2001 Topps American Pie #102 Hoyt Wilhelm
I wasn't sure what would happen when the "Topps monopoly" hit the hobby two years ago.
Should I believe all the "gloom and doom" stories? Or could this actually end up helping the card market in the future?
As it stands now, I've made a final decision.
I honestly don't know.
I'm not sure I ever will.
Nothing Topps has done over the past couple years has blown me away. The flagship sets have still given me the same bang for my buck. The "other" Topps sets, such as Gypsy Queen and Lineage, have at least been passable.
But nothing Topps has done has floored me yet.
Still, I do believe that they're going in the right direction.
Although it didn't quite live up to my expectations, I was excited to see Topps revive the Archives brand this year. (To be fair, I'm not sure anything could've matched my love for the original '01/'02 Archives sets.)
I was glad to see American Pie hitching a ride on the "revival train" as well, even though it took on a completely different format.
I've previously noted my indifference towards the Gypsy Queen brand, a sentiment that seems to be in the minority amongst collectors.
Last year's American Pie release was pretty much the polar opposite of that, although it's easy to see why since it was mainly slanted towards the non-sports collector, something which there just aren't too many of these days.
Given that I'm a huge history fan, I gobbled up as much American Pie as possible. It'll always have a soft spot in my collecting heart because it was the first set I "reviewed" as a blogger.
Much like Archives, however, nothing Topps did could've bettered my feelings towards the inaugural American Pie sets. (Sets that were also printed during 2001 and '02.)
I try not to compare the old and new versions, because they're really two different animals.
But between you and me, the "old" one blows the "new" version out of the water.
A set comprised entirely of guys that played during the '60s and '70s. And not just the most well-known ones, either. While Bob Gibson and "Yaz" do appear in the checklist, Topps made room for the more "fan favorite" types like Dick Allen and Luis Tiant as well.
And if that wasn't enough, Topps devoted a nice chunk of the checklist to non-sports collectors such as myself. Everything from Elvis to Woodstock to the Women's Liberation Movement was represented.
And if that wasn't enough, Topps decided to grant card number 102 in the American Pie checklist to none other than Mr. Hoyt Wilhelm.
This had to have been one of the first Hoyt cards I ever acquired. And it's still easily one of my favorites.
To this day, it's the only non-airbrushed card I own that pictures Wilhelm in an Atlanta Braves uniform.
That famous knuckleball grip brings the whole card together.
If I had to commend Topps on one thing, it's their recent revival of some of their previous cardboard glories.
I sincerely hope it's a trend that continues down the road. Newer sets like Tier One and Heritage Minor Leagues just don't do it for me.
I'd rather see more of their "oldies".