30 Most Valuable 1990 Donruss Baseball Cards

Written By Ross Uitts

Last Updated: May 15, 2024
1990 Donruss Baseball Cards

Growing up collecting these as a kid, the 1990 Donruss baseball cards were some of my favorites of the era.

Some collectors never liked the red design but I have always been a fan...

Either way, there's no questioning that these cards are instantly recognizable.

The set is loaded with stars and Hall of Famers of the day, but are any of them really worth much anymore?

In this guide, we take a look at the 30 most valuable 1990 Donruss baseball cards.

Let's jump right in!

1990 Donruss #23 Juan Gonzalez Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Value (Reverse Negative): $500

Estimated PSA 10 Value (Regular): $50

Gonzalez was one of the most feared hitters of his era and seemed like a lock for 40+ homers and 100+ RBI every season.

His rookie card in this set appears in two forms: one with a correct image of him batting right-handed and another in which the negative was reversed, making it appear he's batting lefty.

The reverse negative version is far more valuable since it is rarer and can sell for hundreds of dollars in a PSA 10 holder.

Even though he isn't a Hall of Famer, his status as one of the biggest superstars of the era makes the regular version valuable in top condition, too.

1990 Donruss #33 Juan Gonzalez Rookie Card
1990 Donruss #33 Reverse Negative Juan Gonzalez Rookie Card

1990 Donruss #4 Ken Griffey Jr. Diamond Kings

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $225

Donruss has always been famous for its "Diamond Kings" subsets that featured some of the game's top players in any given year.

Cards #1-26 in this set highlight a top player from every MLB team, with Ken Griffey Jr. representing the Mariners.

The reverse of the card discusses Griffey's setback that he suffered during his rookie campaign in 1989 while also pointing out just how promising of a five-tool talent he was.

We all knew back then that "The Kid" was destined for greatness.

It was just a question of how high he would climb.

1990 Donruss #4 Diamond Kings Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball Card
1990 Donruss #4 Diamond Kings Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball Card Reverse Side

1990 Donruss #1 Bo Jackson Diamond Kings

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $150

Bo Jackson's "Diamond Kings" card was the first card in this set, likely because of how popular he was at the time.

He had just appeared in his first MLB All-Star game the year before and his reputation as a two-sport superstar was as hot as ever.

Perez's fingerprints are once again all over this card with his beautifully-created artwork depicting the legendary Bo Jackson in his Royals uniform.

The reverse of the card mentions that Jackson's baseball career was clearly on an upward trajectory and that he might be able to do even more on the baseball field if he were to give up football.

Unfortunately, he'd fall to injury during an NFL game against the Bengals in January 1991, derailing both his football and baseball careers forever.

1990 Donruss #1 Diamond Kings Bo Jackson Baseball Card
1990 Donruss #1 Diamond Kings Bo Jackson Baseball Card Reverse Side

1990 Donruss #61 Bo Jackson

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $125

1990 was the height of Bo Jackson’s two-sport superstardom.

The Kansas City Royals outfielder and LA Raiders running back was a cultural phenomenon.

And his quest to take over both the baseball and football worlds captivated casual and hardcore fans alike.

Jackson’s problem, as you might expect, was injuries.

The physical demands of an all-year athletic career, coupled with the violent hits he absorbed on the gridiron, eventually proved too much.

In ‘90, a shoulder injury cost him 38 games during what would stand as his best MLB season.

The 27-year-old hit .272 for 75-win Kansas City with a .866 OPS.

His 28 homers and 70 RBIs in 456 plate appearances were impressive.

His 128 strikeouts in 405 at-bats were less so.

Jackson had all the momentum in the world heading into the 1990 NFL season.

With the public narrative surrounding his two-sport odyssey shifted into a positive light, the Raiders RB grabbed his first-and-only Pro Bowl nod.

Sadly, it all crashed to earth when Jackson suffered a hip injury in the team’s AFC Divisional Round win over the Cincinnati Bengals.

The injury proved a career-ender.

Jackson never again played an NFL down.

