Category Archives: Donruss

By the numbers: 1991 Donruss

Products from the late 80s and early 90s are called junk wax for a reason.  They were produced in ridiculous, almost inconceivable amounts.  Exactly how much was produced of any given set is hard to calculate.  To determine a print run requires one of two things.  One, an estimate from the manufacturer.  Or, two, both a serial-numbered card and an insertion rate.  Most products from the junk wax era have neither.  An exception is 1991 Donruss.

In 1991 the Donruss flagship set included the Elite set.  A total of 8 cards were included in the basic Elite set, and each was numbered to 10,000.  Two other Elite cards, the Signature and Legend single-card sets, totaled 12,500 cards.  That is a grand total of 92,500 cards in the full press run of the 1991 Elite insert set.

What was the insertion rate of the Elite cards in 1991 Donruss?  Well, nobody knows for sure.  The figure has been estimated by the folks over at BaseballCardPedia at around 1 Elite card per 75 boxes.  With 36 packs per box, the overall odds of finding an Elite card in a pack of 1991 Donruss is 1:2,700.  Wow.  Those are long odds.  What does that mean for the total production of Donruss?

1991 Donruss
Total boxes: 6,937,500 (92,500 Elite cards * 75 boxes / 1 Elite card)
Total packs: 249,750,000 (36 packs / 1 box)
Total cards: 3,746,250,000 (15 cards / 1 pack)

That is nearly 4 billion cards.  What can you do if you place 4 billion cards end-to-end?  Lots, because 4 billion 3.5-inch cards cover a total distance of over 220,000 miles.  That distance would allow one to…

  • travel between New York and San Francisco over 80 times (2,600 miles).
  • circle the Earth at the equator almost 9 times (25,000 miles).
  • almost reach the Moon (240,000 miles).

Let’s go with another measure – surface area.  Each card measures 2.5″ x 3.5″.  With those dimensions, 4 billion cards would cover an area of 27 million square yards.  That area would cover…

  • a football field over 4,200 times (160′ x 360′).
  • Central Park in New York City nearly 7 times (843 acres).
  • Key West over 1.5 times (3,370 acres).

The 1991 issue of Donruss had a crazy production run.  That’s why you can pick up a box of this stuff for $10 or less without trying on eBay.  Buy two or more boxes, and you can get the price down to $7.50 without searching too hard.  This truly is junk wax.  Don’t be fooled though – buying enough to get an Elite card is no picnic.  Keep in mind that the least expensive Elite cards can be bought for under $10.    They are numbered to 10,000 after all.

Break – 1991 Donruss 2


base cards: 318 of 384 – 82.8% complete (222 doubles, triples, or quadruples)
Bonus Cards insert set: 11 of 12 – 92% complete (3 doubles)
Elite insert set: 0 of 10 – 0% complete

Selected Base cards

405 – Eddie Murray – MVP (front and back)
Eddie looks particularly surly on this card.

429 – Turner Ward – Rated Rookie (front and back)

437 – Ozzie Smith – NL All-Star (front and back)

451 – Cecil Fielder (front and back)
Cecil is listed at 6’3″ and 230 pounds.  No way.

471 – Barry Larkin (front and back)

744 – Dykstra and Murphy (front and back)

763 – Billy Hatcher – World Series (front and back)

Selected insert cards

BC-18 – Bonus Cards – Eddie Murray (front and back)


  • base cards
    A few things are worth noting here.  First, this series 2 box didn’t give nearly as much of a set (82%) as the series 1 box (96%).  Second, the series 1 cards have blue borders but series 2 is green (weird).  Third, just like series 1, series 2 has middle names and nicknames.  I still dig it.  Case in point – Osbourne (Ozzie) Earl Smith.
  • subsets
    There are a few subsets: Award Winners, Rated Rookies, and All-Star (NL only in series 2) cards.  There are some other random subset cards with very stupid themes.  I have shown a card of Dykstra and Murphy (Mr. Dirt and Mr. Clean).  I think this kind of thing is lame.
  • insert cards
    I struck out on Elite Series again (no stunner).  The other insert set consists of Bonus Cards.  Just like the series 1 box, I got 14 inserts.  About 1:2.5 packs seems like a good insertion rate for these cards.


My biggest complaint about series 2 of 1991 Donruss is that the cards are a different color from series 1.  That’s weird.  I can’t imagine many collectors liked this design.  Otherwise, I like the set much more than you might expect from a junk wax product.

Other blogs’ breaks/rips of 1991 Donruss 2

pack rip on Pursuit of Red Sox

pack rip on The Pursuit of 80’s(ness)

Break – 1991 Donruss 1


base cards: 372 of 386 – 96.4% complete (154 doubles or triples)
Bonus Cards insert set: 10 of 10 – 100% complete (4 doubles)
Elite insert set: 0 of 10 – 0% complete

Selected Base cards

1 – Dave Steib – Diamond Kings (front and back)

43 – Ray Lankford – Rated Rookie
1-2-3 – Willie Stargell puzzle

50 – Jose Canseco – American League All-Star (front and back)

84 – Eric Davis (front and back)

96 – Danny Jackson (front and back)

Selected insert cards

BC-8 – Bonus Cards – Gary Carter (front and back)


  • base cards
    This is your typical early 90s cheap product.  There is something that I really like about these cards – middle names and nicknames.  Almost every card lists a player’s middle name and often a nickname as well.  Examples – Raymond (Ray) Lewis Langford and Danny Lynn Jackson.  Canseco, always Mr. Cool, is just plain Jose Canseco.  This box almost gave a complete set.
  • subsets
    There are a few subsets: Diamond Kings, Rated Rookies, and All-Star cards.  I cannot stand Diamond Kings.  Those things are ugly.  The Rated Rookies are kind of pointless.  The backs are just like regular cards.  The All-Star cards are kind of cool because the backs give the player’s All-Star Game stats.  (Canseco went 0-for-4 in the 1990 All-Star Game.)  Series 1 only has the AL All-Stars.
  • insert cards
    The mother ship insert set for 1991 Donruss is the Elite Series.  With an insertion rate of around 1:2,700 packs, it’s no surprise that I didn’t pull one.  I did get a load of the Bonus Cards, including a full set of 10 from this box.  Beckett doesn’t list an insertion rate for these cards.  I got 14 in the box’s 36 packs.  That works out to close to 1:2.5 packs.
  • puzzle cards
    Technically this is an insert set, but it deserves special mention.  Donruss was forced by Topps to include puzzles with its cards.  (I can’t imagine a bunch of serious lawyers drafting an agreement about puzzles.)  The puzzle in 1991 was Willie Stargell.  I got a complete puzzle, but almost every single piece has residue from the wax pack.  Oh well, no great loss.


Nobody is going to consider 1991 Donruss to be a favorite set.  It’s pretty plain, but I really do like the middle names and nicknames on the back.  I also like the fact that the All-Star cards aren’t just the player’s basic card with an All-Star logo splashed on the front.  This box really wasn’t that bad.

Other blogs’ breaks/rips of 1991 Donruss 1

pack rip on A Pack A Day