The Brown University Ballplayer Shares Her Story
Olivia Pichardo continues to break barriers – on the baseball field and in 2023 Topps Allen & Ginter. The Queens native is the first woman to play Division I baseball for Brown University, balancing the academic demands of an Ivy League education with her athletic commitments. Adding to her bona fides, Pichardo always played for the USA Baseball Women’s National Team in 2022. Now, she has her own baseball card.
We recently caught up with Pichardo to talk about collecting, baseball, and her inclusion in the historic Allen & Ginter set for the latest installment of Collector Stories.
What’s your first memory of trading cards and collecting?
My little league cards, having team picture day, and then getting our headshots done with our bat and glove. I thought that was cool. My dad passed down to me his collection of Dominican baseball player cards from when he was a little kid. All players from the ’70s and ’80s – they’re really cool.
You now have your own card in 2023 Allen & Ginter. How has your understanding of the hobby changed since you’ve become part of the Topps Universe?
Being more of a casual collector, I had no idea how big of a culture it is! I didn’t know just how deep and different parallels and limited editions of cards went. It’s wild; I love it.
Who did you first tell after learning you’d be in the 2023 Topps Allen & Ginter set?
My parents. I felt like they should be the first to know about anything that goes on with me – sometimes, I don’t tell them, then they get mad. But not this time – they were the first ones I told about the card.
Community is central to the hobby. How has creating and maintaining community been central to your success?
It’s very important. After it was made public that I made the Brown University team, a lot of people reached out to me – a lot of people from Queens saying that they’re proud to have somebody like me representing Queens. That was really cool to see. It really made me feel even more connected to where I’m from.
How has growing up in Queens shaped you and contributed to your success?
I’m very fortunate to have grown up in Queens. It’s a very diverse borough; you grow up around all different kinds of cultures. You can get an authentic breakfast from basically any corner of the world just by walking for 10 minutes. I took it for granted when I was younger, but since I started traveling for sports and other things, I realized how lucky I am to come from where I’m from.
Big picture question: How did making history in Division I with your first at-bat feel?
It was very nerve-wracking. I was actually calmer than I thought I would be leading up to it. It was an extraordinary moment for me. I know that younger female baseball players were in the stands watching, which I didn’t know until afterward. Being a role model for them is crazy to think about for me because I look up to a lot of different female athletes, and to think that I’m sort of among them is wild.
You’ve said that Kelsey Whitmore is one of your biggest influences. What was it like playing on the USA Baseball Women’s National Team with her?
It was surreal. I got to play center field while she was pitching. When she played in the outfield, I shifted to right field. It was cool to share the outfield with her and fill in for her position when she pitched. I loved playing with her. I’m pretty shy, so I wouldn’t say I like to make a big deal of things, but it was great. I loved talking to her; she gave me a lot of good advice.
What advice would you give to the next generation of women following in your footsteps?
Keep playing the sport that you want to play. Regardless of what others say, play or stop on your own terms. And if you keep playing, keep working hard. Nothing comes for free; you have to earn it and put in the work. Nothing is going to be handed to you. You have to earn it.
Any final word for your fans?
I’m very grateful to be in the position that I am today. I’m grateful to be a student and an athlete at Brown University. I’m super grateful to Coach Achilles, the coaching staff, and my teammates for allowing me to be a part of the team.