The Royals dumped him onto waivers in March 1991, scared off by avascular necrosis diagnosis and a lack of progress with his rehab.

1990 Donruss #61 Bo Jackson Baseball Card

1990 Donruss #659 Nolan Ryan 5000 K's

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $125

The 1990 Topps baseball card set went to great lengths to pay tribute to Nolan Ryan's achievement of surpassing the 5,000 career strikeout mark.

But, Donruss had a tribute of their own, albeit less flashy.

Card #659 in the set features Ryan in his Rangers uniform with a yellow star next to his name at the top and "5,000 K's" written in cursive along the bottom.

Like his "King of Kings" card, this one can also be found with different variations of the reverse side.

1990 Donruss #659 5000 Strikeouts Tribute Nolan Ryan Baseball Card
1990 Donruss #659 5000 Strikeouts Tribute Nolan Ryan Baseball Card Reverse Side

1990 Donruss #665 Nolan Ryan King of Kings

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $70

Famed artist, Dick Perez, created the artwork for this wonderful tribute to Nolan Ryan dubbed the "King of Kings" card.

You can actually find this card in three different forms, all having to do with variations of the reverse side.

The correct back features the correct card number (#665) as well as a write-up about Ryan.

Another version is missing the number 665.

And the third version actually contains the back of another Ryan card in the set, card #659, which is Donruss's tribute to him reaching the 5,000 strikeout milestone.

1990 Donruss #665 King of Kings Nolan Ryan Baseball Card
1990 Donruss #665 King of Kings Nolan Ryan Baseball Card Reverse Side

1990 Donruss #166 Nolan Ryan

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $60


1990 Donruss #166 Nolan Ryan Baseball Card

1990 Donruss #365 Ken Griffey Jr.

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $60

Ken Griffey Jr. was always a key to any late '80s or early '90s set and this one is no exception.

Shown kneeling in his Mariners uniform, it's not his most exciting card you can own.

But, that didn't stop collectors from tearing through packs in search of it back in the day.

Ever since Griffey's induction into the Hall of Fame and the explosion of the card market in general, collectors have been back on the hunt for his cards, pushing their values up substantially in the process.

1990 Donruss #365 Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball Card

1990 Donruss #650 Bo Jackson All-Star

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $50

Bo Jackson was one of the most popular athletes in the world at the time having gained notoriety for being a two-sport star across baseball and football.

1989 was particularly a great year for him as it would be the one and only time he'd make an MLB All-Star team.

So, by the time the 1990 Donruss set was released, his was one of the most sought after cards.

This guy was a hero to kids of that era and his popularity remains high to this day.

1990 Donruss #650 All-Star Bo Jackson Baseball Card

1990 Donruss #86 Tony Gwynn

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $45


1990 Donruss #86 Tony Gwynn Baseball Card

1990 Donruss #126 Barry Bonds

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $45

The 1990 season was Barry Bonds's first awards breakthrough, a breathtaking culmination of a life spent in and around the game.

The son of three-time All-Star Bobby Bonds and the godson of the immortal Willie Mays, Bonds came from baseball royalty.

He had the attitude to match.

The marriage between the young left fielder and the Pirates faithful was always contentious.

Fans raged at Bonds' perceived lack of effort and swagger, and his me-first mentality rubbed plenty of people the wrong way.

None of this mattered in 1990, though.

With a historic flourish, Bonds became the first player in MLB history to bat .300 (.301) with at least 30 home runs (34), 100 RBIs (114), 100 runs scored (114), and 50 stolen bases (52).

Bonds also addressed the holes in his defensive game to win his first of eight Gold Glove awards.

He did it all.

And he did it better than anyone else in the National League, running away with his first NL MVP award on 23 of a possible 24 first-place votes.

And then, the postseason happened.

The 95-win Pirates cracked three runs just once in a tense six-game NLCS loss to the eventual World Series champion Cincinnati Reds.

Bonds went just 3-for-18 on the series with six walks and an RBI.

