Card of the Day: 1994 Triple Play Joel Johnston

Today’s Card of the Day is both a first for the featured player, and first for the featured set. We have never looked at a card of pitcher Joel Johnston. We have also never covered the 1994 Triple Play set. This 300-card set was put out by Donruss. It was their third and final offering under the Triple Play name. It was a rather straight forward set, though it included a total of 33 insert cards from three different subsets.

Johnston played two partial seasons for the Kansas City Royals, before coming over to the Pittsburgh Pirates in a trade for Jose Lind. He was still technically a rookie for the 1993 Pirates. His big league debut season in 1991 saw him reel off an incredible run of one earned run over 22.1 innings. His 1992 season was completely opposite, with four runs over 2.2 innings in five games. His 1993 season with the Pirates was the best of his career. He had a 3.38 ERA in 53.1 innings over 33 appearances, finishing with two saves and a 1.07 WHIP.

For a time, it looked like the Pirates had themselves a bullpen piece for the future. That’s when this card came out. While he wasn’t a collectible rookie due to being a middle reliever, he was probably someone who you liked getting in your pack back then before the 1994 season. His peak came with a massive free-fall after one season. His big league career after 1993 amounted to 7.1 innings and 17 runs allowed. Today’s his 56th birthday, so we celebrate the man who put together a nice season out of the bullpen for the 1993 Pirates. Here’s card #184 from the 1994 Donruss Triple Play set.

Here’s the front of the card:

This card came out right when everyone was joining the borderless photo look, so a lot of sets from the early 90s look the same. There’s also the matter of there being a lot of sets produced at that time. Donruss had six of their own sets that year. I’m a fan of the look here. They got a great photo of Johnston in the road grays at Wrigley Field. I like what they did with the name on the front. It has a shadow look, but you can also see right through it at the same time. I’ll never not like a set including a Pirates logo on the front, especially that particular logo.

What I’m not too keen on here is the lack of anything besides his last name. No first name or no position. The team name is optional with that logo so prominent, but you’ll see why it matters a little bit once you get to the back section. I don’t particularly like the set logo either. There, I said it. It’s too busy, distracts a little from the rest. It’s better suited for the back. Speaking of the back…

Here’s the back of the card:

Well, I guess I should have been more clear. The logo is better suited for only the back. Why is it in the player picture again? There’s clearly a better spot for it in that right side corner. Look at that corner, nothing going on there.

I like the second photo. That’s always appreciated, especially when they get an entirely different uniform there. I want that windbreaker or whatever it is he’s wearing. Looks like a garbage bag with a Pirates logo, but I’d wear it. I always appreciate when the stats/bio are black writing on a white background. That faded Pirates logo in the background is a very nice touch. You might not notice it here, but the border at the bottom and the lettering for his name at the top is specific to the Pirates. In fact, the gold on front is also for the Pirates. One thing I noticed here is that Donruss never mentions “Pittsburgh” on the card.

The pricing section is a quick one. Don’t pay more than $2 delivered for this card. There are sellers with it for more because they charge too much shipping for one card. There aren’t many cards listed individually from this set per player (unless it’s a star), and there are zero sold copies of Johnston in the last three months on Ebay.