Wednesday, October 19, 2016
I have waited for this card for a long time
The Orioles do not appear on my radar that often. They are my youngest brother's favorite team, so I suppose they're not as ignored as the Rays or Twins. But since they are an American League team with no real ability to offend me, I pay little attention to them.
I definitely do not build my collection around them.
However, I have waited for the above card for a long, long time.
As a set collector at heart, I am fascinated by the notable players who were not included in Topps sets because the two sides didn't have a deal. I've mentioned many of them before -- Maury Wills, Jason Varitek, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Rusty Staub, Ichiro. And there are a bunch of others: Kevin McReynolds, Chris Short, Joe Adcock, Tony Horton and many more.
Each of their stories interests me, because since I was a child I have been under the impression that Topps chronicles every player from every year. There are all kinds of flaws with my impression, but it's difficult to shake. When a set is 792 cards, you believe that just about everyone is in the set, certainly the star players. And if a player is not in the set, he's a non-entity. There have been cases back when I was a kid where I didn't know about a player for years, just because I didn't pull his card.
Matt Wieters, more than 2,711 at-bats into his major league career that began in 2009, is appearing on his first Topps cards this year. News broke of Topps signing him to a contract in June. And I believe Wieters has appeared on a ToppsNow card or two already.
But this Heritage High Numbers card is the first Topps Wieters card issued in a traditional pack, as far as I know. Before this point, if you acquired a Wieters card, it was either an early eTopps card or something from Razor (the company Wieters signed with exclusively back in 2008) or Upper Deck or Panini. Just about all of those cards did not have a license with MLB, so Wieters appeared on them without any sign that he was Oriole. No happy bird on the cap, no Orioles script, nothing.
You know what I think of nonlicensed cards, for the most part ... ick. They're not worth having in most cases. So that means Wieters has continued to be a non-entity for me six years into his career.
But, finally ... finally ... Wieters appears on a Topps card in 2016. Just as Wills first did in 1967 and Rodriguez first did in 1998. Just as Varitek did in 2007 (after a 15-year absence), and Staub did in 1974 (after a 3-year absence).
I know if I was an Orioles fan, this would be the end of a long nightmare.
The least Wieters could do is look a little happier about it.
You're a cardboard somebody now!