Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Even More of the 1980 Donruss Set that Never Was

All-Stars, Leaders, Traded, World Series and Diamond Kings

Dave Winfield went 1 for 5 with one RBI and a run scored in the 1979 All-Star game. He grounded into a fielder's choice. With Gary Matthews on first and Mike Schmidt on third, Matthews was out at second and Schmidt scored. In his second at bat he doubled to the right field gap. He scored on a Gary Carter single.

Lynn's only at bat was a two-run homer off Steve Carlton scoring Don Baylor. That gave the American league a 3-2 lead in a back and forth game that was decided in the 9th inning. In the top og the 9th, Jim Kern (who was the 1979 Rolaids Relief Man award winner) walked the bases loaded. He was pulled for Ron Guidry who walked in the winning run. The NL won their 8th straight ASG 7-6.

For the 1980 All-Stars I borrowed the look from the 1990 Donruss MVP.  I added All-Star text to the background similar to the MVP. Although the 1990 is much more similar to the base. I ditched one of the banners to give it a cleaner look.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think Donruss ever had League Leader cards.  If they did, they weren't in the familiar Topps format. But for the sake of this imaginary set, I've created just that. I chose to do them in the Topps style from the '70s with a single card with the AL and the NL leader.

I picked this card because the Brothers Niekro actually tied for the most wins in 1979 with 21 wins each. Of course with knuckleballers you take the good with the bad.  Joe also led the league in wild pitches. Phil led the league in homeruns surrendered. In the AL Mike Flanagan had a career high 23 victories.  He also had career highs in shutouts  with 5 and strikeouts with 190. He was the AL Cy Young award winner.

Even though these guys led their respective leagues in homers, neither look too happy here.  Maybe because both of them also led their leagues in strikeouts.  Yup, Dave Kingman smashed 48 dingers and whiffed 131 times. In the AL, Gorman Thomas hit 45 round-trippers but fanned an incredible 175 times.

As for the traded cards, I reversed he players names and team names and tried to create a "traded" icon in the same vein as the "Rated Rookie" icon. A couple of big name trades here. Nolan Ryan was a free agent who signed a 4 year $4.5M with his hometown Astros.  He became the first player to earn more than $1M a year.  The Angels GM, Buzzie Bavasi reportedly commented that Ryan "could easily be replace by two 8-7 pitchers", referring to his 1979 record of 16-14.  

In 1980, Rusty Staub was competing with Warren Cromartie for first base. The Expos ended up dumping him for two nobodies at the end of  spring training. Rusty ended up sharing time as DH, first base and outfield for the Rangers. He hit an even .300 in a somewhat limited role. He was traded to the Mets the following season for the second time.
In some sets, Donruss did include World Series cards. But they weren't quite the same as we were used to with Topps.  They were visually similar to the player's card except with a World Series logo on the front. The back would detail their World Series feats.  I kept mine similar to Topps but included the World series logo.  In this particular card you can see Ed Ott easily tagging out Eddie Murray after a laser throw from Dave Parker.

It wasn't until their second issue in 1982 that Donruss included their Diamond Kings subset. But I've got one for the 1980 set. While Donruss relied on Dick Perez for their art, I tried to use photo effects to recreate the style.  Here is "Stretch" McCovey on a 1980 style Diamond Kings card.

As usual, I am taking request for cards based on this design. So if there are any players or even subsets you'd like to see in a future post, leave a comment.

Friday, June 12, 2020

More of the 1980 Donruss Set that Never Was

Rookies, Team Cards, Managers, and Award Winners

"Super" Joe Charboneau was the beer-drinking, softball-playing Rookie of the Year for the Cleveland Indians in 1980. His career was cut short by an injury sustained the following strike-shortened season. In 1980 he played 131 games and hit .289 with 23 homers and 87 RBIs. He only played 70 more games in his career (1981 & 82). He batted .211 with 6 homers and 27 RBIs. 

Steve Howe was the 1980 Rookie of the Year and an All Star Reliever in 1982. But he was plagued by substance abuse. He was suspended 7 times for drug policy violations, including the entire 1984 season. He was given a "Lifetime Ban" in 1992 which was overturned on appeal. He died in 2006 when he crashed his car. There was methamphetamine in hes system. 

As for the design, I used just base cards with the Rated Rookies logo that we came to recognize on Donruss cards.  Donruss didn't begin making "Rated Rookie" cards until the 1984 set.  Even then it wasn't the iconic logo that I am using on this imaginary set.  In 1984 it was a banner that was similar to the team name design that year.

For the team cards, I didn't stray far from the base. Simply went horizontal and dropped one of the pennants.

