2000 Greats of the Game #23 Hoyt Wilhelm
It's a shame that sets like "Greats of the Game" have become a thing of the past.
Most of them did a great job of bringing baseball history into the hands of the collector. I'm all for sets of current players. Topps flagship, Heritage, etc. have always been among my favorite releases every year.
However, I miss the days of having those one or two sets that focus entirely on the past. Sets that included a guy like Hoyt Wilhelm. (His last appearance in a base set came in 2007 SP Legendary Cuts.)
The initial release of "Greats of the Game" in 2000 was the inspiration for many of the all-HOF/retired sets that would come after it.
For my money, cards don't get much better than these.
The border color is unlike any other I've seen. The feel to these 2000 Greats of the Game cards is certainly unique. The cards literally "feel" old. I'm not sure how to describe it. (Those of you who own any of these should know what I'm talking about.)
In fact, one of my earliest memories as a collector is linked to this set.
I managed to catch the tail end of the era when card shows were still well-dispersed around my town. They used to have one at a local mall that I'd go to every so often. (One of my best and most unexpected finds came from a card shop in that very same mall late last year.)
At the time, I couldn't have been more than eight or nine years old. Anyways, I came across what was probably one of my first dime boxes at that show.
Unfortunately, some guy was already looking through them, and he wasn't budging. I distinctly remember trying to sneak in from the side to start digging. No luck. I tried the other side. The guy didn't budge. My dad and I moved onto another table for the time being. (We were both pretty peeved.)
It was probably my first introduction as to the few jerks that manage to pollute this hobby.
To this day, if I'm looking through a dime box or whatever and I see someone else wanting to nudge their way in, I gladly shift over a bit so they can start digging.
Especially if it's a kid.
Anyways, we eventually made our way back to the table, which was unoccupied this time around. The box ended up having stacks upon stacks of these inside. I almost never buy anything from 2000 Greats of the Game anymore, because nearly all my needs from that set were knocked out twelve or thirteen years ago.
I'm pretty sure this one was among those many stacks, which means it might well have been my first Hoyt Wilhelm card.
Experiences like that as a young collector are what shaped my current admiration for those glorious dime boxes.
There's yet another reason why I love these cards so much.
The backs have full career stats, which is always a major plus.
Fleer managed to cram a lot of info onto these, which makes it one of my favorite card backs in recent memory.
Fitting all 21 years of Hoyt's stats on here is an accomplishment within itself.
Greats of the Game ran from 2000 to '04, then made a brief comeback in '06. Every single base card during that span has the player's career stats on the back.
Being the stat geek I am, I love it.
Maybe these all-HOFer sets will make a comeback in the near future. Maybe I'll see a new influx of Hoyt Wilhelm cards I can chase.
One can only hope.