Baseball Card History: Which 1991 Donruss Baseball Cards are the Most Valuable


Oh, the glory days of wax packs!

I recall fondly my dad taking me shopping at flea markets and Big Lots looking for boxes of Donruss, Pinnacle, and Studio. For some reason, these were my choice selections. Did I have great taste, or what?

So, yes, I now have so many boxes of mostly worthless (other than documentation of the pre-steroid baseball era), but there are some gems hidden within the 1991 Donruss set.

Now, none of these 1991 Donruss baseball cards are valuable enough to make you rich. Maybe not even enough to buy the latest AAA video game. But, there are some you should at least be on the look out for if you are ever sorting your old cards. Or, if you go shopping for cheap wax pack boxes on Ebay.

I’m not going to promise these are the absolutely most valuable, but I’ll touch on all of the card I think are worth pulling out of the random stacks of cards.

Donruss Elites

My baseball card collecting heyday was around 1989-1993. As I mentioned earlier, Donruss was one of the sets I seemed to always end up having boxes to open. I cannot remember just how many I actually opened, but obviously it was not enough to realize Donruss Elites even existed.

It is only recently as I have started looking into the baseball card collecting hobby again that I discovered these gems. And they are indeed the elite cards from 1991 Donruss. Depending on the player, they can range $10-$75 which far exceeds the current price for a box. However, keep in mind the odds of pulling an elite card has been estimated at 1 per 75 boxes; or, 1 Elite card for every 2,700 packs.

As with most inserts (especially those numbered to 10,000), you would be better off purchasing a single if there is a specific player you need, or even if you are trying to collect the set. But, if you have interest in the common cards, then by all means start opening those packs.

Cardboard Connection has a nice visual gallery of the Donruss Elite series if you want to take a look.

Player Name Card Number Card Count
Barry Bonds 1 10,000
George Brett 2 10,000
Jose Canseco 3 10,000
Andre Dawson 4 10,000
Doug Drabek 5 10,000
Cecil Fielder 6 10,000
Rickey Henderson 7 10,000
Matt Williams 8 10,000

Donruss Elite Legends

Much of what I said for the Elite applies here to the Elite Legends. One major difference is that the Nolan Ryan Elite Legends is limited to 7,500 printings.

Player Name Card Number Card Count
Nolan Ryan L1 7,500

Donruss Elite Signature Series

The Elite series is generally considered the introduction of numbered inserts. And the 1991 Ryne Sandberg Signature Series card is the rarest insert from the set. It is numbered to only 5,000, and is generally considered difficulty to find despite its relatively high card count based on today’s standards.

Player Name Card Number Card Count
Ryne Sandberg SS1 5,000

Promos

Donruss sent hobby shop owners samples of the 1991 Donruss set. In total, 10 different cards (at an unknown print run) were distributed. You can tell these apart from the base set by their backs: instead of the traditional back, they just say preview.

Dave Justice 1 unknown
Doug Drabek 2 unknown
Scott Chiamparino 3 unknown
Ken Griffey Jr. 4 unknown
Bob Welch 5 unknown
Tino Martinez 6 unknown
Nolan Ryan 7 unknown
Dwight Gooden 8 unknown
Ryne Sandberg 9 unknown
Barry Bonds 10 unknown
Jose Canseco 11 unknown
Eddie Murray 12 unknown

Super Diamond Kings

Not to be confused with the Diamond Kings included in the base set, these were only available through the mail. These were non-standard sizes (5″x7″) and featured 22 players who had a specific standout achievement.

