2004 Sweet Spot #111 Hoyt Wilhelm FF /1952
As I've mentioned again and again on this blog, my main player collection is of Mr. James Hoyt Wilhelm. (Like Lynn Nolan Ryan, his middle name is the more widespread one.)
Of the tens of thousands of cards I own, I take the most collective pride in the 104 different pieces of my Hoyt Wilhelm collection. (I guess it's 105 if you count this one, which involves Wilhelm's famous knuckler.)
It hasn't been easy.
While he is a Hall of Famer, he hasn't had many cards produced in recent years. (I only own one of his from 2008 to the present.)
I figured I'd take a page from a couple other blogs I read and devote one post per week to simply showing off a random Hoyt card from my collection of his. You'll see vintage. You'll see relics. You'll even see a couple autographs.
You'll see it all. So keep an eye out for my "Mondays with Hoyt" series on Monday nights from now on! (Looking through my Hoyt collection helps after coming back from a long day of school on a Monday, as I found out this afternoon.)
The above card is a perfect place to start, as it commemorates an amazing beginning to an eventual Hall of Fame career.
After military service and some less-than-stellar minor league years early in his career, Hoyt Wilhelm finally made his major league debut with the New York Giants in 1952.
By that time, he was already 29 years old.
He went 15-3 in his rookie season without ever starting a game, leading the NL with a 2.43 ERA out of the bullpen.
His trademark knuckleball was with him right from the start, helping him earn his first victory on April 23, 1952.
Something else happened in that April 23 game against the Braves that first endeared me to the now-famous knuckleballer, another "Famous First" in Wilhelm's career.
In his first ever at-bat, Wilhelm hit a solo home run off Braves pitcher Dick Hoover.
Hoyt would go on to have a long HOF career that would end with the Dodgers twenty-one years later, in 1972. However, he would never hit another home run in those 21 years. (He held the record for games pitched at the time of his retirement as well, making that feat even more remarkable.)
Reading that in one of my baseball books as a kid is the first time I can remember hearing about Wilhelm.
It's funny how that one obscure fact led to such a great collection.