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Ranking Donruss in The 80’s

Updated: Dec 4, 2023

In my last article, I reviewed and ranked the 1980’s Topps sets. This month, we’re going to stick with the 80’s but change companies and go with the Donruss Baseball designs. Donruss debuted in 1981, so we will have 9 sets to take a look at. In this time period, we see Donruss debut hobby staples like “Diamond Kings” and “Rated Rookie” cards, which we still see in use today, which is pretty amazing. So let’s take a look at these sets and see how Donruss did entering the market and competing with Topps! Here we go with my rankings, worst to best:

1988 Donruss. This may be the set that was produced more than any other from the decade, because you still see these everywhere. That is unfortunate, because I am not a fan of the blue color with the secondary red and black colors on these cards. This design was not my cup of tea. Grade: D

1989 Donruss. ‘89 Donruss looks a little bit better than the ‘88 set with the black side borders, but the different top/bottom colors seem inconsistent, and may have worked better if they matched the player’s team colors. I do like some of the photos chosen for this set, but still not the biggest fan. Grade: D+

1986 Donruss. While I do like the border color and layout of this year better than the last two we looked at, I still am not sure if this border is blue or purple? What do you think? The black lines give it a consistent look and I like the prominent logo/Rated Rookie stamp spot. Overall, a solid, but average design. Grade: C

1985 Donruss. I like the Black borders in 1985, but they did it better in a future year (coming up). This a very “80’s look” with the red at the bottom of the cards, but not being alive back then, I find it a little weird so that’s why it’s lower on the list. The awesome rookie crop in 1985 does give us some really iconic cards though. Grade: C+

1984 Donruss. This is a set we’ve seen return in recent Donruss sets, so that can have an impact on my feelings, but I like the design and think it’s pretty solid. I enjoy the layout even though it is pretty basic. The wavy lines at the bottom including the team name is very subtle and keeps the focus on the picture in the card, so it works really well. Grade: B-

1983 Donruss. This is another set that is a basic card design, but I like the glove and bat as a follow up to the 1982 design which we will see soon. Clean looking and it just screams, “Hi, I am a baseball card,” and that is what this is all about, right? I’m a fan. Grade: B

1981 Donruss. Who doesn’t love the original set? The paper thin stock, the very unique and impressive looking card back, I really do enjoy the look. I think this was a great start for Donruss as they entered the market. I wish I could go back in time to see collectors’ reactions when they hit the market. Grade: B

1987 Donruss. This is the set that outdid the 1985 black borders. I like the photos better in this set and the borders look better with the baseball design on the side. The secondary colors of yellow and copper were an improved choice and gave 1987 Donruss an iconic look to this day. Grade: B+

1982 Donruss. The second year effort of Donruss nailed it. Like I mentioned with the 1983 set, it is a basic look, but the highlighter yellow “‘82” and the bat and ball logo on the bottom, give 1982 a great looking set of baseball cards. My personal favorite set from Donruss in the 1980’s. Grade: A-

Something to mention about the 1982-1989 sets, Donruss did a good job with these card backs. Giving them a consistent look along with providing a lot of information about the players.

Do you agree? I want to know what you guys think. Let me know in the comments or hit me up on my socials and give me your thoughts on 1980’s Donruss!

One quick note before we go because I am excited about it, we finally got a new WWE set! 2023 Panini Select Asia. These come with red wave parallels, blue wave parallels to /99 and Gold wave parallels to /10. The new parallels look really good, so check some of these out if you’re a WWE collector like me. If Select Hobby is a little too expensive for you, this is a better priced product. Enjoy your riiips!

Thank you all for reading! Peace out!


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