Cheap Wax Wednesday Box Breaks: 1991 Donruss Series 1 Baseball

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1991 Donruss Baseball is split into two series with Series 1 consisting of 386 base cards. The Series 1 base cards featured a blue background with red highlights, while Series 2 switches to green backgrounds. There is no mistaking the two.

Series 1 has three subsets (Diamond Kings, Rated Rookies & AL All-Stars) in addition to four different inserts. This would mark the rise in popularity of insert sets. While Highlights inserts were common finds in packs, the other three inserts were rare finds, and still valuable to this day. The Elite Series cards are serial numbered to 10,000 copies each. While that may seem like a lot (and it is), the total print run made these extremely tough pulls. Some estimates have them landing just once in every 75 or so boxes. If those weren’t tough enough to find you could also chance The Legend Series Nolan Ryan cards, numbered to 7,500 copies, or Ryne Sandberg Elite Signature Series autographs, numbered to just 5,000 copies. 

1991 Donruss Series 1 Baseball Box

Donruss broke into the baseball card world with a full set in 1981. That set featured no subsets, and wax packs also held a piece of gum. Those two things would change the following year, and Donruss would never look back. 

In 1982 Donruss debuted one of my favorite subsets, and a highlight of each release, at least for me. Diamond Kings, featuring the art of Dick Perez, were the first 26 cards of the 1982 set. That subset would become a mainstay for Donruss. Surviving as a subset through 1991, Diamond Kings would remain a popular insert set. Panini has brought Donruss back, still featuring Diamond Kings as a subset in each release. 

1991 Donruss Series 1 Baseball Box Break

Cards per pack: 15 cards plus 1 puzzle card
Packs per box: 36
Price paid: $10

Shop for 1991 Donruss Series 1 Baseball boxes on eBay.

Pack 1 highlights:

Kevin Brown, John Franco, Cecil Fielder DK & Willie Stargell Puzzle (there is a puzzle card in each pack, but I won’t show all of them)

Kevin Brown had an extremely underrated career. Pitching through the 90’s offensive explosion, Brown finished his career with 211 wins and a 3.28 ERA.

Pack 2:

Marquis Grissom, Cal Ripken, Jr. AS & Roberto Alomar DK

Pack 3:

Dennis Eckersley, Fred McGriff, Kevin Mitchell, Tony Gwynn, Dave Parker DK & Gary Carter HL

Pack 4:

John Kruk, Tom “Flash” Gordon, Tony Phillips, Orel Hershiser, Carlos Baerga & Gregg Olson DK

Maybe even more impressive than Gordon’s career numbers? He has two sons that have appeared in the major leagues, Dee and Nick. 

Pack 5:

Ryne Sandberg HL & Kenny Rogers

Pack 6:

George Brett, Jose Canseco AS, Ken Caminiti & Ryne Sandberg DK

Pack 7:

Kent Hrbek, Paul Molitor, Gregg Jefferies, Andres Galarraga, Bernard Gilkey RR, Alan Trammell & Barry Larkin DK

Though Gregg Jefferies never did live up to the hobby hype, he did produce a very respectable career. Over 14 major league seasons, Jefferies hit .289. 

Pack 8:

Eric Davis, Jim Abbott, Dwight “Dewey” Evans, Mark McGwire, Jimmy Key, Nolan Ryan & Ken Griffey Jr.

Pack 9:

Bret Saberhagen, Tino Martinez RR & Sandy Alomar, Jr. DK

Pack 10:

Robin Ventura, Dante Bichette, Mark McGwire HL & Roger Clemens DK

Though Dante Bichette was a four-time All-Star, early indicators show his son Bo will be even better.

Pack 11:

Kevin Brown, John Franco & Cecil Fielder DK

Pack 12:

Marquis Grissom, Cal Ripken, Jr. AS & Roberto Alomar DK

Pack 13:

Dennis Eckersley, Fred McGriff, Kevin Mitchell, Tony Gwynn, Dave Parker DK & Gary Carter HL

Fred McGriff is one of my top Hall of Fame snubs. Had the 1994 season not ended early because of the strike, he most likely would’ve hit the seven more home runs he needed to finish his career in the 500 Home Run Club. 

Pack 14:

John Kruk, Tom Gordon, Tony Phillips, Orel Hershiser & Carlos Baerga

Pack 15:

Larry Walker, Mark McGwire AS, Pedro Guerrero DK & Edgar Martinez DK

Pack 16:

Greg Maddux, Ray Lankford RR & Matt Williams DK

The base card design matches up perfectly with Maddux’s Cubs colors. Maddux led the league with 263 innings pitched in 1991, posting a 3.35 ERA. He would win his first of four Cy Young Awards the following year. 

