Donruss Baseball Card Designs Through the Years

Donruss Baseball Card Designs Through the Years

The hobby changed in a big way in 1981. That was the year Donruss and Fleer joined Topps as the major manufacturers of MLB cards. Donruss baseball enjoyed a run of nearly 20 uninterrupted years as one of the sport's premier brands.

Throughout the 1980s, Donruss baseball sets were very consistent. The main designs maintained a lot of the same elements save for switching to black borders every now and again. Once the 1990s hit and there was a demand for better quality, Donruss baseball rose to the challenge. Starting in 1992, there was higher quality card stock even for the low-end release.In 1994, the brand got its first taste of foil stamping.

However, by this time, base Donruss baseball was getting lost in an increasingly crowded landscape. The focus was shifting to more premium brands and insert-driven configurations.

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1998 was the final year of Donruss' first run. It disappeared for a couple of years before being resurrected by Donruss-Playoff in 2001, They  had purchased the brand from the now-bankrupt Pinnacle Brands. 2001 Donruss Baseball does have cards for the two "lost years," but these were inserts and not a full-on release.

Donruss-Playoff continued to release Donruss sets through 2005 when their MLB license was not renewed. But the brand wasn't dead.

It returned for a third run in 2014, this time as a Panini product.

Here's a look at all of the Donruss baseball base designs released between 1981 and 2014. It showcases just how much things changed over the years.

Visual History of Donruss Baseball Cards


1981 Donruss Baseball Tim Raines


1983 Donruss Tony Gwynn












1982 Donruss Cal Ripken Jr


1984 Donruss Don Mattingly











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1991 Donruss The Rookies #33 Ivan Rodriguez PSA 10 Texas Rangers RC Card 1j6

1984 Donruss #83 Andy Van Slyke PSA 10 St. Louis Cardinals RC Baseball Card 0c6

1984 Donruss #248 Don Mattingly PSA 9 (OC) New York Yankees RC Baseball Card 0j6

Lot of 4 - 1986 86 Donruss Baseball #512 Cecil Fielder - Rookie - PSA 9

1985 Donruss #190 Dwight Gooden PSA 8 New York Mets RC Rookie Baseball Card 0c6

2001 Donruss Class Of #144 Scott Podsednik 1875 PSA 8 Seattle Mariners RC 0c6

1986 Donruss 28 Fred McGriff BGS 6.5 READ Toronto Blue Jays RC Baseball Card 0c6

1987 Donruss #361 Barry Bonds BGS 7.5 Pittsburgh Pirates RC Baseball Card 0c6

1983 Donruss #598 Tony Gwynn PSA 8 San Diego Padres RC Rookie Baseball Card 0j6

1985 Donruss #273 Roger Clemens PSA 6 Boston Red Sox RC Rookie Baseball Card 0j6

1987 Donruss #361 Barry Bonds SGC 92 Pittsburgh Pirates RC Baseball Card 1e6

1982 Donruss 405 Cal Ripken Jr Baltimore Orioles Jr. RC Rookie Baseball Card 0p8

1984 Donruss #248 Don Mattingly PSA 8 New York Yankees RC Baseball Card 0c6

1986 Donruss #37 Paul O'Neill PSA 8 Cincinnati Reds RC Rookie Baseball Card 0c6

1988 Donruss #34 Rated Rookie Roberto Alomar BGS 7 San Diego Padres RC Card 0c6

1988 Donruss #644 Tom Glavine BGS 8.5 Atlanta Braves RC Rookie Baseball Card 0c6
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Ryan Cracknell

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Ryan is a former member of The Cardboard Connection Writing Staff. His collecting origins began with winter bike rides to the corner store, tossing a couple of quarters onto the counter and peddling home with a couple packs of O-Pee-Chee hockey in his pocket. Today, he continues to build sets, go after inserts with cool technologies, chase Montreal Expos and finish off his John Jaha master collection.

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