I have the complete series from 1988-1991, but I am seriously lacking in the early years and the later years. I also want to collect the “Gallery of Stars” cards from 1992 and 1993 Triple Play, as well as the special “Canadian Great” cards that were issued in Leaf sets from 1985-1988. I have compiled a master checklist of these cards, and over the next few weeks will be crossing off the ones I have. So if you have some DK’s collecting dust in your 5,000-count boxes and you want to find them a good home, I’d be more than happy to provide that.
Diamond Kings were the thing that set Donruss apart from Fleer and Topps. Beautifully painted artwork, shrunk down to collectible size, they were always the highlight of the wax pack for me. Nothing thrilled me more than pulling a DK from a pack.
A couple of quick notes…I am not interested in getting every version of the DK’s (i.e. the Trammel/Trammell variations, or the colored/non-colored banners of the Eric Davis variety). Just one of each will do. And I intend to sort the 1982-1990 cards by team, not by year. 1991 and beyond, I have not decided for sure how I will handle those. But 1982-1990 would fit in a 9-pocket binder perfectly, and there is a certain continuity with the large portrait and small action sketch in the corner. Perez departed from that formula in 1991.
Perhaps, if I am able to complete the earlier sets, I may start another blog dedicated just to Diamond Kings. I realize the later sets will be a bit more difficult to complete, as they became more limited. But for those first 10 years, they were readily available and should be littering nickel and dime boxes and cards shops and shows all over the country. I don’t expect it will be too difficult to get 1982-1987 complete…heck, there were even fewer teams in the majors back then!
Wish me luck…and if you’re not already familiar with Dick Perez, visit his website and click through some of his online galleries of Diamond Kings, Turkey Reds, Hall of Fame postcards and more. If you like what you see, like his work on Facebook.
Better yet, my birthday is coming in a few months…
But the man inspired me to go out and buy some paint and canvas earlier tonight. Here is a work in progress, a painting of Cesar Geronimo. I will post updates as I feel like it. I need to go back out and try to find some skin-tone color (what I thought would work, did not). Read the rest of this entry
Cooperstown honors baseball players, umpires, managers, broadcasters, writers, etc. Why not an artist? Dick Perez was the artist of the Donruss Diamond Kings from 1982-1997, and they were consistently my favorite cards of any set each year. I had dreams of growing up to be an artist like Perez, working for a baseball card company and producing “art cards” for them. Unfortunately, as with most of my dreams, I gave up on that a long time ago. Read the rest of this entry