Every generation of baseball fans have their "what-if's". For Cubs fans of the 1960's and early 1970's the question might be what if Ken Hubbs’ plane had stayed in the air and for Rangers fans about 10 years ago the question might be what would Ruben Mateo's career had been if he had suffered a freak injury which destroyed his running ability?
However, for New York Yankee fans the real question is what would have Don Mattingly's career numbers have looked like if he did not suffer the back issues he had for the final few years of his career? From being a constant triple crown threat each season, his numbers evolved into those of the typical great fielding line-drive hitting first baseman such as Keith Hernandez or Mark Grace. While at the beginning of the 1990's it appeared Mattingly was a dead lock for the Hall of Fame, today his best chances would be either being elected by the Veteran’s Committee or winning a few World Series titles as a manager like his former boss, Joe Torre. However, for those few years between 1984 and 1990, no card in the hobby may have been more desirable than the 1984 Donruss Don Mattingly rookie card.
I can pretty much guarantee you that almost every young New York area based collector and many outside the metropolitan area had this card as number one on their want list for a holiday or birthday present. One must also remember the 1984 Donruss set was issued before "premium" cards and thus the clear and simple design of the 1984 Donruss set along with being in shorter supply compared to Topps or even Fleer made this card—and this set—one of the decade’s best.
Now, 30 years later, many of those 1980's collectors are going back to relive their youth and card such as the Mattingly rookie are again very highly sought after collectibles. Couldn’t afford one as a kid? Now you can. Unless we’re talking a graded ‘10’ Mattingly Donruss rookies are well within reach. They weren’t as overproduced as 1988-91 cards were but there are enough for just about everyone who wants one.
In conjunction with eBay, our ‘Card of the Day’ honors Donnie Baseball and the 1984 Donruss rookie with this PSA 9 example currently up for sale.
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Rich Klein can be reached at [email protected]