Oh, Donruss. Your name will be forever sullied in my mind due to the absolute crap you spewed out in the '80s. Although I'll give you credit, you did come up with some pretty decent cards in the '90s, after you got bought out, of course. But those crap-ass 1980s cards will be your legacy. As a kid, I was always disappointed whenever I got Donruss cards.
I've included this card because it is actual photographic evidence that Don Aase won an American League pitcher of the month award. Take a moment to let that little nugget of information digest. I know it's hard to fathom - you're fighting the urge to call Ripley right now, aren't you?
See, it really did happen, back in May 1985. Here's the circumstances surrounding that shocking incident.
Speaking of the 1980s, here's the only Donruss Diamond Kings card in the lot. Ken Singleton. I'll have to look, but I'm pretty sure it's from the same year as that bakery card. That was his career-best season, after all.
When it comes to crappy Donruss cards, they don't come much crappier than the 1982 set. Unless you count the 1981 set. With Dave Trembley's firing less than a week ago, I've chosen to commemorate the event with the last Orioles skipper to be fired in the middle of an absolutely dreadful season. Cal Ripken Sr. was fired after going 0-6 to start the 1988 season. Blog namesake Frank Robinson got the job and promptly steered the club to fifteen more losses in a row, for a record 0-21 start. He got to keep his job because he's Frank Freakin' Robinson. The next season, the O's had a winning record and finished 2nd in the AL East.
Frankly, I think this is a bit harsh on Cal Sr. and unnecessary on Donruss's part. Did they really have to highlight his failure to reach the Bigs by putting "Did not play major league baseball" and leaving all that white space on the card? Why not include his minor league stats, or his record as a minor league manager?
Apparently, according to the back of Cal Sr.'s card, his son was "one of the most highly regarded prospects in the Oriole system." I don't know - I never heard of the guy. Cal Ripken Jr.? Sounds like the name of a character actor or insurance salesman. But I was able to find a 1994 Donruss card of him. And then, a few cards later, the same card, but with lots of super-shiny gold foil.
The final couple of cards showcase the photography that made Donruss cards pretty decent near the end. I wish I could figure out what Robby Alomar was looking at in this picture. He's looking up - do you think he just skied a pop-up?
And here's the great Lee Arthur Smith, the one-time career saves leader and should-be Hall-of-Famer. Of course, on this card, it's all about the insert picture. Notice how Lee Arthur is stroking his goatee, all contemplative and such? What could he possibly be thinking about?
In 1994, Lee Arthur's only season with the Orioles, he saved 33 games, good enough for the league lead. I doubt we'll ever see such a paltry number on top of the leaderboard again.