05-04 Card of the Day: Don Shula

Pro Set's mass-produced '89 issue included coaches

Mike Schopp
May 04, 2020 - 11:20 am
Card of the Day - Don Shula

Photo: Mike Schopp (@Schopptalk)

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1989 PRO SET No. 225

DON SHULA

Pro Set entered the wild world of sports cards in 1989 with a 561-card football issue that included head coaches. Don Shula, on his way to become the NFL's winningest coach, is card No. 225. The cards in that inaugural Pro Set issue are sorted by teams.

Shula died Monday morning at the age of 90.

The late '80s and early '90s were a time unlike any other in card collecting. Word was out that there was big money in vintage cards, and the hobby began to appeal to investors and not just sports fans. My memories of this are about my father, who mostly considered my card collection trash that was taking up supposedly valuable space in the house. But when the late '80s card craze came around, my dad took some interest.

One magical day, he came home with a collection of 1970s cards that he'd bought off a friend. I was in heaven. We bought the Beckett price guide from Walden Books and looked up the prices of everything. Cards of players like Jim Rice and Mike Schmidt listed for $2-$5 became my obsession. I would sort them in order by price -- then when the new guide would come out and I might have to re-order them, my dad would advise me that I was defeating the purpose of separating these star cards from the commons by handling them all the time. He had a point.

The '89 Shula example is not a good one, but overall, the Pro Set cards looked great. The photography was gorgeous. Problem was -- at least in one way of looking at it -- that they produced so many that the cards held no value. Pro Set cards were everywhere in those years. The Shula card, like almost every card from that set, is worth pennies.

Coaches can have "rookie cards" just like players, in hobby parlance. But this is not Shula's first card. In fact, far from it. Shula appears on a 1958 Topps team card of the Washington Redskins, for whom he played one season. To my knowledge, Shula did not have his own major-issue card as a player.

Don Shula 1989 Pro Set card
Mike Schopp
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