2002 Topps Super Teams "Super Teams Autographs" #STA-HW Hoyt Wilhelm AUTO
I can remember the exact day I was introduced to the glorious world of online trading.
As a kid, I was absolutely huge into the great MLB Showdown board game. (I still am, but not nearly as much as I was before.)
While it's hardly remembered today, "Showdown" was pretty big in the early 2000's. There were nationwide tournaments. I recall reading that the winner of one of those tourneys got season tickets to the team of their choice.
As a result, there was an entire site dedicated to it back in the day. Part of it was a forum for discussing and trading MLB Showdown cards. I made my first few dozens of online trades there.
It's quite possible that I wouldn't own this Hoyt Wilhelm autograph had it not been for those seemingly irrelevant "Showdown" forums.
A few years later, after the demise of MLB Showdown, I was back into "regular" baseball cards. I had already joined another trading forum, complete with a few hundred trades due to my hockey card days.
One of the first collections I began building after my plunge back into the baseball card universe was my Hoyt Wilhelm collection. I happened to mention it on the forum I was on at the time, even though my collection was still in its infant stages at the time.
Part of what I said was that I'd been looking for a Wilhelm autograph, but I hadn't yet been able to find one within my price range.
In one of the biggest acts of generosity I've seen during my time in the hobby, one of the members of the forum said that he'd been able to acquire a Wilhelm auto online, and that it would be coming my way shortly.
I was amazed. Never in my life did I think I'd be able to get a Hoyt Wilhelm autograph, much less a free one.
That was the day I realized just how great the entire baseball card community was.
The card is still one of the cornerstones of my Hoyt collection. It's a beautiful on-card autograph from the one-and-done 2002 Topps Super Teams set. (A set which includes the "old-time" card stock that this year's Archives is lacking.)
Sadly, it could also quite possibly be one of the last autographs Wilhelm would ever sign, as he passed away in August of '02.
While I've been spending a lot more time in the blogosphere than online forums lately, I still cannot say enough for how much my collection has advanced due to the thousands of trades I've made over the years. The online community of collectors has been nothing but fantastic to me ever since day one, and have certainly played a role in the love for cardboard that I carry with me today.
Each time I look at this card, I appreciate the community more and more.