I was twelve years old when Donruss overtook Topps and Fleer in 1982 as the very temporary king of the Hobby. The crown myself and other neighborhood collectors had nothing to do with which set had the best Ripken rookie (though it probably was Donruss) or which cards would fund our retirement (all!?). Rather, it was thanks to the 26 cards that led off the set courtesy of Dick Perez.
In what was only my fifth year as a collector I had little against which to compare this glorious subset. Perhaps the closest analog was the Topps All-Star cards. As this was the first year of Diamond Kings, the checklist was particularly excellent since Donruss could more or less choose the very best player per team without worry about whether the player had already been a Diamond King. (By the way, see Chris Kamka’s excellent SABR Baseball Cards article on Diamond Kings for more than you’d ever want to know on player selection and reuse.) All these years later, I still love a Diamond King.
Which brings me to Rod Carew…
I posted some Rod Carew Card Art this morning and was thrilled that I had a taker almost right away. Money from the card went to the American Heart Association, which is an organization very near and dear to Mr, Carew’s…(no pun intended but here it comes…) heart. Carew, who just joined Twitter and has offered a few interactions with fans, even “liked” (i.e., clicked the…here it comes again…heart icon) the transaction, which was a nice feel good in addition to the card moving so fast.
Then a funny thing happened that literally never happens to me (but is extremely welcome). Two more collectors asked if I could make Rod Carew Card Art for them. In one case, the request was for a Twins card so I hit eBay since my own supply of Twins cards was down to the keepers in my PC. In the other case, so special request came with it, so I went thru my stacks to see what I had. I seemed to be out of standard Carew cards, but I had a few of his oversized 1983 Donruss Action All-Stars, which also happens to be Carew’s best headband card.
I wanted to do something more creative than simply swap out the outer border for glitter, and I was already an admirer of some work I’d seen fellow card artist Patrick do to turn these cards into standard sized (2.5″ x 3.5″) card art. Some classic Topps sets that came to mind that paired a large portrait with a smaller action shot were 1954-56 and1960, but here was Topps celebrating the heck out of its 70th anniversary while almost nothing was being done to honor 40 years of Donruss. Why not stay in the Donruss family and turn this Action All-Star into a Diamond King!
All I would need was an actual Diamond King I could grab some parts from, and luckily there was a George Hendrick right at the top of one of my stacks.
At first I didn’t think I could pull this one off–at least in a way that would look awesome, but I nearly always try even when I have my doubts. That’s really the only place breakthroughs come from.
Personally, I am a huge fan of the end result. That said, let’s take a minute to admire Carew’s original Diamond King from the 1982 set. Pretty much anytime I think I’ve done something awesome, Dick Perez is here to remind me who’s boss. Man, do I love his work!