First look: 2014 Donruss baseball cards



By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor

Donruss is back in baseball.

After nearly a decade on the bench through licensing losses, licensing gains and even a change in company hands, the standalone Donruss brand will return to the baseball card field in 2014 as Panini America announced its plans for the revival on Tuesday.

Set to arrive on Feb. 26, 2014 Donruss will include Diamond Kings, Rated Rookies and more when it returns for the first time since 2005.


Each 24-pack hobby box will include two autographs and one memorabilia card along with a smattering of inserts that will also be familiar to those who collected Donruss in its past days, which began in MLB back in 1981. Among the insert lineups are Press Proofs, Stat Lines (season and stat), Studio, The Rookies, Breakout Hitters, Breakout Pitchers, Hall Worthy, Team MVP and more.

Each box will also include a 5×7 box-topper of a Diamond King as well as inserts from the No-N0, Power Plus and more.

For autograph collectors, there will be Elite Series autos as well as Recollection Collection buyback cards. In addition, a number of the box-toppers will be signed cards, according to the company.

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball and Beckett Sports Card Monthly magazines. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an email to him at Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.


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  1. Chris Harris 26 November, 2013 at 12:34

    I’m intrigued, but at the same time also worried. Intrigued because 2014 Donruss Baseball *could* be the product the current monopoly licensee refuses to make: A simple, comprehensive, base-level product that’s fun to collect. Worried because it appears that what we might be getting instead is “Donruss Archives.” I’ll withhold final judgement until after all details (like the design of the base cards, and how large the base set is) are known.

    One HUGE negative I see are the Diamond Kings. If they’re going to use photographs instead of art, then why bother?

  2. Hollywood42 26 November, 2013 at 13:46

    I’m excited for this. Not sure if I’ll be collecting it or not (other than my obligatory team set and of my PC players that happen to be in the set), but I’m definitely looking forward to see how it turns out. Hopefully it’ll be great!

  3. heyyo 26 November, 2013 at 14:13

    I hope this leads into a 36 pack-per-box low end product in the future similar to the past. Like the above comment, I’ll reserve judgement but would really appreciate a “flagship” from Panini.

  4. Jason K 26 November, 2013 at 15:51

    I like the idea of bringing back Donruss, but I agree about “Dimond Kings” needing Dick Perez (or similar) artwork. I think because of the issues associated with their limited license, a stand alone “Studio” set would make more sense than just doing an insert. I like the “Hall Worthy” insert (the problem might be finding enough current players who are worthy of the HOF). I’m assuming they will use the classic “Rated Rookies” logo (which is a good thing). I would be more excited if the base card didn’t look like a bastard child of 1978 Topps and 1987 Donruss.

  5. Paul Angilly 26 November, 2013 at 15:53

    “2014 Donruss Baseball *could* be the product the current monopoly licensee refuses to make: A simple, comprehensive, base-level product that’s fun to collect.” — You mean, like the Topps base issue??? 990 cards in three series is not comprehensive??? Why not just simply say “I hate Topps no matter what it does”?

    I am surprisingly excited about this set, though. I really hate the no logos part, but that aside, the designs look great. I do agree with CH about one thing, though – Diamond Kings are not Diamond Kings without art. I mean, the design looks nice, but they could have called it something else.

    And it’s about time they did Studio! Given their licensing, that should have been an obvious choice from the start.

    Hard to tell from preview images, but looks like autos could be on-card – that would be a HUGE plus.

  6. David Hollingsworth 26 November, 2013 at 16:23

    Read on the Panini Blog that this will be a 200 card base set for all those that where wondering how comprehensive this would be.

  7. steve ortega 26 November, 2013 at 17:30

    Bring on the Diamond Kings since have almost every set that has come out plus the puzzles.I plant to make up and frame the puzzles and save them for my great-grandson.

  8. AE 26 November, 2013 at 17:36

    I don’t mind that these are unlicensed. The designs are a little hideous. It looks cheaply made. I’ve honestly seen people make their own cards to get autographed that look better than these. Also, Diamond Kings without art is like Allen & Ginter with gloss. Some things just need to be left alone.

  9. Chris Harris 26 November, 2013 at 17:58

    PA: The Topps Flagship set is a 660-card set bloated with meaningless parallels, pointless inserts, worthless hits, and mind-numbingly stupid gimmicks, and is no longer fun to collect.

