This card was once highly regarded.
Man this was THE card to have in the back half of 1989. Jerome Walton was in the middle of his 89 ROY campaign, and everyone wanted to have this card. I remember it being a highly valued card in our little trading community, one that took me a long time to acquire. It was trading up in the stratospheric TEN DOLLAR range! The same as the Ken Griffey Jr rookie card. It’s laughable now, really, and I didn’t completely understand it at the time, as I was more of a Dwight Smith guy, but hey, a must-have card is a must-have card.
And frankly I think it’s a pretty good-looking card. He looks a bit weird, but the color in the picture is vibrant and I think almost as iconic as that Griffey shot. If Walton had panned out like Griffey, I could easily see this one occupying that same aesthetic stratosphere. I have a feeling they chose this photo very carefully, just like the Griffey one. Still fun to look at and think about, even if Walton was terrible.
Another one of the Great Cubs Hopes, Gary Scott came roaring out of Spring Training 1991 looking like the heir to the troubled third base spot in Chicago. For a few weeks I was desperate to get his cards, especially as I knew nothing of him before Spring Training. Then he promptly fell on his face in the regular season, went back down, cameback in 1992, and flopped again, never to be heard from again. Apparently he bounced around the minors until 1996, playing in the Reds, Giants, Twins, Braves, and Padres systems, never again showing the promise that he had before that. Was he rushed and lost all confidence? Who can say…but I do suspect his career was mishandled.
This is one of my favorite Gold Leaf Rookies. I think it’s a great photograph; the lighting is unusual, and while the pose seems fairly standard, I love the look on his face, almost as if he’s calling for the ball. I don’t care what happened to his career, this card was worth it.
Okay, so technically this isn’t one of Dwight’s “golden age” cards, from his Cubs years, but I wanted to share it. Back in 1989, you were either a Jerome Walton guy or a Dwight Smith guy. I was a Dwight Smith guy. I didn’t think Walton had a whole lot to offer beyond some speed, where Smith was a better all-around package. If you’d asked me back then, I would have thought Smith was destined to have a pretty decent career – probably just on the edge of superstar (think Terry Pendleton). So I don’t quite understand why Smith didn’t pan out that way. Oh, sure, he had a better career than Walton, but he never really got to Pendleton levels. Kind of sad.
But, all that given, I still wasn’t much of a Smith collector. I think the problem is that the other guys in the neighborhood saw Walton and Smith as cardboard gold, and so it was hard to pry the cards away. I think I may have finally gotten my hands on an 89 Upper Deck of him, but I can’t remember for sure. Anyway, this card was a little way of sating that poor, Smith-less child inside.