Fish Bytes

Marlins’ players rip open packs of cards in search of baseball history

Miami Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon tore open the wrapping on an unopened pack of 1992 Topps baseball cards hoping to find his dad, Tom “Flash” Gordon, the former big-league pitcher.
Miami Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon tore open the wrapping on an unopened pack of 1992 Topps baseball cards hoping to find his dad, Tom “Flash” Gordon, the former big-league pitcher. adiaz@miamiherald.com

Dee Gordon tore open the wrapping on an unopened pack of 1992 Topps baseball cards hoping to find his dad, Tom “Flash” Gordon, the former big-league pitcher.

He didn’t.

But the random assortment of cards Gordon unsealed from their packaging provided Mike Oz with another episode of his online show — “25-Year-Old Baseball Cards” — for Yahoo! Sports.

“You’re opening history,” said Gordon, the Marlins second baseman. “It was cool.”

Gordon and Marlins catcher A.J. Ellis both agreed to participate in Oz’s creation, which involves modern-day players talking about their major-league predecessors — in cardboard form — when the Marlins were in Oakland.

“Everybody likes it,” said Oz, which is a shortened version of his last name — Osegueda — and the one he uses for his Yahoo byline. “That’s one cool thing about it. It’s a different sort of interview.”

The idea originated a few years ago when Oz was cleaning out his family garage. He had collected baseball cards growing up and held on to them, believing they might become valuable one day — “like a lot of people who collected cards in the late ’80s and early ’90s.”

Instead, most ended up in his garage.

“My wife kept saying, ‘What are you going to do with the baseball cards?’ ” Oz said.

Oz had also inherited a bunch of unopened boxes from his grandmother — a collector herself — after she died in 2003. Then, a couple of years ago, right before the start of spring training, the idea hit him.

“I said, ‘I know what I can do with them. I can open them up with baseball people and see what kinds of stories they have,’ ” Oz recalled. “It was something I wasn’t sure how well it would do.”

Some of the first players to give it a try were Adam Eaton, Rajai Davis and Marlins reliever Brad Ziegler.

They would open a pack of cards, take a look at what they had and then talk about the ones that jogged some memory.

“With the current guys, it’s nice to see who they remember and why,” Oz said.

For Eaton, it was Lenny Dykstra. Eaton said that when he was in high school he was often compared to the outfielder.

When Ellis opened his pack in Oakland, he stumbled across his agent, former major-league infielder Keith Miller.

Gordon ended up with a card of Curt Young, the former big-league pitcher who is now the pitching coach for the Athletics.

“I threw it [aside],” Gordon said with a laugh. “I got a bad pack, a bunch of people I didn’t know.”

Oz said the online show was slow to take off.

“It wasn’t as good as it could be,” Oz said of some of the earliest episodes. “They weren’t huge hits.”

But it all changed when Oz convinced Alex Rodriguez and Frank Thomas to participate before the start of last year’s postseason. That show captured people’s attention.

“Once A-Rod did it, it became a thing,” Oz said. “Thanks A-Rod.”

Now Oz has no trouble convincing players to play along.

“I think it’s a fun way to talk about baseball,” he said. “It’s also about nostalgia. I think so many people got into baseball because of baseball cards.”

COMING UP

▪ Friday: Marlins RHP Dan Straily (2-3, 3.97 ERA) vs. Los Angeles Angels RHP Jesse Chavez (4-5, 4.61), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.

▪ Saturday: Marlins (TBA) vs. Angels RHP J.C. Ramirez (4-3, 3.81), 4:10 p.m., Marlins Park.

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