Memory Lane: 1992 Donruss John Vander Wal

Vanderwal Donruss

It was 1992, and baseball card fever had taken hold on me and my friends. Now, granted, I wasn’t spending as much on my cards as my friends; after all, I was a burgeoning music lover whose tastes were erased and rewritten by Nirvana, but I was doing just fine for myself, with an occasional “donation” from my parents. As a matter of aesthetics, I had begun to eschew the crappy card stock of Topps, Donruss, and Fleer in favor of the headier atmosphere of Leaf, Score, and Upper Deck in 1991. In my mind, there really was no comparison, even if I was paying more for the packs. I can see now the slippery slope that began in 1988 with the Score issue and how it rolled into this obsession of mine.

You see, I’ve always had this desire to have the “definitive version” of something. Rather than amassing many versions of things, I want to buy something once, and am willing to pay a premium to get the “best” thing. This particular weakness manifests in DVDs, but it also crept into my card collecting. I didn’t just need a bunch of Griffey rookies, I needed one 1989 Upper Deck. I didn’t need a bunch of Frank Thomas rookies, I just needed the 1990 Leaf. And so on.
So when I saw the shiny foil packaging of 1992 Donruss I was pretty skeptical: was this an attempt to pretty up a lame product?
No, I was pleasantly surprised; the 1992 Donruss set featured excellent photography, good thick card stock, and an informative back. I decided I had to put the set together.
I never did succeed, but I remember distinctly having the Vander Wal card and thinking that it was a pretty lame Rated Rookie in a sea of better Rated Rookies (for the time): Todd Van Poppel, Dave Nilsson, D.J. Dozier, Jim Thome, John Jaha, Dan Wilson, and Lance Dickson.
Funny how prospects work out, huh?

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