George Bell Diamond Kings, 1986 Donruss, #4
Ah, the classic Diamond Kings insert series by Donruss. Easily the most iconic cards in the Donruss series throughout the 1980’s, the Diamond Kings were paintings of a star from each team, done almost exclusively by Dick Perez, a baseball focused artist with works in the Baseball Hall of Fame. They were the first baseball cards to feature paintings as artwork since the 1956 Topps series.
While the cards did get a little more ridiculous as the decade went on, this George Bell card is actually a decent likeness and, at least for me, is the card that comes to mind when someone mentions the Diamond Kings series.
The write up on the back is fine, although I do strenuously object to the phrase “carried the Blue Jays for much of the year.” WTF? The 1985 Division Champions were not carried by George Bell. Do not get me wrong Bell had a very good year, but he was not even close to being the best position player on that team. Bell’s .275/.327/.429 line falls way short of Jesse Barfield’s stellar .289/.369/.536 numbers. Just look at their fWAR that year and Bell’s 3.8 looks forgettable when compared to Barfield’s monster 7.5. But they were not looking at WAR (obviously) nor OBP or SLG. Nope. George Bell had 95 RBI’s and Barfield only had 84 so therefore he, apparently, carried the team.
I am always happy to see the mention of San Pedro de Macoris, a town who produced plenty of key components of great Toronto teams of old including Bell, Manuel (Don’t Call Me Manny) Lee and the great Tony Fernandez. The town in the Dominican Republic has long been, and continues to be, a factory for major league talent including Sammy Sosa, Alfonso Soriano, Robinson Cano, Jose Valverde and Johnny Cueto.