Thursday, June 2, 2016

Anatomy of a Baseball Card: Tony Fernandez 1984 Donruss

One of the first Rated Rookies. 

Early on in my card collecting days, my younger brother decided to collect Tony Fernandez cards. These days, you really couldn't go wrong collecting Fernandez cards. Tony was an '80s star who made 5 All-Star teams and won a World Series with the Blue Jays in 1993. There weren't many card show dealers with cards of Fernandez in their display cases, and no Costacos Brothers posters could be found of the Blue Jays shortstop. For a household that hosted a Jose Canseco 40/40 poster, Fernandez certainly offered a more affordable collecting alternative, although I'm not sure to this day if even my brother could explain how he became a fan.

The d'84 series, as I like to call it now, represented the ultimate level of '80s baseball card monetary value. The packs cost several dollars. They were always high up on a shelf, out of reach of a teenager's grubby mitts. Tony's rookie card could fetch a few bucks back in the day, and you could convince an insurer that it's worth $2.00 today. Of course, you can snag one for just under a buck if you know what you're doing. I have no idea how I got this card, but I'm guessing it was at a card show in some dime box based on the fact that I found it in a box that was set aside for posts like these after starting this blog in 2008.

A few more notes:

  • According to the bio, Fernandez was sent "back to Triple A for 1 more year of seasoning." Sadly, this is terminology that seems to no longer exist in today's game.
  • This is the first year that "Rated Rookie" appears on the front of Donruss cards, but the iconic logo doesn't actually show up until 1985. A few 1983 Donruss cards got the "Rated Rookie" moniker on the back of the card, where it was barely noticed.
  • Fernandez was something of a nomad after his initial '80s stint with the Jays. He came back to the team in 1993 for their second World Series win, and then returned two more times for a total of four separate stints that must make Cardinals hitting coach John Mabry a little jealous. He also made the All-Star for the final time in his 17th (!) big league season.


  1. I pulled this card from a pack back in 1984 and was stoked. It was fun watching him during his years with the Blue Jays and Padres.

  2. Great post - I too remember the '84 Donruss being a bit out of my price range. Probably a pretty common problem for most 7-year-olds in 1984. I do remember scoring the Ron Darling Rated Rookie at a card show that year though. I believe the Tom Seaver was my first Seaver card as well.


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