The 1987 Donruss Baseball Card Set
Hands down, the ‘87 Donruss cards are one of my favorites from the Eighties. I’m a fan of the company’s regular season issues from 1984 to 1987 but this particular set delivered rookies by the dozens and the card design is clean, crisp and appealing to the eye. Fleer upped their game in ‘87 but I recall the product was in short supply at all of my local card shops. Topps went back to basics with the woodgrain borders and it was a step in the right direction but in my opinion it was Donruss that dominated the mid-Eighties. The Rated Rookies, Diamond Kings, puzzles, along with the continued enhancements in design and photography made them my go-to product, at least until Upper Deck blew the doors off of the entire industry in 1989.
Fresh off what I believed was the best card in 1986, Donruss held strong with their 1987 set. It was definitely the first one that I began to collect for my annual card-by-card collected set. By this point within the hobby, I saw Fleer, Toops, and Donruss on equal footing, and though I don’t feel this year’s Donruss had that same “wow” factor, I do believe that it more than held its own to maintain its top level status. Again, every Donruss set was carried by their rated rookies, good or bad. Bo’s card was late to the party but still pretty awesome. The two Cubbies, Mr. Maddux and Palmerio were solid choices. Barry Bonds rookie, as well as McGwire’s made this set a must have. Now, as with other sets this year, this is when the steroid dominos started falling and wiped out gains that had been made on many of these players to that point in their careers. Overall, I found this set to be a fun one to collect, just wish some of the individual cards within it had taken off like an ‘84T Mattingly, ‘85T Gooden, or ‘86D Canseco
Returning to the black border from the ‘85 series, the card fronts include a pair of yellow lines near the center surrounding a gray section filled with baseballs. The Donruss logo and year appear in the top left of the photo with the player’s team logo in the opposing corner. A row containing the player’s name and primary position is anchored above the bottom border with the background color reflecting that of the represented team. The layout on the flip side replicates the Donruss format from season’s past. The upper section lists the player’s biographical information, center encompasses up to five year’s worth of statistics, and the bottom reveals contract status, transactional information and career highlights. The font size and type remain the easiest to read among the big three manufacturers. Following in the Donruss tradition, the Diamond Kings 26-card subset bats leadoff in the checklist followed by 20 “Rated Rookies”. The Roberto Clemente puzzle card (#612) is the lone card depicting a former ballplayer
The standard and All-Star wax boxes included 3 cards on the bottom of the boxes along with a Roberto Clemente puzzle card. The Rookies 56-card set mimicked the regular issue ‘87 series except for the border (green instead of black) and featured Greg Maddux, Matt D. Williams, Fred McGriff and Mark McGwire.. Donruss offered a new product dubbed “Opening Day” for the first time in ‘87. This set contains 272 cards with a maroon border and a valuable error card (the original run incorrectly substituted Johnny Ray’s photo on Barry Bonds’ card). The large form All-Stars set (60 cards, 3 ½” x 5”), Pop-Ups (2 ½” x 5”), Super DK’s (nearly 5” x 7”) and the standard-size Highlights (56 cards) round out the Donruss subset catalog.
The subset values according to the 1997 edition of the Beckett Almanac of Baseball Cards and Collectibles are as follows: Rookies $20, All-Stars $6, Highlights $4, Opening Day $10, Pop-Ups $5, Super DK’s $12.
The players listed below made their lone appearance on a regular-issue baseball card in the 1987 Donruss set.
