That moment when your friend gets his own baseball card in Allen & Ginter

There’s been no shortage of complaining about this year’s Topps Allen & Ginter non-baseball checklist, and sadly one of the figures who had drawn the ire of collectors early on was Yahoo Sports’ Mike Oz, touted on the back of his card #157 as “Baseball Card Video Host.”

The complaining is something that happens every year. Let’s face it: 2006 may have had the greatest non-baseball checklist that Allen & Ginter will ever have The bar was set so high that it was impossible for Topps to match the product year after year.

And so with each year Topps looks to diversify the checklist, and each year that checklist is subjected to scrutiny, fair or not, and the persons who the company selected to appear on official cards draw the ire of hobbyists, many of which who truly believe THEY deserve a spot on a baseball card instead of the subject they can actually find in their packs.

I’m not going to act like I’m above this. I’ve complained about checklists in the past, and have done my fair share of questioning who some of the folks are. But this year has been a bit different.

Mike Oz, the guy who appears on card 157 of the 2019 Allen & Ginter set, is more than just the guy on another card in my collection. That’s the guy who befriended me when we both wound up at the college newspaper together in 2000. That’s the guy who helped me get internships and acted as a peer and mentor. That’s the guy who has been a friend to me for almost two decades and is one of the most liked people I’ve known in my life.

Additionally, that’s also the guy who has done a lot in recent years to bring more attention to this hobby through his work with Yahoo by putting baseball cards in the hands of current and former players and having them tell stories — something that he has been doing before multiple other people started to copy or adapt versions of the format.

But what’s also important to know is that Mike is not just a dude off the street who decided to open cards with players — something that many folks think they also could do given the opportunity. Mike is an accomplished media man — he was a nationally-recognized collegiate sports journalist and a contributor to a major hip-hop magazine and a radio DJ while in college. After school he worked as a professional journalist at a major newspaper in central California covering local happenings, sports and the music scene. He then parlayed that into a dream job covering Major League Baseball for Yahoo, which has evolved to now include the “Old Baseball Cards” series which as gained him notoriety with a whole new audience, which includes the folks at Topps who reached out to him to include him in the 2019 Allen & Ginter set.

I realize that my personal connection to him leaves me in a space where I would not criticize his inclusion on this year’s set. But it is this connection that also puts me in a unique position to share with the hobby who this guy is. So while others are also deserving of being in such a set — which every year by design has more than a dozen non-players on the checklist so I’m sure we’ll see more debate next year — Mike’s inclusion this year doesn’t shock me one bit, and it absolutely gives me a reason to purchase Ginter, as it’s a product that over the years has drawn less interest from me.

The set isn’t for everyone, including myself. It’s not a traditional baseball card release. It wasn’t when the line started in 1887, and it wasn’t when Topps adopted the brand and rebooted it in 2006. And if you expected Topps to change the formula for this year, or for other releases going forward, you’re going to drive yourself crazy fighting a battle not worth fighting. It’s best to embrace the checklist as it is presented each year, or just dismiss the product all together and just wait for the next release, which as history has shown us, is just a few days away anyway.

One Response to “That moment when your friend gets his own baseball card in Allen & Ginter”

  1. I love the Old Baseball Card videos! Eric Davis had a great episode.

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