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 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....


  1. Look great. Requesting Ron Cey, Rickey Henderson, Mark Fidrych, maybe a rookie prospects card with Raines and Valenzuela.

  2. Trophy cards! (a la the 1972 set)

    Never mind, I'll get back on my meds now. :)

  3. Sweet cards! The '80 Donruss prototypes would have worked back in the day even if they did steal from Topps a bit. Could have been a fun set though a logo would have helped a lot. Great post.

  4. I remember they reprinted that 3 card panel in an issue of Baseball Cards magazine back around 1986. I always thought it looked better than the design they chose.