MLB license or not, Donruss makes its return to the baseball card market this week, banking in part on two others who are on the outside looking in.
Pete Rose last appeared on a Donruss baseball card when Robbie Alomar and his brother were still considered up and comers.
A 25-year Major League career was coming to an end and Rose had shifted toward managing by the time his 1987 baseball cards hit the market. His departure in the wake of the betting scandal has kept Rose out of MLB trading cards since then. Like his modern day colleague, Joe Jackson has been banned for life for the 1919 Black Sox scandal. The on field prowess of the two icons hasn’t been forgotten by fans and collectors. At least that’s what Donruss is banking on as the company returns to the baseball market with its2008 Threads Baseball series.
"There is no denying that these two men were legends of the game and Donruss wants to honor them for their skills on the field," states the company literature. The inclusion of Rose and Jackson seems symbolic after MLB angered some collectors by yanking Donruss’ official MLB license in 2006. The company has not yet been allowed to return, but Donruss is inching its way back by signing newly-drafted pros to contracts that allow it to produce a baseball set of some kind.
Threads marks Jackson’s first appearance in a Donruss product. He will appear on four cards in the set including his own Century Legends and Diamond Kings cards. Inserted on Jackson’s memorabilia cards will be pieces of a game-used bat from the White Sox star’s final years in professional baseball. The card will be the key to the Threads chase program.
Authentic autographs and memorabilia from Rose will also be available in the set, with Rose having his own Baseball Americana, Century Stars and Diamond Kings cards.
Rose and Jackson join a list of retired players set to appear in the product, including Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Cal Ripken Jr., Nolan Ryan and Ted Williams. Donruss will have the first autograph and memorabilia cards of top prospect Rick Porcello, as well top prospects Ike Davis, Josh Vitters, Xavier Avery, Mat Gamel, Christian Marrero, Elvis Andrus, Jesus Montero, Brandon Waring and more than 110 others.
Five-card packs of Threads carry a $4 SRP. Donruss announced a sellout of the product last month. Boxes have begun to hit store shelves with numerous boxes and cards already on eBay.
One unique subset will be Donruss’ "College Greats". Picturing players in their collegiate uniforms including Dave Winfield (Minnesota) and Bob Gibson (Creighton), the cards could be a unique niche in a crowded 2008 baseball card lineup now nearing season’s end.