Card of the Day: 1985 Donruss Diamond Kings Tony Pena

Today’s Card of the Day is from the 1985 Donruss set. Starting in 1982, Donruss would include a Diamond Kings cards in their set, featuring one player from each team. The cards had artwork from Dick Perez, who is a famous artist, with many popular baseball pieces to his credit. The Pittsburgh Pirates were represented by Dave Parker in the 1982 set, followed by Willie Stargell in 1983 and Bill Madlock in 1984. Those cards will be covered here sometime in the future I’m sure, but today we look at the fourth year of Diamond Kings, which featured catcher Tony Pena.

Here’s the card, with artwork from Dick Perez

As you can see, Pena is sporting one of the classic pillbox caps, gold with black stripes and the black P in the middle, along with the matching gold top jersey. Each Diamond Kings card had a portrait shot, with a smaller action shot just off to the side. Pena is shown in full catcher gear, appearing to look up for a pop up as he gets out of his catching stance. It’s the same shot that Donruss used on their Action All-Star set, except that one is the actual photo. The 1985 Donruss borders were black with the red stripes at the bottom, which goes well with the background art for Pena’s card. The black borders make it a tougher set to find in high grade.

Here’s the back of the card:

The back of all of the Diamond King cards had a write-up on the player featured. This particular card sings the praises of the 27-year-old Pena, who batted .286 with 15 homers, 27 doubles, 77 runs scored and 78 RBIs during the 1984 season. He made his second All-Star appearance that year and won his second Gold Glove. Pena threw out 40% of base runners in 1984, well above the league average of 31% that year. That earned him the comment “whose rifle arm puts fear in opposing baserunners”. There was also a prediction that Pena would be a “Diamond King” for many years.

As it turned out, Pena peaked in 1984 with 5.9 WAR. He was still a strong player for a few years, but he never approached that WAR number after his best season. In fact, he had 15.1 WAR career through 1984, and 9.6 WAR total over his final 13 seasons. His 1985/86 seasons provided much of that value, while the other 11 years saw him put up just 2.3 WAR. So he wasn’t quite a Diamond King for many years, but he definitely deserved the honor in the 1985 set.

This card can be found cheap on Ebay. The 1985 Donruss set is difficult for a 1980s set, but not difficult to find overall. Multiple sellers have this card for less than $2, which includes delivery. That’s the same price as Pena’s regular card from the 1985 Donruss set.

Here are the previous Card of the Day articles. Eventually we will have a better way to organize them once we launch Pittsburgh Baseball History, as opposed to just a continuously growing list at the bottom of each article:

1913 T200 Fatima team card

2020 Topps Living Set Josh Bell

2020 Roberto Clemente Topps Throwback

1982 Topps Tim Foli

1887 N172 Old Judge Art Whitney and Dog

1973 Topps Willie Stargell

1981 Topps Pirates Future Stars

1936 R312 Honus Wagner and Arky Vaughan

1959 Topps Buc Hill Aces

1982 Donruss Harvey Haddix

1991 Upper Deck Jose Lind

1982 Topps Traded Pirates set

1974 Topps Bob Johnson

1909 E90 Dots Miller

2005 Bowman Heritage Andrew McCutchen

1961 Topps Gino Cimoli World Series Highlights

1969 Topps Richie Hebner/Al Oliver

1920 W516 Wilbur Cooper

1887 N172 Sam Barkley (guest submission)

1976 Topps Pie Traynor

2020 Topps 206 Roberto Clemente

1957 Topps Bill Mazeroski

1998 Topps Jose Guillen (guest submission)

1948 Bowman Ralph Kiner

1987 Donruss Opening Day Barry Bonds/Johnny Ray Error

1955 Bowman Frank Thomas

1982 Fleer Mike Easler

1984 Topps NL Career Batting Leaders: Bill Madlock/Dave Parker

1979 Hostess Willie Stargell

1933 Goudey Paul Waner

1888 N29 Allen & Ginter George Miller

1965 Topps Pirates Rookie Stars

1968 Topps Manny Sanguillen

1991 Topps Kurt Miller

2009 Topps Heritage Jack Wilson

1931 W517 Paul Waner

1993 Pinnacle Carlos Garcia

1982 Topps Pirates Team Leaders