1992 DONRUSS ELITE DWIGHT GOODEN
Donruss introduced the Elite insert set in 1991, and for the first few years of production, it lived up to its name.
The regular Donruss sets of the era were as overproduced as teenage hormones, but common wisdom holds that the early Elite cards were found just one in every 20 boxes.
The company serial numbered each card in the set, which only served to heighten the perceived scarcity. I’m looking at a 1993 price guide right now, and this Dwight Gooden (numbered 7,694 out of 10,000) booked for $65. Ken Griffey, Jr. and Frank Thomas would have set our grunge-era forebears back $200. That right there is a whole lot of Alice in Chains CDs…
The ironic thing about this particular card is that 1992 is the pivot point in Gooden’s career where he transitions from elite to merely ordinary. He won 132 games from 1984 through 1991, but racked up only 62 more wins over the next 9 years. He fell rapidly from superstar to star to semistar to New York common.
But as cool as this card is, and as deep as the pathos of Gooden’s career trajectory will always cut, I confess that I have an ulterior motive for posting this today.
Gooden is of course the last Mets pitcher to win the Cy Young award, and today I’m looking to visit a little positive mojo on R.A. Dickey’s quest to join him and Tom Seaver in the ranks of the team’s award-winning elite.
Best of luck, Robert Allen!