1990 Donruss #126 Barry Bonds Baseball Card

1990 Donruss #144 George Brett

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $45

George Brett looked washed up in the first half of the 1990 MLB season.

The Hall-of-Fame Kansas City Royals third baseman got off to an alarming start, hitting just two home runs with a pedestrian .267 batting average in the first half.

The pop appeared to be used up.

And Brett’s bat speed was noticeably slowed, a factor that attributed to his career-worst 63 strikeouts.

It looked like the 37-year-old was on his last legs.

(Appearances can be deceiving).

Whatever Brett did to rejuvenate himself during the All-Star break worked like a charm.

He sizzled from July through September, lifting a depleted Royals squad to a near-.500 record in the second half.

Altogether, Brett hit .388 with 12 home runs after the break.

The oomph returned, and the swing was just as sweet and violent as it had been at his peak.

Remarkably, Brett’s late-season heroics rocketed him up the AL charts to a second-and-final batting title (.329).

Finishing seventh in the league’s MVP race, the legend’s 1990 campaign was ultimately his final brush with baseball greatness. 

1990 Donruss #144 George Brett Baseball Card

1990 Donruss #190 Don Mattingly

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $45

Just over three months after inking a five-year, $19.3 million extension, soon-to-be New York Yankees captain Don Mattingly found himself in an unenviable position.

Bedeviled by chronic back problems all season long (and all career long), Mattingly was confronted by manager Stump Merrill before a July 26th showdown with Nolan Ryan and the Texas Rangers.

"I said, 'You're hurt. Let's have a talk,'" Merrill said. "He was honest. He said he was coming in to see me anyway. He couldn't play tonight, as much as he wanted to."

This kind of thing was uncharacteristic of Mattingly.

His willingness to play through pain was a defining part of his Yankee career.

And considering that Ryan was seeking his 300th win at New York's expense, the decision had extra weight.

Mattingly missed most of New York's remaining games, returning for a brief cameo late in the year.

Overall, he had his worst season as a pro, hitting .256 with a .643 OPS, five home runs, and 42 RBIs in 428 plate appearances (394 at-bats).

Injuries were a recurring theme in Mattingly's career, casting a shadow over what could have been a surefire Hall-of-Fame career in the mid-to-late 1980s.

1990 Donruss #190 Don Mattingly Baseball Card

1990 Donruss #201 Ozzie Smith

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $45


1990 Donruss #201 Ozzie Smith Baseball Card

1990 Donruss #96 Cal Ripken Jr.

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $40

In the National League, Ozzie Smith got all the headlines for his wizardry at short.

In the American League, Cal Ripken Jr. was doing him one better without receiving the credit he deserved.

The Baltimore Orioles superstar had a solid enough year at the plate in 1990.

He slashed .250/.341/.415 with 21 home runs, 28 doubles, four triples, 82 walks, 78 runs scored, and 84 RBIs in 161 games.

It was in the field, though, where Ripken made magic.

He was the closest thing to a sure out in Major League history, committing a microscopic three errors in 680 chances, including a 428-chance errorless streak.

The 29-year-old’s .996 fielding percentage at the six was the best in the annals of baseball.

So, how did the eight-time All-Star and down-ballot MVP candidate get snubbed for a Gold Glove?

Chicago White Sox star Ozzie Guillen took home the honors, likely because Ripken’s year was more steady than flashy.

It’s a shame.

The most impressive defensive effort by a shortstop in MLB lore went unrewarded, as highlight-reel oohs and ahhs won out over record-breaking brilliance.

1990 Donruss #96 Cal Ripken Jr. Baseball Card

1990 Donruss #125 Jose Canseco

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $40

Well before the start of the “steroid era,” Jose Canseco was the first player to find himself in the anti-PED crosshairs of the press.

At the end of the Athletics’ third AL West championship season, Washington Post baseball writer Thomas Boswell called Canseco “the most conspicuous example of a player that made himself great with steroids.”

The charges against Canseco were unsubstantiated and unclear.

Many in the game stood behind the hulking slugger, calling Boswell out for unethical journalistic practices.