Pack 17:

Joe Carter, Bo Jackson HL, Ron Gant DK, Bobby Bonilla & Darren Daulton

Pack 18:

Robin Ventura, Dante Bichette, Mark McGwire HL & Roger Clemens DK

Pack 19:

Greg Maddux, Steve Avery, Brett Butler & Ramon Martinez DK

Pedro’s big brother Ramon wasn’t so bad, either. An All-Star in 1990, he finished the year with a 20-6 record and 2.92 ERA. He also threw 12 complete games. Martinez finished second in the NL Cy Young race, losing the award to Doug Drabek. 

Pack 20:

Ray Lankford RR & Matt Williams DK

Pack 21:

Ken Caminiti, Mark Grace & Ramon Martinez DK

Pack 22:

George Brett, Brett Butler, Jose Canseco AS & Ryne Sandberg DK

Brett Butler never had a double-digit home run total in a single season. What he did was hit and run. He finished his career with 2,375 hits and 558 stolen bases. 

Pack 23:

Mark Langston, Joe Girardi, Carlos Baerga, Cal Ripken, Jr. & Cecil Fielder HL

Pack 24:

Ozzie Smith, Lance Johnson (I love seeing throwback uniforms on cards), Ryne Sandberg HL & Gregg Olson DK

Pack 25:

Jay Bell, Robin Yount, Dwight Gooden, Sandy Alomar, Jr. AS, Moises Alou RR & Rafael Palmeiro DK

Moises Alou missed the entire 1991 season due to injury. He would recover, though, and hit .303 over 17 major league seasons. 

Pack 26:

Ellis Burks & Bobby Thigpen DK

Pack 27:

Tom Henke, Julio Franco, Omar Vizquel, Carlton Fisk HL & Barry Bonds DK

Pack 28:

Roger Clemens, John Smoltz, Chuck Finley DK & Delino Deshields DK

Do you think the Tigers regret trading Smoltz in 1987? Their return was Doyle Alexander, who pitched for three seasons in Detroit. He went 29-29 with a 3.91 ERA. Smoltz would go on to win 210 games and save another 154 in Atlanta. 

Pack 29:

Tom Gordon, John Kruk, Gary Carter HL & Dave Parker DK

Pack 30:

Carlos Baerga, Ryne Sandberg HL, Lance Johnson & Gregg Olson DK

Pack 31:

Ozzie Smith, Jay Bell, Robin Yount, Sandy Alomar, Jr. AS, Dwight Gooden & Rafael Palmeiro DK

Sandy Alomar made the All-Star team in 1990, his first full season in the major leagues. He finished the year hitting .290 with nine home runs and 66 RBI. He also made the All-Star team in 1991, though he played in just 51 games, and hit .217 without a home run and just seven RBI. 

Pack 32:

Moises Alou RR, Ellis Burks & Bobby Thigpen DK

Pack 33:

Julio Franco, Carlton Fisk HL, Omar Vizquel & Barry Bonds DK

Pack 34:

Mark Langston, Cecil Fielder DL & Dave Stieb DK

Dave Stieb quietly put together a nice career. Stieb led the league with a 2.48 ERA in 1985. He would finish his career with a 3.44 ERA. 

Pack 35:

Cal Ripken Jr. 

Pack 36:

George Brett, Jose Canseco AS, Ken Caminiti, Mark Grace & Ryne Sandberg DK

Lastly, the George Howard Brett card back. That one doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as well as Michael Jack Schmidt. Honestly, I didn’t even know Brett’s middle name was Howard until just now. Brett was a consistent performer his entire career.

If you are wondering if I was able to complete the puzzle, here you go. Obviously it looks a lot better if you rip the pieces out and really put it together. I was just happy to pull all 21 cards to complete the whole puzzle. 

No Elite or Legend Series pulls for me, unfortunately. Though that should be expected considering the awfully long odds. The good news? I am sure there are some Elite Series cards still waiting to be pulled in these extremely cheap boxes somewhere.

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Want more installments of Shane Salmonson’s Cheap Wax Wednesday? Check out his other breaks in the archives.

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1 comment

  1. John S. 24 July, 2021 at 22:14

    At least you can still get a box for only $10 even if it’s from the junk wax era. Might as well do 1991 Fleer next, LOL.

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