    This product is “Donruss Baseball” in name only. Like I said, it’s “Donruss Archives,” because that’s the set Panini is modeling this after.

  10. Paul Angilly 26 November, 2013 at 22:16

    CH: That’s why I buy the factory set every year. What set today isn’t “bloated with meaningless parallels, pointless inserts, worthless hits, and mind-numbingly stupid gimmicks”?

    I will agree, though, that this is more like a “Donruss Archives” … but I don’t necessarily see that as a bad thing.

    Jason – dead on about the “bastard child of 1978 Topps and 1987 Donruss,” but unlike many, I kinda like it.

  11. deeeez 26 November, 2013 at 22:46

    another round of fugly by panini
    the manny elite looks like hes pinching a loaf

    dk was a team base card ant now with out team logos ???
    logo-less equal winning

  12. Andre I 26 November, 2013 at 23:07

    I agree with Bob Kale, Unlicensed stuff is crap.

    I wouldn’t mind seeing Panini with a license but until they have full rights I’m not buying any of their baseball products… I kind of like seeing the uniform logos and wordmarks on the cards… vs. the them being air brushed out. Even the over zelous crops make it look like very amature like.

  13. Olds 27 November, 2013 at 12:51

    Steve: The boxes should be just under or around $100 at most.

    Others: The no-logos dead horse has been beaten into a pulp. Anyone have anything else they’d like to add?

  14. colin 28 November, 2013 at 16:26

    without the licensing and teams names this product is garbage…the strasburg auto design looks terrible …ill be avoiding these

  15. Andre 29 November, 2013 at 04:05

    It might be a dead horse but you kind of have to expect it when you bring up a set like this and ask people’s thoughts… It’s not like it’s not a major issue.

    Also the photo cropping pretty much destroys a lot of the visual appeal of the cards.
    I love Panini cards but the need to stick to leagues that they have a license for.

    Same goes for UD & ITG…

  16. bearcatlawjd 29 November, 2013 at 10:06

    Elite Series looks great. 1993 was the best design for that insert so its nice to see this new version modeled after that year. Its about time Panini brought back Donruss, now all we need is a full Studio release.

    For older collectors brands like Donruss, Pinnacle, Score, Studio, and Elite bring us back to the 1990’s. I collected Donruss (Leaf) more than I did Topps back in the day. Even with the license Topps is boring the heck out of me with their releases. Its the same thing over and over again, heck their best release might have Opening Day because it wasn’t loaded with crazy hard to find hits. In a lot ways the lack of license has forced Panini to be creative which has led to both good and bad products.. I am hoping Donruss becomes a hit, heck I know I will be putting together the Elite Series insert set along with Elite Dominators.

  17. Zeprock 29 November, 2013 at 11:38

    That Diamond Kings Harper card looks like art to me. Why would you say it’s not art? Because there’s no facsimile artist auto on it?

  18. JuniorsHomeboy 13 January, 2014 at 15:19

    I can see the turn off with the licensing issue but it seems to me that Panini is building a deep product line and I would love to see Topps try to make cards without a license. Still don’t know if I will buy them but I have been surprised with Pinnacle so I may take a shot.

  19. Dave 20 January, 2014 at 20:34

    I can’t tell you how disappointed I’ve been with Topps being the only licensed company the past few years. There’s just not much to get excited about with their sets from year to year and there doesn’t seem to be much difference in their set designs either. I know the field was getting crowded with several card companies producing multiple sets each year, but I miss the variety from sets like Upper Deck, Fleer and Donruss. Without the license though, cards just don’t feel right without using the team logos. Kinda like getting cards out of the old cereal boxes.

  20. Phil 17 February, 2014 at 10:05

    @ Chris Harris- That’s where I’ve seen that banner/design/elongated oval the Machado card features- Stale Gum Blog! This stuff looks almost as bad as Americ’as Pastime. Not quite. And why isn’t the Diamond Kings an Art Card? The artist refused to draw players with no logos? “It’s stupid”- Pablo Picasso III.

  21. jeff 28 February, 2014 at 12:24

    Would like to see what could happen if Panini had a license. Maybe Topps might actually get better. It could only help the Hobby.

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