The hobby changed for good 34 years ago when Fleer and Donruss shook up what had been a 24-year Topps baseball card monopoly. That 1981 Donruss issue gets a rebirth of sorts this week when its design returns as part of the new 2015 Donruss Baseball issue from Panini.
Donruss will come packed in 24-count hobby boxes with eight cards per pack and three autograph or memorabilia cards per box on average. Autograph insert sets include Signature Series, Production Line Signatures and Preferred Parings. Each will have nine parallels numbered to 99 or less. Each box will have more than 50 inserts and parallels.
Panini brought the Donruss name back with two series and a factory set in 2014 and was encouraged enough by sales to jump in again just ahead of the new season. While Panini doesn’t have an MLB license and can’t use logos or even team nicknames (hence, “St. Louis Baseball Club” on the front”), it does have the Donruss history on its side and those who collected the brand in the 1980s and 90s were a pretty loyal group. Some of the side sets, subsets and inserts familiar to the old school, licensed issues like Rated Rookies, The Rookies, Elite Series, Dominators, Longball Leaders, Production Line, Diamond Kings, Jersey Kings, Bat Kings and others are tapped in 2015 Donruss.
New this year are Rated Rookie Die-Cuts featuring ten of the season’s top rookies with gold and silver coloring as well as a five-card holofoil tribute to the late Tony Gwynn, who also adorns the product packaging.
In addition to the 1981 inserts, each box will have four Rated Rookies, four Diamond Kings, 12 Donruss Preferred, one Elite Series, one Dominator, one Longball Leader, one USA Baseball Collegiate National Team, one All-Time Diamond Kings, two The Rookies, two Stat Line and one Press Proof.
The All-Time Diamond Kings subset contains 30 cards based on great names from the Diamond King sets of the past. Production Line is a 20-card set featuring the 2014 stats with autographed versions numbered to 49 or less. Signature Series is a 95-card set featuring autographs from rookies like Rusney Castillo, Javier Baez, Kennys Vargas and other veterans and retired players. Donruss Preferred is a 40-card set of past and present greats and includes a ‘Cut to the Chase’ parallel set numbered to 49 or less.
Panini has purchased older cards from the days when Donruss was a licensed brand and inserted the cards randomly in packs. Buyback autograph subjects include Derek Jeter, Ken Griffey Jr., Cal Ripken and Don Mattingly.
You can see 2015 Donruss hobby boxes on eBay here.