Monday, July 29, 2013

Complete sets: 1987 Donruss the Rookies

In the wake of the few completed sets I was showing off in my recent posts, I thought it would be fun to keep things going with a boxed completed set.  Today's is one of many that came to me in a ridiculously awesome trade package from BA Benny a few months ago.  It's one of the many gems of 80s junk wax:  Donruss' 1987 The Rookies boxed set.
Look at that shiny gold foil!  It almost makes up for the pattern of baseballs that hurts your eyes.  The Rookies set came into existence the previous year, and that also included 56 base cards and a HOF puzzle card, this one of Hank Aaron.  It featured some popular players such as Bonds, Bo Jackson, and Will Clark.  The powers that be at Beckett decreed at some point that cards hailing from boxed sets like these couldn't be considered true RCs, so the term "XRC" was born.  It's comforting to know that the definition of "RC" is still as nebulous today as it was then.
Not bad, Donruss, not bad:  McGwire, Seitzer, and Nokes were 1-2-3 in the AL Rookie-of-the-Year race.  In fact, the set includes cards of six of the top seven AL vote-getters--Toronto's Nelson Liriano tied Tigers pitcher Mike Henneman for sixth with one point.  On the NL side, four candidates, including eventual winner Benito Santiago are represented.
There's still time to turn back, the shrink-wrap is intact!  Considering this set was in my retirement plans (I'm rich!) I hope you all appreciate what I'm doing in ripping these open.  By the by, McGwire was on top and Bo Jackson was at the bottom.  The cards arrive out-of-order, but I always have fun sorting through them to put them in their proper order in cases like this.  As you can see, the differences between these and the regular base set include some sort of hue of green for the border instead of black, plus the signature "The Rookies" logo in the bottom-right corner.

Ok, let's get on to the cards themselves:

Sometimes when looking at rookie-themed sets I like to take an unscientific look at how well the manufacturer did picking players who'd have above-average careers.  To that end, of the 55 rookies profiled here, I count

  • 1 HOFer:  Greg Maddux
  • 2 borderline HOFers except, you know, steroids:  Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro
  • 4 Hall of Very Good-ers:  David Cone, Fred McGriff, Benito Santiago, Matt Williams
  • 13 fairly productive players:  Ellis Burks, Mike Greenwell, Mike Henneman, Bo Jackson, Mike Jackson, Mark McLemore, Matt Nokes, Luis Polonia, Kevin Seitzer, John Smiley, Terry Steinbach, B.J. Surhoff, Devon White
That's 20/55 right there, and there's still a decent handful of guys that played 10 or more seasons, meaning at least half the set is pretty good.  While no card in this set is especially drool-worthy, the Maddux is a nice addition to his collection, and some of the 80s/90s stars like McGwire, Seitzer, and Greenwell bring back great collecting memories for me.  As far as I'm concerned, that's the mark of a great set.

I still have a nice treasure trove of BA Benny boxed sets to get through, so it may not be long before you get to see another one right here!