Card of the Day: 1991 Donruss John Smiley

I’m sure many of you have already enjoyed my clever title for today’s daily history article. I have no idea if John Smiley has any Irish heritage, but what’s that saying about St Patrick’s Day? Everyone is Irish today. I’m more Irish than anything else according to my genealogy chart, but I grew up eating my Italian grandmother’s cooking often, while owning a German last name (my German % is very close to the Irish, but it’s still second). I told you that to tell you I’m not a very good Irish person, BUT I did buy a Simpsons shirt with green on it to wear today, so I’m trying. I’ll also be eating Irish soda bread today.

Speaking of green, I decided to make sure today’s article had a green card. I actually knew right away which one I wanted to use, but I almost made a game time decision to change it up because I saw another green border card for our subject. I almost changed it, but I didn’t. Today’s Card of the Day is #664 from the 1991 Donruss set. It features Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher John Smiley, who was not only born on this date, the Pirates also traded him on his 27th birthday. He provided a nice little St Patrick’s Day surprise that I didn’t know about until checking the back of this card.

Here’s the front of the card:

There’s John Smiley, not really enjoying my bit of humor with the history title. He has the same look as the guy on the Pirates logo. I guess that’s good, because that logo is up there among the best in team history. I believe that is pitching coach Ray Miller right behind him with the half-photobomb. You have to love that Pirates Starter jacket, perfect for Smiley in 1991, because he was their best starter.

Donruss really had some interesting card designs for a span in the late-80s/early-90s. I’m a huge fan of the 1987 Donruss set. That was their peak in my opinion. This particular year is just an odd looking design with no real attachment to baseball. It has an early 1990s feel to it, like you could probably guess when this design was put out within 1-2 years without any help. I wouldn’t say I hate the look, but I definitely do appreciate it more for St Patrick’s Day specific card choices. The aforementioned Pirates logo is always a welcomed addition.

Here’s the back of the card:

When I get a time machine, my important contribution to mankind will be going back to early 1982, so I could write a scathing review of the back of Donruss cards, suggesting that they never use this particular set-up again. They just rolled with ten years of very similar backs, which lacked full career stats or any minor league stats for guys with short MLB careers. I’ll be sure to mention that they need to keep the contract section, which will be an interesting comment, since they didn’t bring that featured along until 1983. You may ask, “Why not go back to 1983 instead?”, to which I respond, don’t tell me how to use my fictional time machine.

The surprise on the back that I mentioned up top is Smiley’s middle name. How great is it for him to be named John Patrick? It was definitely a sign to use him in today’s article on a green card, which oh by the way, also has a greenish back.

If you’re interested in this card, there are plenty of options for $2 delivered or less. There are four autographed copies for sale right now. Three of them have blue markers, which he signed on the jacket and they did not come out well. The other is written in a thin black marker, which came out great. It figures that the best one is the most expensive at $16.50, though it has a best offer option, so use it. None of the autographs are authenticated, so if you want one, check it against authenticated John Smiley signatures first.