I’d like to inaugurate a new classification of card: Wallet Worthy. I’d been thinking about the demise of Tower Records and how with the impending death of compact discs comes the impending death of liner notes. And with the death of liner notes comes the death of the obscure reference. And this is something that must not come to pass. Tower Records also got me thinking about the idea of desert island discs: you know, the ten or so records you’d take with you if you were stranded on a desert isle. My idea was, could you do the same thing with cards? Could you really make a list of desert island cards and get away with it? I decided you could do it, but you’d have to change the situation and the name. Instead of the age-old question: If you were stranded on a desert island with only ten baseball cards, what would they be?, I came up with: If you were slowly getting drunk at an airport bar, what cards would you produce from the photofold in your wallet (you know, where photos of your wife, kid, grandparent, grandchildren are supposed to be) to brag about with anyone who’ll listen?
The more I thought about it, the larger my proverbial photofold became. But to start things off, Whammy Douglas’ black-bordered binocular framed card from 1959 is definitely wallet worthy. First of all, his name is ‘Whammy’. Second, it’s a poorly-cut copy of the card. Third, it’s got a black border and he’s on the Redlegs, which means the colors used on the front are totally kick-ass. Fourth, did I mention his name is ‘Whammy’?, and that the blurb on the back says he’s especially proud of the home run he hit in Spring Training for the Reds in 1958? So does that mean that this is the first mention of his nickname? If that’s true, then this could be on par with Spiderman No. 1 or some other kind of comic book hero introduction, and who wouldn’t want something that in their wallet to brag about? Also, did you notice all the stains, scratches and wear and tear on the front of the card? It’s like the card is begging you--begging--to be jammed into a wallet, unlike, say, Gaylord Perry’s #115 from 1982 Topps (unless, of course, you have a thing for older men. Perry looks like he’s either posing for a dust jacket photo or he’s secretly Spalding Gray’s older brother…by the way, how great would it have been if Gaylord Perry became a famous author after he retired? Or instead of ‘famous author’, if he became a mediocre harlequin romance novel writer? That would’ve been unbelievably funny, but still not wallet worthy.)