Ray Chadwick (#505) – California selected Chadwick in the 16th round of the June 1983 Amateur Draft. The North Carolina native was assigned to the Salem Angels of the Northwest League where he started in 10 of 16 appearances, going 3-5 with a 4.97 ERA and striking out nearly one batter per inning (82 K’s in 83 ⅔ IP). Pitching for the Peoria Chiefs (A) in ‘84 he made 25 starts and posted a record of 11-9 with a 3.99 ERA and 7.8 SO9. Chadwick achieved multiple promotions in ‘85 but struggled with his control as his walks (64) outnumbered his whiffs (63). Assigned to the Edmonton Trappers (AAA) coming out of Spring Training in ‘86, Chadwick rebounded with 9 victories and a 4.79 ERA. In July 1986 the Angels stormed into the division lead ahead of the Rangers and Ron Romanick, a 14-game winner in ‘85, was scuffling with a 5-8 mark and a 5.50 ERA. The ballclub farmed Romanick out to Edmonton and called upon Chadwick to assume his spot in the starting rotation. Manager Gene Mauch slated Chadwick’s debut for July 29, 1986 against Oakland. He fell behind in the second inning after issuing a leadoff walk to Bruce Bochte and serving up a one-out double to Dave Kingman but the Angels tied the game in the next frame on a single by Gary Pettis. The Halos assumed the lead when Dick Schofield clubbed a long ball to deep left off Dave Stewart to commence the top of the fifth. Chadwick entered the seventh inning having allowed only a pair of hits while working around five bases on balls. Dwayne Murphy singled and Donnie Hill doubled to begin the home half of the seventh, so Mauch signaled to the bullpen for left-hander Gary Lucas. The bases were loaded after Alfredo Griffin reached on an error. Tony Phillips grounded into a 6-4 force out but Murphy scored the tying run. Lucas induced Mike Davis to loft an infield fly to Rob Wilfong for the second out. Doug Corbett replaced Lucas and promptly gave up a base hit up the middle off the bat of Jose Canseco which plated Hill with the go-ahead run. The inning unraveled further as Bochte singled against Chuck Finley. Carney Lansford coaxed a bases-loaded walk to force Phillips home with the fourth tally. Kingman ended the rally with a groundout against the Angels’ fourth reliever of the inning, Vern Ruhle. Oakland triumphed 4-2 and Chadwick took the loss but held a 3.00 ERA after his first MLB outing. His second outing was a disaster as he failed to retire any of the five Mariners that batted in the first inning (four singles and a bases on balls to Ken Phelps) before Mauch gave him the quick hook. Seattle assumed a 4-0 lead and held on for a 6-3 victory despite seven scoreless innings of long relief by Ruhle. The Halos pivoted to Ruhle for the next three turns in the rotation where he delivered a 1-2 record with a 7.98 ERA. Chadwick returned to the mound for a starting assignment against the Orioles in Baltimore on August 23, 1986. He surrendered gopher balls to Cal Ripken, Jr. and Jim Traber in the bottom of the first to fall behind, 3-2. However Mauch stuck with him and Chadwick held the O’s to one hit over the next three frames. Fred Lynn launched a long ball leading off the fifth and Mauch called upon rookie left-hander Chuck Finley to close out the final three innings with the Angels trailing 4-2. Finley flummoxed the Birds but the California crew was unable to mount a comeback against Mike Flanagan, Rich Bordi and Don Aase. One week later Chadwick pitched six strong innings and took a no-decision against the Tigers. Holding a 3-2 advantage with two outs in the visitor’s sixth, Darrell Evans crushed a solo shot deep into the right field corner. Detroit went ahead in the eighth when Gary Lucas served up Evans’ second long ball of the game. California claimed the walk-off win after Brian Downing drew a free pass leading off the bottom of the ninth and Doug DeCinces launched one into orbit down the right-field line off Bill Campbell. Squaring off against the Bronx Bombers at Anaheim Stadium on September 5, 1986, Chadwick retired the first 8 Yankees he faced before issuing a two-out walk in the third to Wayne Tolleson. New York tied the score at 1-1 on consecutive base hits by Claudell Washington and Willie Randolph. In the fourth inning, a single by Don Mattingly and a Dan Pasqua base on balls set the table for an RBI knock by Mike Easler and a two-run single off the bat of Joel Skinner. Mauch called upon Chuck Finley to stop the bleeding. He whiffed Tolleson but the Yankees prevailed 7-4. California held a 6 ½ game lead in the American League Western division standings and the manager opted to skip Chadwick’s next turn in the rotation. He sat for 17 days before receiving another start, opposing Cleveland in the second game of a doubleheader. Chadwick issued a one-out walk to Brett Butler and gave up back-to-back two-baggers to Joe Carter and Mel Hall as the Tribe registered two runs in the first frame. Julio Franco led off the third with a double and scored on a one-out base knock by Hall to put the Indians up by 3. Tony Bernazard’s fourth inning two-base hit plated Brook Jacoby and knocked Chadwick out of the contest. Rich Yett quieted the Halos’ bats as he twirled a 4-hit shutout and Cleveland emerged with a 7-0 victory. In his final Major League appearance the Angels rallied for 5 runs in the sixth inning against the Royals but Chadwick did not figure in the decision. California snatched a quick 1-0 lead when Gary Pettis roped a double to left, swiped third and scored easily on a sacrifice fly to center by Wally Joyner. The Royals responded with three unearned runs in the bottom of the first after Mark Ryal dropped a fly ball off the bat of leadoff man Rudy Law although Chadwick contributed by allowing three singles and a walk. Jack Howell ripped a double to center off Bret Saberhagen and scored on Joyner’s single to right field but the Halos trailed 3-2 after three innings. In the home half