Who is the King of Baseball Card Art?

To vote on this poll, head over to the Wax Heaven Twitter account!

These days, baseball card artwork, much like base cards, have long been forgotten in favor of a big “hit” or low-numbered parallel. Even products like Panini Diamond Kings looks to have replaced Dick Perez’ artwork with a high-end Photoshop filter ran on real photographs. However, in the 80s and 90s, before autographs and relics put base card design on the back-burner, there were three names synonymous with baseball card artwork: Dick Perez, Vernon Wells, and Terry Smith. Each had their own unique styles but all created memorable and iconic baseball card artwork.

So who did it best? Below are two subjects who have been painted by all three of the artists on the poll. First up is hobby legend and Hall of Famer, Nolan Ryan. Second is flash in the pan and hands down the best player in baseball for a couple of seasons, Jose Canseco. You look at the list and then vote on Twitter for who you think was the most talented baseball card artist of the “Junk Wax” era. I will also include links to their websites and other works before sending you over to Twitter to cast your vote.

First Subject:
Nolan Ryan

Card Brands:
1982 Donruss Diamond Kings by Dick Perez
1993 Colla Postcards by Terry Smith)
1991 Upper Deck by Vernon Wells

It’s a damn shame that Terry Smith never got the chance to include Nolan Ryan in Fleer’s memorable Pro Visions line because it would have been a classic. As talented as Vernon Wells is, those Upper Deck portraits haven’t aged well leaving Dick Perez’ early Donruss DK card to be the best looking of the three, in my opinion.

Second Subject:
Jose Canseco

Card Brands:
1987 Donruss Diamond Kings by Dick Perez
1989 Upper Deck by Vernon Wells
1991 Fleer Pro Visions by Terry Smith

In my opinion, Dick Perez’ only portrait of Jose Canseco to be included in a Donruss  release is also one of his worst efforts. It’s one of my least favorite cards of Jose from this era although to be fair, he did have those awful sideburns. Vernon’s Upper Deck card is classy but was overshadowed by Jose’s beautiful base card. Fleer Pro-Visions is hands down the winner in my book. From Jose’s mythical stance to the lightning hitting his bat and even the color of the night sky, this card is one of the most memorable Jose Canseco cards ever produced and Terry Smith is responsible for it.

So there you have just two samples of each of the artists’ work. You can find Dick Perez’ website here with lots of samples of his other work and much more. Unfortunately, Terry Smith’s website has gone offline but you can find a great profile of the artist and see some of his other work HERE. You can find Upper Deck’s main man of the late 80s and early 90s on his website, which also includes his other works.

Much thanks to long time Wax Heaven reader, Polo Gonzales for the story idea.

2 thoughts on “Who is the King of Baseball Card Art?

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