Canseco also vehemently denied the allegations.

“It’s just not true,” Canseco said. “It was an ignorant statement, and I usually don’t pay attention to ignorant statements.”

While we know how this all played out, it was still an untimely black mark after a fantastic Canseco season.

The A’s right fielder finished 12th in the league MVP race, grabbing his fourth All-Star nod and second Silver Slugger.

He ended the year slashing .274/.371/.543 with 37 home runs, 14 doubles, two triples, 83 runs scored, 72 walks, 19 stolen bases, and 101 RBIs in 563 plate appearances (481 at-bats).

The steroid label dogged Canseco throughout the playoffs.

During the team’s four-game sweep of Boston, Red Sox fans jeered him to no end.

Canseco hit just .182 through the madness, following it up with a dismal 1-for-12 showing in the team’s four-game World Series loss to Cincinnati.

1990 Donruss #125 Jose Canseco Baseball Card

1990 Donruss #427 Deion Sanders Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $40


1990 Donruss #427 Deion Sanders Rookie Card

1990 Donruss #705 Tony Gwynn All-Star

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $40


1990 Donruss #705 All-Star Tony Gwynn Baseball Card

1990 Donruss #269 Kirby Puckett

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $35


1990 Donruss #269 Kirby Puckett Baseball Card

1990 Donruss #304 Rickey Henderson

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $35

Check prices on: Amazon

Considering how dominant Rickey Henderson was, I'm surprised that he won only one MVP award.

He was an absolute monster on the base paths, going on to become the game's all-time leader in stolen bases and runs scored.

But, he could also hit for power, too.

The excitement he brought to the game made him one of the most popular players of his day and his status as one of the game's all-time greats helps keep the value of this card respectable in top condition.

1990 Donruss #304 Rickey Henderson Baseball Card

1990 Donruss #578 Larry Walker Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $35

Check prices on: Amazon

I used to love watching Larry Walker play because he was so well-rounded.

He was dangerous at the plate and was a terrific outfielder as well.

His 1997 MVP season in which he had 49 home runs, 143 runs scored, 130 RBI and a .363 batting average was one of the best seasons for any player that I can remember witnessing.

It's a shame he barely missed out on the Triple Crown that year.

His 1990 Donruss rookie card isn't the most expensive in the set but it still holds a little value in top grade.

1990 Donruss #578 Larry Walker Rookie Card

1990 Donruss #68 Wade Boggs

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $30


1990 Donruss #68 Wade Boggs Baseball Card

1990 Donruss #105 Ryne Sandberg

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $30

As the Cubs dropped like a rock, Ryne Sandberg turned in the best individual effort of his Hall-of-Fame career.

After a 30-homer season in 1989, Sandberg followed up with a 40-bomb in 1990, becoming the first second baseman to post back-to-back years of 30 or more home runs.

He also became the first second baseman to lead the NL in home runs since Rogers Hornsby (1925).

Sandberg was an MVP-level force from Opening Day, even as the Cubs failed to capitalize on the previous year's division title.

Headed into a home-field All-Star-Game, Ryno led all NL players in fan votes.

With the Midsummer Classic held at Wrigley, Sandberg was fated to start at second.

Not only that, but he also took the Home Run Derby in front of a delirious home crowd.

Things got hotter from there.

The Cubs' pitching may have doomed them to 77 wins and a fourth-place finish, but Sandberg made them must-watch TV.

He led the NL in homers, runs scored (116), and total bases (344).

He posted his first-and-only season with a .900 OPS or better (.913) and joined Jose Canseco and Hank Aaron as the only members of the 40/25 club with his 25th stolen base.

Wait, there's more.

The fourth-place MVP finisher reinforced his position as the era's best defensive second baseman, snagging his eighth consecutive Gold Glove thanks to an MLB-record 123-game errorless streak.

1990 Donruss #105 Ryne Sandberg Baseball Card

1990 Donruss #168 Dale Murphy

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $30


1990 Donruss #168 Dale Murphy Baseball Card

1990 Donruss #704 David Justice Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $30

Why exactly was Dale Murphy expendable?