Mark Langston / Mike Witt BC1 unknown
Randy Johnson BC2 unknown
Nolan Ryan (NH) BC3 unknown
Dave Stewart BC4 unknown
Cecil Fielder BC5 unknown
Carlton Fisk BC6 unknown
Ryne Sandberg BC7 unknown
Gary Carter BC8 unknown
Mark McGwire BC9 unknown
Bo Jackson BC10 unknown
Fernando Valenzuela BC11 unknown
Andy Hawkins (ERR) BC12A unknown
Andy Hawkins (CORR) BC12B unknown
Melido Perez BC13 unknown
Terry Mullholland BC14 unknown
Nolan Ryan (300W) BC15 unknown
Delino DeShields BC16 unknown
Cal Ripken BC17 unknown
Eddie Murray BC18 unknown
George Brett BC19 unknown
Bobby Thigpen BC20 unknown
Dave Stieb BC21 unknown
Willie McGee BC22 unknown

Studio Previews

The Studio Preview set was not nearly as successful as the Leaf Preview set if measured by number of future Hall of Famers. Even if we control for there being fewer cards. Still, it’s a fun set to chase. And I actually prefer the Studio look over Leaf (and don’t know enough to know if that would be classified as a hot take).

The Studio Preview set included 18 cards included 4-to-a-box in 1991 Donruss retail factory sets.

Juan Bell 1 unknown
Roger Clemens 2 unknown
Dave Parker 3 unknown
Tim Raines 4 unknown
Kevin Seitzer 5 unknown
Teddy Higuera 6 unknown
Bernie Williams 7 unknown
Harold Baines 8 unknown
Gary Pettis 9 unknown
David Justice 10 unknown
Eric Davis 11 unknown
Andjuar Cedeno 12 unknown
Tom Foley 13 unknown
Dwight Gooden 14 unknown
Doug Drabek 15 unknown
Steve Decker 16 unknown
Joe Torre (MGR) 17 unknown
Title Card NNO unknown

Leaf Previews

The Leaf Preview set was a good way to introduce new card designs. On top of that, the players selected were overall great choices. Out of the 26 players, 10 ultimately became hall of famers. And those that didn’t (e.g., David Justice, Bo Jackson) were (and still are) fan favorite among MLB fans at large, and particularly by their long-time team fans.

4 Leaf Preview cards were included in every specially marked 1991 Donruss hobby factory set box.

Player Name Card Number Card Count
David Justice 1 of 26 unknown
Ryne Sandberg 2 of 26 unknown
Barry Larkin 3 of 26 unknown
Craig Biggio 4 of 26 unknown
Ramon Martinez 5 of 26 unknown
Tim Wallach 6 of 26 unknown
Dwight Gooden 7 of 26 unknown
Lenny Dykstra 8 of 26 unknown
Barry Bonds 9 of 26 unknown
Ray Lankford 10 of 26 unknown
Tony Gwynn 11 of 26 unknown
Will Clark 12 of 26 unknown
Leo Gomez 13 of 26 unknown
Wade Boggs 14 of 26 unknown
Chuck Finley 15 of 26 unknown
Carlton Fisk 16 of 26 unknown
Sandy Alomar Jr. 17 of 26 unknown
Cecil Fielder 18 of 26 unknown
Bo Jackson 19 of 26 unknown
Paul Molitor 20 of 26 unknown
Kirby Puckett 21 of 26 unknown
Don Mattingly 22 of 26 unknown
Rickey Henderson 23 of 26 unknown
Tino Martinez 24 of 26 unknown
Nolan Ryan 25 of 26 unknown
Dave Stieb 26 of 26 unknown

Best of the Base Set

To be honest, there are a number of Hall of Fame Players in the 1991 Donruss set, but there were just so many cards produced that none of them are worth pursuing or getting excited about pulling (except for sentimental reasons perhaps). If you want to pick up base set cards, I would suggest just buying a factory set, or picking up several boxes if you prefer building sets the old-fashioned way.

Wesley Lyles

Wesley is a jack of all trades hobbyist. Though much of his spare time is spent playing board games (especially solo card games like Legendary), Hearthstone, Rocket League, and MLB The Show.e He also enjoys most sports, but pays way too much attention to baseball and football.

Recent Content

© 2020 Copyright Ludologists