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1985 Donruss Baseball

By Patrick Mondout

After the success of the limited-production '84 Donruss set, collectors anticipated the 1985 Donruss set even more than the inaugural 1981 set. Donruss didn't disappoint. Taking a page out of Topps' book, the company produced another in-demand set with black borders - just like the very popular '71 Topps set.

It is likely that they printed more of these cards than in 1984. It's even possible that they printed more than in 1983 - a set that was clearly overproduced. But the number of collectors, dealers and investors was exploding at this point, and it seemed like it was hard to find these cards. Indeed, by the time spring training ended, I could not find packs of these cards at any convenience store in the greater Mesa, Arizona area.1

The black borders obscure the fact that the cards are really quite similar to the previous set. The backs of the cards are virtually identical to the previous set. Topps had always changed the look of its cards - front and back - so collectors were frustrated with Donruss' lack of innovation. In reality, they had a nice design and could justifiably stick with it.

Doctor, doctor!

If you wonder where the "cards printed on the bottom of wax boxes" craze started, look no further. The very first such cards were printed on the bottom of 1985 Donruss baseball cards. They are numbered PC1-PC4 and feature Dwight Gooden, Ryne Sandberg, Ron Kittle, and the Lou Gehrig puzzle. For the first time, we prized the wax boxes almost as much as the cards within them. They were a cool idea at the time (and that's a great picture of Dr. K at Shea), but the practice became more dubious with each passing year and this is the one and only reference to such cards you will read by me.

The Diamond Kings were back for a forth straight year, and Dick Perez continued his streak of not painting the same player twice for the series. This meant, however, that such superstars as Willie Upshaw, Claudell Washington and Bob Brenly were featured.

One of the weakest classes of "Rated Rookies" was featured as well. In fact none of the best rookie cards (Bret Saberhagen, Dwight Gooden, Terry Pendleton, Eric Davis, Orel Hershiser, Jimmy Key or Dwight Gooden) were "rated" (of course most of the players listed were no longer rookies either). Donruss expert Bill Madden (who selected the RR's) whiffed on both league's Rookies of the Year. This at least made the Donruss Highlights set, released later in the year, interesting with the inclusion of Vince Coleman and Ozzie Guillen.

One area that Donruss cut back on was the multiplayer cards. This season the only one created was the Two for the Title card (see below) of teammates Don Mattingly and Dave Winfield, who battled until the final day of the season for the batting crown.2

A checklist for all 660 cards is available here.

1985 Donruss at a Glance
Back Checklist Wax Pack
Two for the Title Rated Rookies Diamond Kings


1. For the purposes of this article, "greater Mesa, Arizona" is defined as the area reachable by me on my bike within one hour of my home near Tri-City Mall.
2. Classless Mattingly fans actually booed future Hall of Famer Winfield on the final day of the season. Winfield went 1-4 and finished at .340. Donnie Baseball went 4-5 and won with a .343 average.



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Year: 1985

Manufacturer: Donruss

# of Cards: 660 (Checklist)

Value/Price: Check eBay (see links below)

Size: 2 x 3

Image courtesy of Donruss

'85 Donruss Sets!
'85 Donruss Singles!
'85 Donruss Unopened Packs!
'85 Donruss Lots!
'85 Donruss Cases!

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