of the fourth, Bo Jackson walked, stole second and moved to third on a Bill Pecota groundout. Mauch hooked Chadwick in favor of Chuck Finley but Buddy Biancalana greeted the lefty with a line drive base hit to right to plate Jackson. The Angels’ offense erupted when the Royals replaced Saberhagen on the mound with fellow right-hander Scott Bankhead. Ryal hit a line drive single to right and Rob Wilfong followed with a bunt hit towards third base. The bases were loaded when Jerry Narron coaxed a walk. The runners were unable to advance on a fly out to center by Dick Schofield. Pettis drew a base on balls to force Ryal home. Kansas City manager Mike Ferraro summoned Steve Shields but he issued a walk to the free-swinging rookie left fielder Devon White to knot the score at 4-4. Howell’s sacrifice fly put the Halos ahead and following an intentional walk to Joyner, Reggie Jackson ripped a two-run single to increase the advantage to 7-4. Kansas City was unable to solve Finley as the southpaw struck out five and allowed only two hits and no runs over 5 ⅔ innings to pick up the victory. Chadwick was assigned to Edmonton (AAA) to begin the ‘87 season and his command issues prevented him from returning to the big leagues. He started 25 games and made a pair of relief appearances for the Trappers, posting a 7-10 record with a 5.86 ERA and an unsightly WHIP of 1.799 while issuing a career-worst 114 free passes. California released him and he signed a minor league deal with the White Sox in May 1988. Pacific Coast League opponents continually feasted on Chadwick as he yielded an ERA of 6.51 in 14 outings (13 starts) for the Vancouver Canadians. Demoted to the Birmingham Barons (AA) he finally turned in some decent outings, furnishing a 3-2 mark with a 3.92 ERA and a 1.231 WHIP in six starts. He swapped Sox in August 1989, traded from Chicago to Boston in return for outfielder Dana Williams. Starting in seven contests for Pawtucket, the right-hander was pummeled as he allowed 52 hits and 24 walks in just 38 innings for a 6.39 ERA and a ghastly 2.000 WHIP. Chadwick’s final minor league stop came with the Royals’ double-A affiliate in 1990. Working primarily in long relief while making 16 starts for Omaha, Chadwick logged 7 wins against 11 losses with a 5.00 ERA and a 1.431 WHIP.
Randy Asadoor (#574) – Texas selected Randy Asadoor in the third round of the June 1983 Amateur Draft and immediately assigned him to the Tulsa Drillers (AA). He slugged .503 across 46 contests and returned to the club the following year. His output declined somewhat from his stellar debut but he still contributed 22 two-base knocks, 16 bombs and 17 stolen bases. Upon the conclusion of Spring Training in ‘85, the Rangers sent Asadoor packing to the Padres in exchange for Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams. The Friars assigned him to Las Vegas (AAA) where he spent most of the next three campaigns, compiling a .262 BA with 19 doubles and 11 jacks. In 1986 he produced his highest BA (.280) and OBP (.388) along with 10 triples to merit a recall in September as San Diego limped towards a fourth-place finish. Taking over at the hot corner for veteran Graig Nettles, Asadoor played nearly every day down the stretch. He drew a tough assignment for his first MLB game on September 14, 1986. Facing Mike Scott, the eventual 1986 NL Cy Young Award winner, he struck out in all three plate appearances before being lifted for a pinch-hitter. The man who replaced him, Carmelo Martinez, belted a two-run walk-off blast off Scott with one out in the ninth as the Padres prevailed, 3-2. Asadoor collected his first MLB hit the following night against Mike Krukow in a 4-1 loss to the Giants. One week into his big league career, he delivered a pair of base hits and notched his first RBI while Jimmy Jones one-hit the ‘Stros on September 21, 1986. Asadoor enjoyed a banner evening against Atlanta at Fulton County Stadium twenty four hours later, collecting four safeties in five trips to the dish and raising his batting average to .421 in a 9-8 loss to the Braves. Over his next three games the rookie registered four hits (three doubles) and four ribbies to maintain a .400 BA. He had an adventurous day on the basepaths versus the Reds on September 26, 1986. After San Diego knocked Chris Welsh out of the contest in the bottom of the first, Asadoor stepped to the dish and rapped a two-run double to put the Friars ahead 5-3. Making a mental note as the rookie extended his lead off third (he advanced on the throw home), Bo Diaz caught a ball from reliever Carl Willis and fired down to third. Asadoor was stuck in no-man’s land, and the Reds tagged him out in a rundown (C-3B-P). However he redeemed himself by stroking a single to start the sixth, swiped second on Gary Green’s strikeout and advanced to third on Diaz’s throwing error. Facing the Dodgers on September 30, 1986, Asadoor hammered a two-run double to knot the scoring at 6-6 in an eventual 11-8 victory by the Padres. In his final big league contest Asadoor struck out against Ron Robinson in his last at-bat but he collected two base knocks in the game to end the season with a .364 BA (20-for-55) with 9 runs and 7 ribbies. The Padres acquired Kevin “World” Mitchell in the off-season to be their everyday third baseman which left Asadoor to battle with Randy Ready and Tim Flannery among others for playing time. He was optioned to Las Vegas when the club broke camp in ‘87 and his batting line (.248/3/28) did nothing to convince the Padres’ brass to recall him at any point during the season. The infielder spent the majority of the 1988 campaign with the Albuquerque Dukes (AAA), an affiliate of the Dodgers, before latching on with the Rangers’ Port Charlotte (A) ballclub for 19 games. Asadoor compiled a woeful slash line of .216/.291/.335, did some soul-searching in the off-season and decided to look for another line of work.
