(This is the 14th in our series of posts about the best baseball cards from the 1980s. Check out the rest of those posts here.)

The 1985 Donruss Eric Davis rookie card can teach us a thing or two about timing and success.

See …

Being at the right place at the right time gets a lot of lip service, but this sentiment misses a key point (or several) about achieving success.

While it’s true that opportunity is often unpredictable in terms of timing and exact manifestation, it’s also true that you have to have the goods if you want to be able to make the most of those opportunities.

In 1985 (or thereabouts), Donruss and Eric Davis were ready for the challenge.

1985 Donruss Eric Davis

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Donruss had staked their claim, finally, to collectors’ hearts in 1984 with a reduced print run, improved design, and a legendary Don Mattingly rookie card (also a product of timing to a large degree).

They parlayed that Olympics-year breakthrough into gigantic hobby interest entering 1985, and they continued to intrigue with a black-bordered design that evoked strong reactions on both sides.

With richer photography and stark red accents, though, 1985 Donruss won over most of us, and we clamored to fill our collections with rookies like Dwight Gooden, Kirby Puckett, Bret Saberhagen, and Roger Clemens.

Eric Davis, meanwhile, was busy tuning up the legs and bat that had drawn comparisons to everyone from Willie Mays and Hank Aaron to Cesar Cedeno and Pedro Guerrero.

Davis teased with 10 home runs and 10 stolen bases in just 57 games with the Cincinnati Reds in 1984, but he didn’t progress quite as expected in 1985. In 56 games, he swiped 16 bases but connected for “just” eight home runs.

Opportunity would have to wait, but Davis was clearly part of the Reds’ plans as they prepared for future pennant runs under player-manager Pete Rose.

The pause gave Davis’s cards a chance to soften a bit in the glare of the other hot rookies, but by the time camp broke in 1986, both Davis and his cards were ready to break out.

And they did.

On the strength of 27 home runs, 80 stolen bases, and 97 runs, Davis helped the Reds to a second straight 2nd-place finish and even received some MVP consideration.

His power-speed predictably sent collectors back to our stacks of 1985 cards to pull his now-hot rookies.

1985 Donruss Eric Davis (back)

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Arguably the most striking of the lot was his 1985 Donruss pasteboard, an action shot of ED at-bat in front of a blurry crowd, accented perfectly by the red stripes on the card’s borders.

And those divisive black borders lend a richness to the image that traditional white boundaries couldn’t have touched.

It’s an awesome card that became truly special because the player and company involved brought their talents together at just the right time.

That’s how you create the best card in a set, and Eric Davis did just that with his 1985 Donruss gem.

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(This is the 14th in our series of posts about the best baseball cards from the 1980s. Check out the rest of those posts here.)

 

 

 

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