Each week I look back through my baseball card collection for a deep dive on beloved Bombers and past seasons.
Player: Ron Guidry
Set: 1982 Donruss
Card #: 548
When the Yankees clipped San Francisco in seven games to take the 1962 crown, their ninth in a fourteen-year span, few could have guessed that the next title was fifteen years away. Fewer still would have guessed that the ace who would pull them out of mediocrity would be a 5′ 11″, 162-pound lefty from Lafayette, Louisiana. This week we take a closer look at Ron Guidry and Donruss’ follow-up to their inaugural ’81 set.
Donruss and Fleer were the first companies to reap the benefits of Topps’ newly busted monopoly when they released their premier sets in 1981. Fleer previously released sets of retired players in the early ’60s and team logo stickers throughout the ’70s to skirt Topps’ stranglehold, but began producing current players again in ’81 along with Donruss.
The Donruss ’82 set debuted several elements that became mainstays of their product for years to come. The most recognizable was the addition of the Diamond Kings subset, featuring the artwork of Dick Perez. Second, after the courts ruled that only Topps could package bubble gum with baseball cards, Donruss dropped gum from their ’82 wax packs and instead added a puzzle piece card. The 63-piece jigsaw in ’82 featured The Babe. Donruss’ second offering also included a higher quality card stock as well as one of the most coveted rookie cards of the ’80s in Cal Ripken, Jr.’s #405.
Donruss recycled the ’82 design, along with several other recognizable ’80s styles, in their 2002 Donruss Originals set.
Best from the Back: The Absurdity of ’78
In Gator’s Cy Young-winning ’78 season, he went 25-3 with a 1.74 ERA and pitched 9 shutouts, leading the league in each category. He fanned 248 batters and walked just 72 in 273.2 innings pitched, leading the league with a 0.946 WHIP. Guidry’s remarkable season, that included a string of ten straight victories in April and May, was a key factor in the Yankees’ surge that saw them emerge from a 14-game grave to become World Series Champions.
Guidry in 1982
Guidry went 14-8 in ’82 with a 3.81 ERA for a team that went 79-83 and finished 5th in the East, just a year after winning the pennant. “Louisiana Lighting” started the season 2-2 before reeling off five consecutive wins in May and lowering his ERA to 2.77. The spring surge earned him his first All-Star distinction since ’79.
From there, Guidry won just one of his next nine decisions and was inconsistent in the second half. The Yankee offense was partly to blame as their 709 runs were just a shade above the league average and their .256 batting average fell into the bottom third. That season Guidry earned his first of four consecutive Gold Gloves with a pristine 1.000 fielding %. Over the remainder of his 11-year Yankee tenure, he remained a key cog in the Yankees’ rotation and recorded two more 20 win seasons in ’83 and ’85. He finished his career with 170 career wins, fifth-most in franchise history.
In raw condition, the card has sold for $0.99 to $2.00 in recent eBay sales. A PSA 10 sold for $9.99 in early January.
In 2009, Donruss was purchased by Panini, an Italian company that had previously dabbled in the trading card realm with World Cup Soccer and baseball stickers. A distinctive of Panini’s offerings is that, despite producing highly regarded designs, they are unable to include MLB team logos anywhere on their cards as they are not licensed by the league. They are licensed by the MLB Player’s Association, enabling them to feature player likenesses. Thus, all player images on Panini cards have logos and team names airbrushed or photoshopped out. The cards cannot even indicate team nicknames and instead teams are identified solely by the city or state in which they play.
Panini’s flagship set each year features resurrected designs from Donruss’ early years or an aesthetic reminiscent of the company’s roots.