Don HoodOctober 15, 2009
This 1977 card frightened me a little when I was a kid. In most baseball cards from those days, the subject looked directly at the viewer, or else was engaged in some sort of action on the field. More often than not, blue sky was visible. None of these norms are present in this representation of Don Hood. In fact, his pants provide the only evidence that he might be a baseball player, but even those could be part of the haphazard outfit of, well, a hood, an emaciated coke-frazzled hood, perhaps, who is waiting to issue threat-backed demands in a dank alley outside a rundown disco. I mean, what could be in his left hand behind his back? When I ponder this question, the possibility of the answer being a baseball ranks far behind such other possibilities as a broken beer bottle, a switchblade, or even a switchblade comb.
I always wanted a switchblade comb. (What, would you rather I delve into the subject of Don Hood? Don Hood had a lifetime 34-35 record after recording a loss [upon giving up two unearned runs due to a Buddy Biancalana error] in his last appearance in the very last game of the very last season of his decade in the majors.) They sold switchblade combs in comic books, but for some reason I never got my act together to send away for one. I didn’t have a pile of money lying around, I guess, and what money I did have I spent on purchasing Don Hood’s likeness in cardboard, along with thousands of others cards. Maybe I understood that somehow if I did send away for a switchblade comb, the reality of the object, as opposed to the unassailable hypothetical notion of it, would be weighted with disappointment. I can see how it would have gone: I’d have whipped it out a couple times at home, in front of my brother and parents, making like I was a tough guy with a blade and then using it to comb my hair (something I actually never did and in fact which was sort of impossible—I had snarled, curly, hippie-kid hair, and probably the teeth of the cheap switchblade comb would have started snapping off pretty rapidly), then I would have taken it to school and tried the gag there too, but both at home and at school the bit would be taken in by onlookers with glaze-eyed boredom. It wouldn’t have gotten any laughs. Then the device would have probably stopped opening or, more likely, would have stopped closing, thus nullifying its purpose, and it would have sat on a shelf until it fell behind a shelf or under a couch and maybe on the last day of our family’s life in the house someone would have found it and thrown it away.
So maybe it’s better that I never sent away for a switchblade comb. But why did I never save up for another of the comic book wonders for sale, the hover craft? Oh, how I would have soared.