Thursday, October 14, 2021

Diamond Kings - from insert series to standalone set

I thought Panini had started releasing Diamond Kings as a range in itself in the years after the company acquired the rights to various DonRuss ranges. I've now discovered that DonRuss started doing it at the start of the millennium before being swallowed by the Panini empire.

However, the first card in today's post comes from the 90s, when the Diamond King cards were an insert series in the DonRuss flagship set.

Card Number 780: DonRuss, 1994; #DK-11

This is a very bold artwork with Diamond Kings emblazoned in red foil above it. The painting is by Dick Perez, who also painted Tony for the 1985, 1989 and 1996 Diamond Kings cards. It's to Dick's credit that his paintings looked quite different to each other. This is a very effective portrait.

The back is a little bit dull in comparison. It also gets dinged for gratuitous use of justified text. That's just one of my personal dislikes, but my justification for not liking justified text can be seen at the end of the second line where 'arthroscopic' is split over the two lines and the last two letters appear on the line below. 

For the record, Andres Galarraga won the batting title that year with .370. Tony's total of .358 would have won him the title in 1990, 1991 and 1992, so being runner up in 1993 showed how he was coming into form. He won four in a row from the following season. 

Card Number 781: DonRuss Diamond Kings, 2002; #145

In 2002, DonRuss released a 200-card Diamond Kings set. It was the first time Diamond Kings had been used as a standalone brand.

This is printed on a high quality, canvas-effect board. The way Tony's name is arranged it looks like 'Tony Gwynn of Padres', but the 'of' is actually OF, denoting his position as an 'outfielder'. 

DonRuss had moved on from commissioning art from Dick Perez. The cardback credits this to Mark Turnes. A Google search turns up several examples of his sports artwork, but he doesn't seem to have a website.

The cardback also has a handy line up of Tony's Diamond King appearances, which acts like a mini checklist. I will round out the set when I add his 2001 card to my collection!

Total: 781 cards

1 comment:

  1. Diamond Kings are great! Since they were a subset in the full set, when they became an insert, and now that they are a full set to themselves. Always one of my favorite releases each year.