In 1980 the Angels were coming off a year in which the won the AL West division. It was their first post season appearance in team history. Although the loss of Nolan Ryan had to hurt, falling to 6th place 30 games under .500? 

The 1980 Braves were in their 3rd season under Booby Cox. After two last place finishes, the 1980 Braves would end the season one game over .500 and finish 4th. It wouldn't be enough to save him. By the end of 1981 Cox would be gone. He would, of course, return in 1990 for 21 more years managing the Braves.

Speaking of managers.  Donruss tended to just put managers on base cards.  I went a different way because I think the coaches can be interesting, too.

Particularly on this Mariners card.  Darrell Johnson was the manager of the 1975 Pennant winning Red Sox. He was named first manager of the expansion Mariners. But his coaching staff! Hall of Fame second baseman Bill Mazeroski.  All-Star shortstop, 1962 MVP, perennial stolen base leader and future  Mariners skipper, Maury Wills. The speedy All-Star outfielder Vada Pinson and veteran pitching coach of the Swingin' A's, Wes Stock.

The 1980 Expos also had ties to the Swingin' A's with Dick Williams at the helm. Their coaching staff included future Expos manager Felipe Alou. Norm Sherry was a coach under Williams for the Angels in 1976 and took over as manager after Williams was fired. Galen Cisco was a veteran pitcher and pitching coach. Ozzie Virgil Sr. broke the color barrier as a player for the 1958 Detroit Tigers. He went 5 for 5 in his first home game for the Tigers.

One of the things that Donruss did right from the start was make Award Winner cards. In my last post you can see the 1981 Brett MVP card and the 1981 Carlton Cy Young card.  So in this imaginary set from 1980, I included a card of the NL Co-MVPs from 1979, Keith Hernandez and Willie Stargell.

As usual, I am taking request for cards based on this design. So if there are any players or even subsets you'd like to see in a future post, leave a comment.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

The 1980 Donruss Set That Never Was

We all know that Topps monopoly on baseball cards was broken up by a court ruling in 1980. In 1981 we had Fleer and Donruss cards as well as Topps.  In anticipation of the ruling Donruss created these 1980 prototypes.  These can still be found. A quick look at COMC.com shows this panel currently selling for $855.28. (not sure what the 28 cents is for, postage?)

The panel included Reggie Jackson, George Brett and a blank template.  I wasn't the first and I probably won't be the last to use this template for card creations. I made a card of Dan Quisenberry back in 2014 using this design. I've also seen a few other custom cards using this format on the interwebs.
Elements of this design made it into the 1981 Donruss set. Here is a Cy Young Card of Steve Carlton.  You can see the similarities in the banner design.
You can also see the similarities in the banner design of the 1980 Topps cards. If this had been released in 1980, I could see Topps taking issue with the design.
The photos they used also made it into the 1981 set. A cropped version of the Reggie photo made it onto one of his three base cards. 
Donruss even had a bit of revisionist history in regards to the 1980 set. In 2002 they came out with a 1980 "What if?" set including this Reggie Jackson card. It didn't resemble the 1980 prototype at all. 
The Brett photo found its way onto two cards in 1981, his base card and his MVP card.
A cropped version of the same photo can be seen here on an advertisement for the new 1981 Donruss cards.

Okay, that's enough for the baseball card history segment of this post.  The reason I am posting this in the first place is to make these prototypes into a complete set.  

I'm going to follow my normal template of making base cards of the eventual season MVPs and Cy Young award winner.  Then in subsequent posts, I'll fill in the various other elements that make a complete baseball card set.

In the AL, George Brett won the MVP in 1980. That card has already been made for us.  In the NL it was another big hitting third baseman and future Hall of Famer, Mike Schmidt.  You can see my adaptation of the prototype's design.

The Cy Young Award winners were Steve Stone and Steve Carlton. For Carlton this was his 3rd of 4 Cy Youngs. His 24 wins helped the Phillies to their first ever World Series Championship. He was also 3-0 in four post season starts.  Steve Stone was having a career year in Baltimore. He had a 25 wins. That was a full ten wins more than his previous high of 15 with the 1977 Southside Hitmen. He also had a career high of 149 strikeouts. Tendinitis in his shoulder dropped his numbers to 4-7 in just 15 games in 1981. He retired at 34. 

For Donruss, the first few years the set was, well, basic. They didn't have designated rookie cards, or team cards, or leader cards, or all-stars, or post season cards. You get the idea.  My 1980 set that never was will have all that and more.  Those of you that actually read this far into the post can of course request cards as usual or even submit ideas for subsets that I didn't include.

To be continued....