5 of Hearts isn't a proper card for this type set, but offers a fun excuse to mention excellent third-sacker Ken Boyer. One of the best offensive and defensive players of the late 50s and 60s, our guest's #14 deservedly hangs on the Busch Stadium wall. (#17 is none other than recent comparative Dizzy Dean.)
Over the years, I've picked up a casual affection for Mr. Boyer, probably from friends' nostalgic recollecting of 60s players and their dramatic moments. (Ken hit a take-the-lead grand slam against the Yankees in 1964's World Series.) St. Louis residents remembered him in print as recently as June 21, 2009.
Plenty of playing card makers primped their designs with baseballers over the years. Here's a shotgun profile of the genre.
- 1888 Base Ball Playing Cards, catalogued as WG1, the designation used for "game" sets. You can't use them for poker, but it's an interesting look nonetheless!
- 1927 strip cards, catalogued as W560. Much smaller than modern clubs and spades, so more decorative than playful.
- 1951 Topps Red Backs (and companion Blue Backs) contained 52 cards and a built-in baseball game.
- 1962 Exhibit of Dem Bums, a rare issue with size and style reminiscent of today's Boyer card.
- Baseball Heroes cards, the modern, "build to suit" version of putting team stars into play.
That barely scratches the surface, as you could build a sizeable collection just from playing card sets. Should more info turn up about today's card, I'll update the column in the future.