At first glance, 1983 Donruss baseball cards looked to be identical to their 1982 predecessors when collectors first started pulling them from wax packs.

Same bat on the bottom with player name, same colored piping forming the interior border, same blazing white card stock.

But there were a few differences — a glove had replaced the baseball at the knob-end of the bat for displaying team name.

The player’s position was wrapped in a tranparent baseball instead of imprinted directly on the bat.

1983 Donruss Wax Pack

And the Donruss logo had beend moved from the upper right to the upper left.

So the 1982s and 1983s weren’t really the same at all (imagine an eyeroll emoji here).

And there was one other big difference — while everyone thought the 1982s were loaded with stellar rookies, it was the 1983s that ended up with three Hall of Fame RCs when all was said and done.

You can bet your puzzle pieces those first-year guys are part of this list of the most valuable 1983 Donruss baseball cards, but you’ll have to read on to find out who they — and the rest — are.

(Values culled from recent eBay sales for PSA 9 cards.)

Batter up!

(Check out our full series of posts on the history of Donruss baseball cards.)

1983 Donruss Tony Gwynn Rookie Card (#598)

1983 Donruss Tony Gwynn Rookie Card

A lot of what we said in our piece about 1983 Fleer will apply here, including this blurb about Gwynn, but in case you haven’t read that post …

The Gwynn rookie card trundled along without much notice for a year or so as the the hobby started to boom and as Tony got his feet under him in San Diego.

When the Padres stepped into the sun of the 1984 season looking like contenders, though, Gwynn led the charge with a gaudy batting average that would eventually win him the National League hitting crown.

Collectors took notice, and Gwynn’s RC moved from the stacks to the screw-downs in a heartbeat.

Today, the Gwynn rookie is a $30 buy in PSA 9 condition.

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1983 Donruss Ryne Sandberg Rookie Card (#277)

1983 Donruss Ryne Sandberg Rookie Card

At the same time the Pads were doing things they didn’t normally do, the 1984 Cubs were causing their own stir.

Chicago sat near the top of the old NL East for much of the season and eventually took out a young New York Mets team that dripped with talent — Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, Ron Darling, Lenny Dykstra, etc.

But the Cubbies had their own breakout stars, too, including midseason acquisition Rick Sutcliffe and young second baseman Ryne Sandberg.

After a year in Chicago following a trade from the Phils, Ryno locked himself in at second base and turned in an amazing performance that included 19 home runs, 19 triples, and a .319 batting average.

Dude ended up winning NL MVP honors, and collectors ended up scrambling to find his year-old rookie cards, just as with Gwynn.

Today, this Hall of Fame RC brings about $25 in graded MINT condition.

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1983 Donruss Wade Boggs Rookie Card (#586)

1983 Donruss Wade Boggs Rookie Card

By 1983, Boggs had already become Wade Boggs, Hit Machine.

His .361 average easily led the American League in 1983 and ensured that his fresh-from-the-pack rookie cards never saw the dark receses of a shoe box.

Boggs went on to win four more batting crowns, collect 3010 hits, and score an easy election to Cooperstown in 2005.

The ’83 Donruss rookie card of the lifetime .328 hitter is a $25 buy in PSA 8.

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1983 Donruss Cal Ripken Jr. (#279)

1983 Donruss Cal Ripken Jr

It’s hard to start a Major League Baseball career much better than what Ripken did…

I mean, all the lad did was win the 1982 AL Rookie of the Year Award and then lead the Orioles to a World Series title in 1983 as the AL MVP.

Ripken’s rookie season would also see him begin The Streak that would eventually put him in the same breath with Lou Gehrig and make Cal an all-time stone-cold diamond legend.

This second-year Cal card sells for around $15 in PSA 9.

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1983 Donruss Nolan Ryan (#118)

1983 Donruss Nolan Ryan

As this bright and colorful card, showcasing the Astros rainbow sleeve stripes, was popping out of wax packs across the land, Ryan was writing more baseball history.

Namely, he became the first of three pitchers — with Steve Carlton and Gaylord Perry — to surpass Walter Johnson‘s career record for strikeouts during that summer of 1983.

And, while many observers thought that achievement would be the capstone to a good but flawed career, Ryan wasn’t anywhere near done.

After another ten seasons in the Majors, the Ryan Express owned more records than you could shake a cowtail at, and he was a baseball god.

This card from one of Ryan’s big summers sells in the $15 area today (PSA 9).

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1983 Donruss Johnny Bench (#500)

1983 Donruss Johnny Bench

Baseball lost a lot of talent and lore in 1983 with the retirements of Perry (above), Yaz (below), and Bench.

And, while all three were bona fide Hall of Famers who left behind all sorts of sweet memories, only Bench could rightly be called the all-time best at his position.

Even today, Bench sits near the top of various career lists for catchers and is the general pick as baseball’s greatest-ever catcher.

This vital cog in the Big Red Machine lines up here at $10+ in PSA 9.

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1983 Donruss Carl Yastrzemski (#326)

1983 Donruss Carl Yastrzemski

How many Triple Crown winners have you seen in your lifetime?

The number is just one for me (Miguel Cabrera).

Baseball got back-to-back Triple Crowns in the 1960s, though, first from the great Frank Robinson (1966), then from Yaz (1967).

And, though a World Series ring eluded the Red Sox great throughout his career, Cooperstown was an easy win.

Today, this Donruss card from Yastrzemski’s final season sells for around $10 in PSA 9 condition.

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1983 Donruss Pete Rose (#42)

1983 Donruss Pete Rose

Rose played all 162 games for the Phillies at 41 years of age in 1982 and entered the new season with his sights set on 4000 hits.

Though he’d land ten safeties short of that mark, he did help the Phillies back to the World Series before moving on to the Expos and then the Reds in 1984.

From there, it was a clean shot to Ty Cobb and the Hall of Fame … well, at least to Cobb.

Even with his transgressions, Rose has a strong hobby following and checks in here at about $10 (PSA 9).

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1983 Donruss Julio Franco Rookie Card (#525)

1983 Donruss Julio Franco Rookie Card

Franco made his Major League debut for the Phillies in 1982, but he did’t get enough at-bats to qualify as a full-on rookie until 1983.

That came after an off-season trade that sent Franco, Jay Baller, Manny Trillo, George Vukovich, and Jerry Willard to the Indians in exchange for Von Hayes.

From there, Franco finished second in AL Rookie of the Year balloting (to Ron Kittle) on the strength of 32 stolen bases.

And from there?

Well, Franco turned into an interesting mix of speed and power, with enough “average” thrown in to win the AL batting title with Texas in 1991 (.341).

And … Franco … just … kept … going.

Until he was 48.

He finally finished up with the Braves in 2007, having amassed 2586 hits and a collection of eight franchises.

Sometimes, when the season gets late and teams get desperate, I think there might still be whispers about Franco coming back … again.

For now, his 1983 Donruss rookie card is a $5-10 buy in PSA 9.

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1983 Donruss Rickey Henderson (#35)

1983 Donruss Rickey Henderson

Henderson played almost forever, too, until he was 44 in 2003.

Before he got to eternity, though, Rickey broke Lou Brock‘s single-season mark for stolen bases by swiping 130 in 1982.

This card shows Henderson from that era, before he perfected the power stroke that added to his elite on-base skills to make him the greatest leadoff hitter ever.

And, yeah, it wouldn’t be all that shocking to see Henderson mount a comeback, either.

In the meantime, his 1983 Donruss card sells for about $5 in slabbed MINT condition.

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