1972 Topps #777 Hoyt Wilhelm
Some major baseball news hit today, if you haven't heard yet.
My favorite player in the game today, Ichiro Suzuki, has been dealt to the Yankees for two prospects. Ichiro to the "Evil Empire". I'm still having trouble picturing it.
My feelings on the deal are a bit torn.
On one hand, I'm glad he'll be going to a team that has a good shot at winning it all. The Yankees are definitely in contention to win their 28th World Series title this year, although I'm not exactly rooting for them. Nevertheless, Ichiro hasn't had an opportunity like that since the beginning of his career.
But on the other hand, I was hoping Ichiro would begin and end his career as a Seattle Mariner. I'm a little afraid that we'll never see players like Chipper Jones or Derek Jeter in the future, guys that played their entire career in one uniform. (I'm only speculating with Jeter, but it's most likely a good bet.)
From the looks of it, Ichiro was the one who requested the trade, feeling that his 38 year-old frame was out of place with the young crop of recent Mariners players.
If he's on board with being a Yankee, I'm on board with it as well.
One man who was no stranger to changing uniforms was Hoyt Wilhelm. That's for sure.
He changed teams no less than 13 times in his career. Let's track the progression of his career in one long run-on sentence.
Wilhelm was signed as a free agent by the Boston Braves in 1947. The Giants made him a minor league draft pick from the Braves a few months later. (I assume that's the older equivalent to the Rule 5 draft, although I might be wrong.)
Starting with the Giants, it goes: Giants, Cardinals, Indians, Orioles, White Sox, Royals (for whom he never played), Angels, Braves, Cubs, Braves, Dodgers.
Certainly a well-traveled player.
Since I've already been delving into the whole "final card" theme lately, I thought now would be a great time to feature Wilhelm's final card in a "Mondays with Hoyt" post.
His '72 issue catches him at the very end of his illustrious Hall of Fame career. He'd appear in 16 games for the Dodgers that year before retiring.
I don't remember exactly how or when I acquired it (possibly an Ebay purchase), but I do know that it was one of the first big pieces of my Hoyt collection.
It's one of those aggravating uber-high numbers from the '72 set, one of the last cards in the set at #777. Because of that, I probably had to shell out a few bucks for it, although whatever I paid is definitely worth it. (I can't recall the exact price.)
Some Topps sets do a great job of defining an era of American history. Their 1972 issue is probably the "king" of that theme. Given the craziness of the early '70s, it's odd seeing a card of Wilhelm on such a "psychedelic" design, a guy who made his big league debut in 1952.
Nevertheless, it does a great job of chronicling the end of Wilhelm's illustrious career.
A Hall of Fame career, at that.