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1997 Donruss: Hobby Box Review

Last week, I held a group break on my Facebook group break page for a box of 1997 Donruss.  I'm trying to keep my blog free of most group break "clutter" so if you are someone interested in group breaks I'd encourage you to join the Facebook group!  In fact, as further enticement, I should be ripping some 2022 product as part of group breaks in the near future (perhaps as early as next week) so check out the page!  

With the plug out of the way, let's get to today's review:

The 1997 Donruss hobby box contained 18 packs with 10 cards per pack.  The base set contains a total of 270 cards with a pair of full set parallels (Silver Press Proofs and Gold Press Proofs).  There are also a ton of inserts to track down though they are quite rare (the pack states that the overall odds for pulling any sort of insert is 1:4 packs)!

The base card design is quite nice which is good since the majority of a hobby box will be base cards (we only pulled five non-base cards in our box - I'll get to those in a moment).  I also have to say I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of photographs throughout the set.  I picked out a few of my favorites to scan but most of the photos were quite nice!  Maybe not quite to level of Stadium Club, but definitely better than your usual flagship photo selection, especially for the era.  

The backs of the cards are also nice, though I don't much care for the diagonal "vitals" text.  I do like the full career stats - and for players with a shorter career, there are brief write-ups on some card backs which is also a nice touch.

Now, on to the inserts and parallels.  We'll begin with a pair of Rated Rookies inserts.  

Baseballcardpedia.com says the Rated Rookies are seeded 1:6 packs which means we should have gotten three such cards in our box.  That being said, it's hard to know the insertion rates for sure since Donruss didn't list them on either the box or the pack wrappers.  

Next, a pair of parallels - both of the Silver Proofs type.

Unfortunately, the Dodgers were the one team to go unclaimed in the group break - though I guess I don't mind getting "stuck" with that Piazza!  The Silver Press proofs have a stated print run of 2000 copies each, though they are not individually numbered.  Baseballcardpedia puts the insertion rate for Silver Press Proofs at 1:8 packs so we were right on the money here.  Also, it's worth noting that these cards look quite nice in hand despite scanning like dog poo.

Our final card was the hit of the box:

That's a Elite Series card of Chipper Jones - seeded 1:144 packs if Baseballcardpedia is to be believed!  The Chipper is serially numbered 1220/2500 and is easily the best card of the box!

And with that, the box of 1997 Donruss is complete.  This is a kind of tough box to grade in some respects because it's mostly about the base cards, either you like the base design or you don't!  That being said, here are my scores for the box.

Overall, I give the 1997 Donruss (hobby) box the following rating:
Set Design:  A-
Collation:  F
Opening Thrill:  D
Overall:  C-

The collation hurt the box a lot - we ended up with plenty of duplicate base cards within the box which shouldn't happen for a set of this size.  Nothing pulls down the excitement of ripping packs from a box like getting duplicate after duplicate.  That all said, the set itself is quite nice - and while there aren't a ton of inserts, what does exist is also quite nice.  Unfortunately, if you make a set of cards that focuses mostly on base cards and then you pack a box with tons of duplicate base cards, it makes for a rather lackluster product overall.


  1. The Dodgers were the one team unclaimed because you're group-breaking on Facebook. I am not doing any card stuff on Facebook, I need to keep my worlds separate. ... Personally I consider your group-break posts among the most interesting posts on this blog.

    1. Yeah, I know not everyone uses or prefers Facebook. Unfortunately, I've found it nearly impossible to keep to active lists of claimed teams (one here and one on Facebook). It's inevitable that someone will claim team X here and someone else claim the same team over on Facebook and then I have to disappoint someone by saying team X was claimed elsewhere. Perhaps I can advertise group breaks here after my initial sign-up rush on Facebook is over, that might be a good compromise!

  2. If you don't intend on hanging onto the Jones I'll happily take it off your hands. I'm trying to put together the Elite series insert set and, well, only have one so far...

  3. This box was a group break box so the Jones is going to the Braves' team slot (which was claimed in the break). Sorry!

    1. You know what, I knew that it was for a break and I completely brain farted.... Work travel, what can I say

  4. Didn't get any of these since I was in college in 97 so most of my card budget was spent on the Star Trek and Star Wars CCGs. Thanks for the recap and pictures!

  5. I was definitely collecting in 1997... but gotta admit... I don't recognize the inserts or silver press proofs. I have stumbled across those base cards before though.


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