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

I wasn’t much of a baseball card collector in 1982, but even I knew there was something special about the “painted” cards that started popping up in my collection that spring.

Truth be told, the 1981 cards — the first I ever owned — were dismal enough that I didn’t much care if I ever opened another pack. But a few showed up here and there as treats from my mom on her grocery days, anyway.

I wasn’t impressed … at first.

I thought the Topps cards might actually be hockey cards thanks to the double-stick design.

Fleer seemed even dingier and cheaper than in 1981.

1982 Donruss Diamond Kings Tom Seaver

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Donruss — well, it looked a lot better than the flimsy junk from 1981, and then it looked a LOT, lot better when that first Diamond King peaked at me from inside its wax wrapping.

I think that first one was Pete Rose but … that seems a little convenient.

Not only was Charlie Hustle card #1 in the set, but he would become #1 (or #1a, thanks to Mike Schmidt) in my bubble-gum filled heart within a few years.

Whether or not Rose actually was the first DK card I saw, or owned, it’s one of those chunks of nostalgia that still stops me cold to this day.

But Rose cards have gotten a lot of space and love here at Wax Pack Gods, so I’m going to pull away from The Hit King for now.

There is no pulling away from Diamond Kings when it comes to choosing the best card from 1982 Donruss, though. (You know, except for the fact that I picked Carl Yastrzemski as the best overall 1982 card last year — whatever.)

Not only are these cards works of art, literally, but the entire backs are stories. In 1982, they were like a giant, painted lighthouse beckoning me into the cardboard shore of the hobby.

So who will it be?

Several of the Diamond Kings are dazzling, like Rose and Nolan Ryan.

Some are appealing because they put fairly obscure players right in the middle of the Perez-Steele spotlight — Len Barker, John Mayberry, Mike Norris.

But I’m a Cincinnati Reds fan, and this initial DK run gives me a couple of chances to be a homer.

Rose is out, of course.

That still leaves Tom Seaver, actually shown as a Red, though. And Seaver was one of those guys that my dad used to tell me about, even though Dad didn’t really know much about baseball (he’s picked up a few things in the years since).

“They call him Tom Terrific,” Dad said of Seaver. “Probably the best pitcher in the game.”

That was good enough for me. Still is.

1982 Donruss Diamond Kings Tom Seaver (back)

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It doesn’t hurt that 1982 was Seaver’s last season with the Reds, either. He may have sunk to 5-13 with a 5.50 ERA in that last dreadful season on the Riverfront before Cincy traded him to the New York Mets for Jason Felice, Lloyd McClendon, and Charlie Puleo … but The Franchise was always a king on the mound.

And that’s just the way Donruss treated him.

Like a king.

A Diamond King.

(This is the fifth 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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