On the surface, the newest stack of "extra" cardboard in my living room doesn't look like much.
It sits next to a couple other piles of cardboard, ones that contain all the extra inserts and parallels I've accumulated over the years.
I've had those couple "insert" piles there for a few years now.
It's that new pile, however, that has come to mean the most to me.
Because that's where I keep all the cards for my fellow bloggers.
I've recently traded with fans of the Mets and Indians. As a result, those teams have become a few of my newer additions to the "pile" in preparation for future swaps.
"Old vets" like the Dodgers have sat near the top of the pile during its short history. Whether it be at card shows, flea markets, or anywhere else, I've been on the hunt for Dodger cards for a good year now.
However, that "pile" began with one team, and one team only.
The Baltimore Orioles.
That's because of the repeated acts of generosity I've received from William, author of the terrific blog "Foul Bunt".
I'd completed a few blogosphere trades before he came along. However, he was the one that really opened my eyes as to just how amazing this place could be.
Ever since he sent me that hearty stack of 2012 Topps inserts back in February, I've been on the hunt for O's cards to "return the favor".
Trouble is, he just keeps sending me more and more good stuff. He finds 'em quicker than I can believe sometimes.
To my amazement, I found yet another package from William on my doorstep last afternoon.
Like nearly all of the other great gifts he has bestowed upon me over the last year, it came completely out of the blue.
As per usual with any mailer from William, I ripped it open with a tremendous amount of enthusiasm.
From there, a team bag fell out of the mailer.
I could see the back of the last card inside, one that I recognized right away.
It was a card from the original "wood grain" set, 1962 Topps.
Not only that, but a card featuring Mr. Hoyt Wilhelm himself employing his famous knuckleball grip. Possibly a night card, too.
Although I was excited to see it, there was only one problem.
I already had it.
I'd featured it in a "sharing the spotlight" edition of "Mondays with Hoyt" a few months ago.
I'll probably include it as a "bonus" in an outgoing trade package down the road. I'm sure there's someone out there who could give a nice home to this one.
At that point, I was basically thinking...
"Oh, well. It's the thought that counts, anyways."
That's about when I decided to turn over the team bag.
And that's about when my eyes widened with amazement.
It stared up at me for a few seconds before I really came to realize what I was holding.
A 1962 Topps Hoyt Wilhelm!
The 1962 Topps Hoyt Wilhelm!
A high-number! A short-print!
And now it's MINE!
For a while, I didn't know how William knew of my quest for this card.
As I later remembered, I'd mentioned in passing that one of my "mini-resolutions" for the year was to track down a copy of this very card.
Because it was a high-number and a short-print, I figured it was a resolution that would stay unfulfilled.
Frankly, I didn't think I had a chance in hell of finding that thing.
We're only ten days into the new year.
And I've already knocked out one of my resolutions.
Needless to say, it wouldn't have been possible without William.
Although I've been the beneficiary of countless acts of blogger generosity during my time around here, I think this one has to take the cake.
Man, oh, man.
William really outdid himself this time.
It gets even better.
According to the note he included with the pair of Hoyts, William specifically hunted for the card off of "the 'bay", purely because he happens to enjoy what I write around here.
That really struck a chord.
I didn't start this blog because I thought people would send me some amazing cards down the road.
All I wanted to do was talk about this crazy little hobby.
And, so far, I've done exactly that.
But I'll be the first to admit it.
Getting some spectacular cardboard along the road has certainly been a pleasure.
Because of that, the note William included was just as special as the Hoyt card itself.
Both are a testament to the great people that are still in this hobby.
Perhaps more than that, it shows just how truly awesome this little thing we call the "blogosphere" really is.
I'm still having trouble grasping the fact that I ACTUALLY OWN A 1962 TOPPS HOYT WILHELM.
Without people like William, I'd still be prowling the trading forums. The thousands of terrific cards I've received during my time as a blogger wouldn't even be a glimmer in my eye.
And I wouldn't be the proud owner of a 1962 Topps Hoyt Wilhelm.
What a sad life that would've been.