The answer, simply, is David Justice.

A natural right fielder, Justice took his lumps in parts of six minor-league seasons.

Regardless of his periodic struggles, Justice’s potential was easy to see.

He had the natural power and high-level athleticism that would play in the Bigs.

All he needed was some time and fine-tuning.

By 1990, it was Justice’s time.

The problem was that Murphy was still entrenched in right.

Rather than moving the veteran off his spot, manager Russ Nixon kept the holding pattern going and started Justice at first.

Nixon was eventually fired after a 25-40 start, opening the door for the legendary Bobby Cox.

Just a few weeks after Cox was hired, Murphy was gone, and Justice was the Braves’ new starting right fielder.

Regardless of where he slotted in for the hapless Braves, Justice was the top hitter in the 1990 debut class.

A near-unanimous choice for NL Rookie of the Year, Justice slashed .282/.373/.535 with 28 homers, 23 doubles, 11 stolen bases, 76 runs scored, and 78 RBIs in 127 games.

1990 Donruss #704 David Justice Rookie Card

1990 Donruss #184 Roger Clemens

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $25


1990 Donruss #184 Roger Clemens Baseball Card

1990 Donruss #185 Mark McGwire

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $25

Mark McGwire will never be remembered for his glove work.

As he chased down and obliterated the single-season home run record, McGwire was a mediocre first baseman at best.

So, perhaps it will be surprising to most that McGwire won a Gold Glove in 1990.

McGwire was more graceful and athletic than in the “Steroid Era.”

He had great awareness and the ability to seal close plays with digs and stretches.

It was just another wrinkle to his MVP-caliber game, and it provided an embarrassment of riches to an Oakland A’s franchise thinking dynasty.

At the plate, McGwire made up for a slight .235 average with elite pop (39 homers, 108 RBIs) and the best eye in baseball.

He led the Majors with 110 walks, the first of five seasons in which he would surpass 100 free passes.

Finishing 11th in the league’s MVP race, the four-time All-Star followed up his big-time regular season with a quiet postseason run.

He went just 2-for-17 against Boston in the ALCS and followed that up with a sleepy 3-for-14 effort in the team’s World Series loss.

1990 Donruss #185 Mark McGwire Baseball Card

1990 Donruss #489 Sammy Sosa Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $25

Sosa's career got off to a slow start so I don't remember many collectors going crazy for this card when it was first released.

But as his career progressed and the home runs kept piling up, he turned into one of the most popular players in the league.

And, even though his reputation may forever be damaged by the PED controversy, his 1990 Donruss rookie still has its place among Sosa fans. 

1990 Donruss #489 Sammy Sosa Rookie Card

1990 Donruss #689 Bernie Williams Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $25

Signed by the New York Yankees on his 17th birthday, Bernie Williams essentially learned how to play baseball in the Yankees organization.

That’s not to say he wasn’t a fantastic talent before that.

In his native Puerto Rico, Williams dazzled scouts with his sizeable frame and raw abilities.

It’s why the Yankees took a shot on him in the first place.

Williams truly figured himself out, though, in the Yankees system.

By 1990, the young center fielder regularly added to his game with a studious glee, including finding his niche as a switch-hitter.

During his time with Albany-Colonie in the Double-A Eastern League, Williams tested out hitting left while playing Wiffle ball for fun.

In doing so, he learned he had a knack for swinging from both sides and immediately informed manager Buck Showalter.

Showalter signed off on the switch-hitting experiment.

It proved to be a signature addition to the arsenal of the future five-time All-Star.

Williams hit .281 on the year with a .823 OPS, eight homers, and 54 RBIs.

He also stole 39 bases and played immaculate ball in center field.

He came out of the year as the Eastern League’s #2 prospect and kept climbing.

One of the finest switch-hitters of the 1990s and early August, Williams averaged over 25 homers per year for the Yankees from 1996 to 2001.

