A little later on Friday than I like to post these, but for your entertainment....The Friday Five.
Sets are in numerical order by year. I did not give a runners up, or honorable mention, on these posts. However, I will give a nod to the 1981 Donruss set. It's not one of my five for a few reason, but it's still a really good set if you are looking for something beyond this list. Like the good Donruss sets the cards had some good rookies and had a good 1980s card set feel, but the set was riddled with errors and almost all of the pictures in the set and taken in Wrigley Field or Comisky. It's overly noticeable the first time through the set, but it makes it hard to flip through the set too many times. Still I love some of the cards in the product, most notably is the Tim Raines rookie card.
I did not actually collect cards in 1982, but found this set sometime after college and slowly put together the complete product with a few boxes. The 1982 Donruss set was an improvement over the 1981 set in almost every facet. I always really liked this design with the baseball and baseball bat at the bottom, not sure why. There is something really early 1980s about it all, that's probably not a good thing, but I still love looking at these cards. The most important card in the set is the Cal Ripken rookie card....
In my opinion the 1982 Topps Traded Ripken is his best 1982 issue, but this has always been second on my list. It's better than the 1982 Fleer, which is a distant action shot, and the regular Topps card which features Ripken on a prospects card with two other players. If you did not want to shell out the money for the Topps Traded Ripken rookie card this a great alternative.
I think I would like this set a little bit better if Donruss had varied the design a little bit more. The 82 set had a baseball bat with a baseball, the 1983 set had a baseball bat with a baseball glove. Not sure the design team spent too much time here, but the 1983 Donruss set still has some really good qualities. This was, again, the first year I collected baseball cards. Interestingly I did not get any Donruss cards when I started collecting. In fact, I did not really get into Donruss cards until the late 80s. I did spend a little bit of time during the summer of 2003 putting this set together out of boxes. I figured it would be a fun project to undertake twenty years after starting my collection.
I feel like I have said this in about 20 different posts on this blog, but the 1983 products are always all about the big three rookie cards of Boggs, Sandberg, and Gwynn. The Sandberg, wearing the blue pinstriped Cubs uni, and the Gwynn in the brown Padres uni are my two favorites. There is a Wade Boggs, but meh.
I like the design of the 1984 Donruss set. This was the last of the 1980s Donruss sets that I assembled. I think I have only had it in my collection for about five or six years. Honestly, I collected the Topps set almost exclusively that year as a kid and when I went back later on I focused on the Fleer set. There are a lot of collectors who love the Mattingly rookie card in this set and often put it first on their list of Donnie Ballgame rookies. I am not much of a Mattingly person so I am going to take their word on that. My favorite card in the set is the Joe Carter rookie.
Wasn't this card worth something like $30 at one point? I remember it was surprisingly expensive for Joe Carter. So, here what is cool about this card:
3. 1980s Mustache
4. A Rated Rookie Logo
5. Joe Carter
(Look away Phillies fans...you know what it is....)
The 1985 Donruss set had a cool design like the 1984 Donruss set, but the rookie cards (Clemens and Puckett) are much better. I discovered this set at some point during the summer of 1985 while chasing McGwire cards. There was a card shop in Creve Couer, outside of St. Louis, and the owner made me a sweet deal on this set. It does not have a McGwire rookie card in it, like the 1985 Topps set, but I really like the Puckett rookie and love the Clemens rookie. There are some other cards in the set too, including a nice Eric Davis rookie, but these are the two most important cards in the set by a wide margin.
This was the first year I picked up any Donruss cards as a kid. The design leaves a little bit to be desired, but there are all kinds of cool rookies in this set including one of Barry Bonds. There is also a Will Clark, Barry Larkin, Greg Maddux, and Rafael Palmeiro. While I am not a huge fan of the design, it was pretty consistent with the style Donruss used throughout the mid 80s. Some collectors will not touch Donruss cards past 1987 because the card company went off the deep end with the design in the years following 1987 and eventually ended up being pretty blah by the time the 90s rolled around.