Did You Know?
Donruss card backs included “Career Highlights” which revealed interesting facts about the players.
The 1987 Donruss set does not contain any significant error variations.However, the 1987 Donruss Opening Day set botched the Barry Bonds card (#163). The original version displays a photograph of Bucs’ second baseman Johnny Ray and sells for three times above the corrected edition.
Greg Maddux, Barry Bonds, Bo Jackson, Barry Larkin, John Kruk, Will Clark, Rafael Palmeiro, Kevin J. Brown, B.J. Surhoff and Doug Drabek highlight the list of players making their cardboard debuts in the ’87 Donruss set.
Price Guide (Then and Now)
The “Beckett Baseball Card Monthly Price Guide” (December 1987 edition) cataloged the 1987 Donruss Baseball complete set at $33. Mark McGwire’s “Rated Rookie” / first regular issue Donruss card ranked as the highest individual value at $7.50 followed closely by Eric Davis’ Diamond King ($3), Don Mattingly ($2.50) and Wally Joyner’s rookie card ($2.50). At the present time, a Greg Maddux (#52) with a PSA 8 grade can be found in the $10-$25 range while the Barry Bonds (#361) is selling between $5 and $15.
Please add a comment below if you would like to share any memories from collecting the 1987 Donruss baseball card set or your experiences with card collecting in general!
Articles in the Series
References and Resources
Beckett, Dr. James, Rich Klein and Grant Sandground. Beckett Almanac of Baseball Cards and Collectibles. Dallas, TX: Beckett Publications, 1997. Print.
Beckett.com (requires subscription to view prices):
Trading Card Database – Photo Gallery
About the Authors
Derek Bain is a New Jersey native with a passion for baseball, statistics, computers and video games who enjoys spending quality time with his family.
Tom Corby – Cousins with Derek, I am a history teacher at New Egypt High School. I have three kids, Addison, Jaclyn, and Mason and I’m happy that I get to coach them in their sports as well. In my spare time I enjoy reading, anything beach related, and fishing when time allows.
Hardball Architects examines the trades, free agent acquisitions, draft picks and other transactions for the 30 Major League Baseball franchises, divided into a 2-volume set (American League and National League). All key moves are scrutinized for every team and Sabermetric principles are applied to the roster construction throughout the lifetime of the organization to encapsulate the hits and misses by front office executives.
“Hardball Retroactive”, published in June 2018, is available in paperback and digital (Kindle) format at Amazon.com. Hardball Retroactive is a modest collection of selected articles that I have written for Seamheads.com along with my Baseball Analytics blog since 2010. Exclusive content includes the chapter on “Minors vs. Majors” which assesses every franchise’s minor league successes and failures in relation to their major league operations.
“Hardball Retrospective” is available in paperback and digital (Kindle) format at Amazon.com. Supplemental Statistics, Charts and Graphs along with a discussion forum are offered at TuataraSoftware.com. In Hardball Retrospective, I placed every ballplayer in the modern era (from 1901-present) on their original teams. Using a variety of advanced statistics and methods, I generated revised standings for each season based entirely on the performance of each team’s “original” players. I discuss every team’s “original” players and seasons at length along with organizational performance with respect to the Amateur Draft (or First-Year Player Draft), amateur free agent signings and other methods of player acquisition. Season standings, WAR and Win Shares totals for the “original” teams are compared against the real-time or “actual” team results to assess each franchise’s scouting, development and general management skills.
Don Daglow (Intellivision World Series Major League Baseball, Earl Weaver Baseball, Tony LaRussa Baseball) contributed the foreword for Hardball Retrospective. The foreword and preview of my book are accessible here.
“Hardball Retrospective – Addendum 2014 to 2016” supplements my research for Hardball Retrospective, providing retroactive standings based on Wins Above Replacement (WAR) and Win Shares (WS) for each “original” team over the past three seasons (2014-2016). Team totals from 2010 – 2013 are included for reference purposes. “Addendum” is available in paperback and digital (Kindle) format at Amazon.com.