Breaks From The Past: Unearthing The Hidden Gem That Is 1983 Donruss Hall of Fame Heroes

February 3, 2023

I love the smell of old wax in the morning. Or really, any time. I’m always looking for some older unopened material to break and explore.

If you enjoy this kind of thing too, check out our two prior editions of “Breaks from the Past”, where we opened boxes of 1996 Best Franchise Player Signature Edition and 1994 Classic Best Gold.

Today, we dip even further into the past as we’ll be exploring 1983 Donruss Hall of Fame Heroes.

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1983 Donruss Hall of Fame Heroes Baseball: What is it?

The 1983 Donruss Hall of Fame Heroes set was released by Donruss in 1983 in wax box form. The complete set is only 44 cards, but the release format was wax boxes of 38 packs with 8 cards each.

That of course means that each box could contain close to seven complete sets, with perfect collation.  That’s a LOT of duplicates in a box. Interesting packaging decisions from Donruss.

Each pack also contains a 3-piece puzzle card. The 63-piece puzzle features New York Yankees icon Mickey Mantle.

The checklist consists of 42 Hall of Famers, plus a card representing the completed Mickey Mantle puzzle, and a checklist.

The cards all feature the artwork of Dick Perez, the artist made famous for his work on the Donruss Diamond Kings subset for many years.

There aren’t a ton of unopened wax boxes still out there, but they are very reasonable to acquire. I paid just under $40 delivered for the box.

Why did I buy a 1983 Donruss Hall of Fame Heroes box?

So, what motivated me to buy a 40-year-old obscure wax box that contains a rather small set, no inserts, parallels, or autographs?

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Regular readers will know that the Hall of Fame is kind of my thing. The old Diamond Kings that Donruss produced in the 1980s and 1990s bring me back, so it was appealing to see the artwork of Dick Perez here.

In addition, the PSA population report had some interesting info on it. The entire set has a PSA population of only 801 graded examples. The most graded card in the set is the Mickey Mantle #7 card, which has been graded 117 times. Other cards have lower populations, with some below 10 total graded copies in existence.

While 1983 Donruss Hall of Fame Heroes doesn’t appear to sell for much when graded by PSA, they don’t come available very often and may have some upside graded. If not, they’re a very cool and somewhat rare addition to a graded card collection.

On a side note, 957 copies of cards from this set have been submitted to PSA DNA for autograph authentication. Turns out, these are awesome cards to get autographed.

A good number of the players pictured were still alive in 1983 (and for a number of years after). Many of these players have passed on at this point, but if you’re an autograph collector, signed copies of these cards are worth hunting for.

I figured I’d see if any of these are gradable, and maybe submit a few. I was also thinking about building a set to put in a binder. Binder sets can be fun to flip through. Beyond that, I imagined selling off a few sets or singles/lots to offset the (admittedly minimal) investment I had in the box.

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1983 Donruss Hall of Fame Heroes break results and notes

A few thoughts and observations while opening the box:

  • The collation of the box was generally pretty good, although there were shockingly few Ted Williams in my box. That was a bummer for this Red Sox fan, and killed any thoughts of building a large number of sets.
  • All the Mickey Mantle #7 cards were not gradable, due to a bit of an issue on the right edge of every copy. I imagine this was due to some issue with the uncut sheet they were printed on or the process of cutting them apart. Clearly, this isn’t a universal problem, as this is the most graded card in the set.
  • These cards are fun, for sure…there are some iconic Hall of Famers, including some old-timers you don’t see very often, such as Cy Young, Joe Cronin, and Christy Mathewson.
  • A couple of interesting misses from the checklist are Willie Mays and Babe Ruth. They are typically considered near the top of the list of greatest players ever, so their exclusion from the set was an odd choice. Perhaps a contractual issue?
  • Several of these do look gradable. I’ll probably submit a few to PSA and see how they do, and if they grade highly, send a few more. I think the first sub would likely include Jackie Robinson, Ted Williams, and the Mickey Mantle puzzle card.
  • As for the others? I did build myself a set to put in a binder with a few other sets that are enjoyable to flip through. I also built a second set and shared it with a collecting friend.
  • Beyond that, I’ll probably list the rest on eBay in 2-card lots of each card. It’ll be interesting to see if folks are interested in these oddball cards from 40 years ago.
  • I’ll also list a complete Mantle puzzle and the wax wrappers on eBay. If someone will enjoy them, hopefully, they’ll find my reasonably priced listings.

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Thoughts on the value of the 1983 Donruss Hall of Fame Heroes break

Overall, this was a fun box to break, sort, and explore. The low purchase price means that there wasn’t a lot of risk involved. One could argue that just the entertainment value: opening the packs, reading the card backs, sorting the cards, building a couple of sets, and looking for grading candidates – was worth the purchase price.

If we submit a few of these cards to PSA and they grade out, they’ll bring some potential value. They’ll also be cool additions of Hall of Famers to my collection, and a great reminder of this fun break.

There’s a good chance that whatever odds and ends listed on eBay more or less cover the cost of the box, which is never a bad thing.

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Final Thoughts on 1983 Donruss Hall of Fame Heroes Set

This was a fun little break. Yeah, the small set meant seeing the same cards over and over, but they were all Hall of Famers! Have thoughts on 1983 Donruss Hall of Fame Heroes? Like breaking old wax? Tell us about it  at card_lines on Twitter.

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1983 Donruss Hall of Fame Heroes Checklist

  • 1 Ty Cobb
  • 2 Walter Johnson
  • 3 Christy Mathewson
  • 4 John Gibson
  • 5 Honus Wagner
  • 6 Jackie Robinson
  • 7 Mickey Mantle
  • 8 Luke Appling
  • 9 Ted Williams
  • 10 Johnny Mize
  • 11 Satchel Paige
  • 12 Lou Boudreau
  • 13 Jimmie Foxx
  • 14 Duke Snider
  • 15 Monte Irvin
  • 16 Hank Greenberg
  • 17 Roberto Clemente
  • 18 Al Kaline
  • 19 Frank Robinson
  • 20 Joe Cronin
  • 21 Burleigh Grimes
  • 22 Paul Waner The Waner Brothers
  • Lloyd Waner
  • 23 Grover Alexander
  • 24 Yogi Berra
  • 25 Cool Papa Bell
  • 26 Bill Dickey
  • 27 Cy Young
  • 28 Charlie Gehringer
  • 29 Dizzy Dean
  • 30 Bob Lemon
  • 31 Red Ruffing
  • 32 Stan Musial
  • 33 Carl Hubbell
  • 34 Hank Aaron
  • 35 John McGraw
  • 36 Bob Feller
  • 37 Casey Stengel
  • 38 Ralph Kiner
  • 39 Roy Campanella
  • 40 Mel Ott
  • 41 Robin Roberts
  • 42 Early Wynn
  • 43 Mickey Mantle Puzzle Card
  • 44 Checklist