There was something magical about pulling a Donruss Diamond King growing up. Perhaps as it was an early form of insert card…or “hit” for collectors – the fact it was so different than the traditional stock photography and crossed the lines of art and sports. Regardless most collectors from the 80′s have fond memories of the Diamond King subsets drawn masterfully by Dick Perez. It started in 1982 when Perez drew the first Diamond King set for a new company, Donruss, who was innovating while at the same time nodding back to the painted tobacco cards of yester-year.
Mr. Perez’s art is prominently displayed in the Baseball Hall of Fame today and he continues doing one-man art exhibits illustrating his love for America’s Pastime. Fast-Forward 30+ years and multiple card companies have attached themselves to inserting “Chase” One-of-One Original Art cards as “Hits” inside their packs. Many high-end products actually insert them frequently in what I deem a replacement to an autograph or game used material.
Now don’t get me wrong I respect some of the artists work you find on the mini-canvas…and given the dimensions of a baseball card the details can be quite impressive. But the ugly side of this practice is the sub-par art that can be found where the player is unrecognizable. The art that looks “rushed” or more than likely done in bulk fashion to meet time constraints. I would love to see 1/1 art cards go away….or at least the act of them modified.
Perhaps the cost would be prohibitive but what would the hobby pay for a true One-of-One Diamond King done by the Great Dick Perez??? Or what if the chases were done by recognizable Comic Book artists as a form of cross-promotion. Todd McFarlane, Jim Lee, Humberto Ramos, etc…Even if they were unheard of artists from say Pixar (Wall-E designers, etc….) putting a little bio on the back of the cards with who the artist is.
The whole concept of an art card is to make it very desirable and personable on some level. Help us get to know the artist the way we got to know Dick Perez. Perhaps then the Hobby will care more about them.
I’d love to hear other collectors thoughts. Until Next Time…..Happy Collecting!