1990 Donruss #689 Bernie Williams Rookie Card

1990 Donruss #711 John Olerud Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $25

In 1989, John Olerud informed MLB teams not to select him in the upcoming draft, opting to return to Washington State for his senior season.

The Toronto Blue Jays weren’t so sure that Olerud was sure.

Rather than heeding his warning, the Jays selected him in the third round of the 1989 MLB Draft.

The 20-year-old stuck to his guns, declining a record $400,000 bonus to sign with the club.

Toronto’s front office persisted, though, offering Olerud the opportunity to join the big-league club right away on a three-year deal.

The WSU star relented and put pen to paper.

After six games in 1989, Olerud settled in as a platoon DH option and first baseman Fred McGriff’s backup.

It soon became clear why the Jays went through all that trouble to sign him.

Olerud was the cream of the rookie crop in the first half of the 1990 season.

While he tapered off late in the year, he was clearly a prized puzzle piece for a second-place Jays team ready to make a future championship push.

Finishing fourth in the AL Rookie of the Year balloting, Olerud ended 1990 with a .265/.364/.430 slash line, 14 homers, 15 doubles, 43 runs scored, and 48 RBIs in 111 games.

1990 Donruss #711 John Olerud Rookie Card

Valuable 1990 Donruss Parallel Sets

Along with the regular base set, Donruss released several different parallel and test issues in 1990.

Some are more desirable than others but each has a unique story.

And depending on the card and player, some can be worth hundreds of dollars or more...

Aqueous Test

The images on the fronts of these cards were the exact same as the base set but the fronts themselves had a glossy coating to them and the reverse sides show an "Aqueous Test" label.

There were 264 cards in total and they are highly desirable to this day.

In fact, many can go for hundreds of dollars depending on the player and I've even seen a Juan Gonzalez reverse negative rookie go for more than $1,000.

1990 Donruss Aqueous Test Ryne Sandberg Baseball Card

AL/NL Best

These blue-bordered cards were issued as two separate factory sets, one for the American League and one for the National League.

The concept was to feature the best of both league but when you consider that each set contained 144 cards, by the time you got to the bottom of the list the players weren't exactly of superstar caliber.

The bigger names like Bo Jackson, Nolan Ryan, Cal Ripken Jr., etc. can go from $30 to $70 or more in top condition.

But, the Griffey Jr. card seems to be on everyone's want list as it can easily sell for hundreds of dollars in top grade.

1990 Donruss Best AL #1 Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball Card
1990 Donruss Best NL #45 Barry Bonds Baseball Card

Blue/White Test

The "Blue/White Test" cards showcase the same images of their base counterparts but can come with a blue or white border.

These rare test cards are desirable and can fetch hefty price tags depending on the player.

I have seen the Bo Jackson card below, for example, sell for hundreds of dollars.

1990 Donruss Blue White Test Issue Jose DeLeon Baseball Card
1990 Donruss Blue White Test Issue Bo Jackson Baseball Card

Previews

These preview cards were made available to a select number of dealers as a way to promote their upcoming 1990 set release.

There are only 12 cards in total and the backs of the cards will show each player's card number in that sequence.

1990 Donruss Previews #3 Bo Jackson Baseball Card
1990 Donruss Previews #3 Bo Jackson Baseball Card Reverse Side

1990 Donruss Baseball Cards In Review

So there you have it, the ten most valuable 1990 Donruss cards...as well as a look at some other oddball issues that can have even greater value to them.

As you can see, it will take the base cards on this top ten list being professionally graded in gem mint condition to be worth much.

Unopened Box of 1990 Donruss Baseball Cards

This set was a monster and contained a 716 card checklist in total.

Within the set were also several different subsets, including:

  • All-Stars
  • Bonus MVPs
  • Checklists
  • Diamond Kings
  • Grand Slammers
  • Rated Rookies

The set is huge and with all of the errors, parallels and variations it can seem a bit overwhelming, to say the least.

But for those of us who grew up collecting these as kids, they'll always have a huge nostalgic factor to them despite not having the most monetary value.