For the first four years of their baseball card existence, Donruss spent the holidays in the dugout while first Topps and then Fleer hit collectors with a second wave of new cards each November.
Topps Traded set the standard in 1981, of course, offering up 132 cards with the same design as that year’s base set, but showing traded players in their new uniforms and rookies either for the first time, or solo for the first time.
Fleer followed suit in 1984, adopting the same formula, and hit it big with an Update set that still makes hobby hearts swoon.
Finally, in 1985, Big D decided to join the end-of-year fray … but they did it in their own way, as Donruss was wont to do.
And was sort of … magical.
Find 1985 Donruss Highlights on eBay (affiliate link)
Find 1985 Donruss Highlights on Amazon (affiliate link)
No 132-card bloat here, no sir! And no kneeling to the traded and rookies of the world, either, not unless they had done something truly remarkable.
Nope, Donruss opted for a Highlights set, lean and mean at 56 cards and issued in its own little box — and, as the name implies, dedicated to the big on-field accomplishments from the season just past.
A healthy swath of the checklist was devoted to the 24 Players and Pitchers of the Month from both leagues named throughout the 1985 campaign, which left room for other goodies like …
- Tom Seaver (#1, most Opening Day starts)
- LaMarr Hoyt (#23, All-Star Game MVP)
- Dwight Gooden (#33, Strikeout Milestone)
- Pete Rose (#40, all-time hits record)
- Willie McGee (#52, N.L switch-hitting record)
Interesting stuff, to be sure, but not all that compelling when Topps and Fleer were running out things like Steve Jeltz rookie cards and Larry Sheets rookie cards and Howard Johnson with the Mets and even Tim Stoddard with the Padres.
But if you wanted the most recent heroes the game had to offer, Donruss was the place to be.
I mean, there on cards #11 and #25 was George Brett, the American League Player of the Month in both May and July.
And there on card #26 was Brett’s teammate Bret Saberhagen.
And, heck, there on cards #36, 44, and 45 was Don Mattingly.
That was all so very timely, seeing as how Mattingly was named AL MVP that month (November), and Brett and Bret owned October …
It was George Brett, after all who copped ALCS MVP honors as his Kansas City Royals came back from 2-0 and 3-1 deficits to down the young Toronto Blue Jays.
And it was Bret Saberhagen who won two games in the 7-game madness of the World Series to help K.C. again come back from 2-0 and 3-1 holes to take the Fall Classic over the favored St. Louis Cardinals.
That landed Sabes the Series MVP Award, which must have looked great there on his mantel next to that Cy Young Award he took home in November.
Throw in NL MVP McGee and Cy Young Award winner Gooden, along with both Rookies of the Year — Vince Coleman and Ozzie Guillen — and you had player selection Topps and Fleer just couldn’t match.
And all in less than half the cards.
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Wow! Wax of the Day
While Donruss may have pulled off some magic in putting together their 1985 Highlights set, part of the magic of the modern hobby is that you can still find 35-year-old goodies in bulk, for relatively cheap … like this lot on eBay:
Yep, that’s a full case of 1985 Donruss Highlights sets, 14 in all. Why … that’s 28 George Bretts all in one place! Check out the full listing right here (affiliate link).Nothing to show!!