Archive for the ‘baseball books’ Category


Talking about Hank Greenberg at SABR Day

Posted on: January 29th, 2019 by Ron Kaplan

Posted this to my blog about baseball books, so rather than reinvent the wheel, I’m simply offering the link for the event which featured fellow MOT authors Howard Megdal (The Baseball Talmud) and Lincoln Mitchell discussing their work.

The entry includes the nearly one-hour video of the panel.

Korner Review: The Jewish Baseball Card Book

Posted on: November 27th, 2017 by Ron Kaplan

If you’re looking for the perfect gift for the Jewish sports fan, you can’t do much better than The Jewish Baseball Card Book, by Bob Wechsler.

Image result for the jewish baseball card bookBased on the popular Jewish card sets produced by Martin Abramowitz (who helped on the project along with Peter McDonald), this coffee table edition features photos and brief stories about every JML from Lipman Pike through Alex Bregman, presented by the year of the athlete’s debut.

You might remember Wechsler from his previous contribution to the religion’s sports library, Day by Day in Jewish Sports History. He does his usual great job of mining for little gold nuggets in the genre. (Full disclosure: he’s one of my go-to guys whenever I have a question about an athlete’s identity or other Jewish-related sports puzzlers.)

As you might imagine, it’s hard to find cards for many of these MOTs, especially those who barely had a cup of instant coffee in the big leagues. That’s what makes this volume stand out. In addition to the pages on “regular” Jews, the writers have included a section on “Jews by Choice,” which includes such notables names as Elliot Maddox and Joel Horlen, among others.. There’s also a chapter on Jews who have appeared in Topps regular sets, along with the numbers of their cards, a sort of checklist without the standard checking part.

Even rarer than Jews on American baseball cards? Jews on sets produced in foreign countries. That’s here, too, along with the beloved “error cards” that usually have the wrong photo attributed to a player.

The book concludes with a checklist of cards issued prior to 1988. Why that date? Because that’s when the industry exploded, with several companies competing for the collectors’ dollars, making the undertaking of finding every single card a bit more arduous.

All in all, this is a must-have for those who love the very narrow theme. Remember, Hanukka is just around the corner.

Check out Peter Ephross’ recent article in Tablet. He tells a more sentimental story than my “just-the-facts” rendering. Ephross was the editor of Jewish Major Leaguers in Their Own Words: Oral Histories of 23 Players. There’s also this from the Jewish Baseball Museum and this one from



Be there or be square: My gig at the Bergino Baseball Clubhouse

Posted on: April 17th, 2017 by Ron Kaplan

Pleased to be making a second trip to the Bergino Baseball Clubhouse in Manhattan.

I’ll be there on Wednesday, May 3, at 7.p.m., to discuss Hank Greenberg in 1938: Hatred and Home Runs in the Shadow of War, with Bergino proprietor and friend to authors Jay Goldberg.

I’d love to see you there. Please visit here to RSVP for guaranteed seating in this intimate setting.



Rachmones for the underdog?

Posted on: May 11th, 2016 by Ron Kaplan

Baseball has always  had supreme rulers. The New York Yankees, with 27 world championships, are generally acknowledged as baseball’s most dynastic franchise, beginning with their rush to greatness in the early 1920s. Even teams more known for their ineptitude — the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs — once dominated the national pastime. But are baseball dynasties dead?

A quartet of Jewish sportswriters will participate in “Reign Men,” a debate of baseball’s greatest dynasties, at the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center on Sunday, May 22, at 2 p.m. The Museum is located on the campus of Montclair State University in Little Falls.

The panelists include:

Baseball historian, author, and former Yankees PR director Marty Appel will moderate the discussion.

Admission is $6, $4 for students, and free for Museum members. Each author’s most recent book will also be available for purchase. For more information, contact 973-655-6891 or

Remember, Hanukka comes early this year

Posted on: October 7th, 2013 by Ron Kaplan

Like “Light the menora at your Thanksgiving feast”-early.

So it’s not too soon to think about gifts for that baseball book fan on your list. Might I suggest (in addition to 501 Baseball Books Fans Must Read before They Die, which is perfect for off-season reading-by-the-fireside), the new Sports Illustrated Baseball’s Greatest. As one has come to expect, this coffee-table edition is full of great photos and fun facts, a number of which is sure to start conversations, if not flat-out arguments.

Blogger recaptures drama of Nazi era in Hank Greenberg fiction

Posted on: July 26th, 2013 by Ron Kaplan

It was a bit disheartening to see the anti-Semitic screeds regarding Ryan Braun’s suspension. But compared with what players in Hank Greenberg’s era had to endure, the comments and Tweets about Braun are love letters.

Jeff Polman, a graphic designer from Culver City, California, posts several installments each week about Greenberg in “Dear Hank: A Fictional 1938 Season in Letters,” a blog about the original “Hammerin’ Hank” as he deals with anti-Semitism on the homefront and the incursion of Nazism in pre-WWII Europe.

Polman has used this method before with 1924 and You Are There!; Play That Funky Baseball; The Bragging Rights League; and Mystery Ball ’58, The stories are all fictitious, but based on seasons “played” via Strat-o-Matic (1924 was also published in book form.)

I spoke with Polman earlier this week. You can listen to our conversation here.


It's funny because it's (almost) true

Posted on: July 11th, 2013 by Ron Kaplan

Dan Barry, author of Bottom of the 33rd: Hope, Redemption, and Baseball’s Longest Game, published this hilarious riff in today’s NY Times on perhaps one of the most annoying baseball broadcasters in history, IMHO.

Speaking of annoying, I’m hoping, no praying, that Chris Berman does not do the All Star Game Home Run Derby this year. How many times can you listen to “backbackback? as the ball leaves the park?

An example:

And just a slight exaggeration:

(There are a few more videos that follow the Berman call, and they’re pretty amusing, too.)

Just an aside: I know Waldman and Berman are Jewish, but I was trying to ascertain Sterling’s info. It’s wild that there’s so much “controversy” about it. Several Internet sources cite his birth name as “Harry Moscowitz,” but that seems odd when you look at his Wikipedia page which claims he was born John Sloss, son of Carl Sloss, an advertising executive who was evidently a big enough deal that he merited this obituary in the New York Times in 1991, which mentions Sterling). published this piece on “25 of the best sports sportscasting legends” and Sterling is not on the list. Of course, that could just be an editorial (non)comment.

Anyway, the Barry piece is reprinted below for your amusement and convenience.

* * *

SUZYN WALDMAN And today’s salute to America was brought to you by Goldman Sachs, the world’s leading financial services firm. Goldman Sachs: Is this a great country or what?

And now, the voice of the New York Yankees, here’s Jawn Sterling.

JOHN STERLING Thank you, Suzyn. And tonight’s first thank you is brought to you by Spitzer for City Comptroller. Eliot Spitzer: No need to thank me!

It’s a lovely night here at Fenway Park, and leading off for the Yankees is the center fielder, Brett Gardner, hitting .272 with 7 home runs and 31 runs batted in. He has speed and power. Here’s Lackey’s first pitch and — a fastball, drilled foul down the first-base line. Boy, he hit that on the nose, Suzyn.

S.W. Yes, he di —

J.S. On the nose. And if you’re thinking of rhinoplasty, Suzyn, call the Cosmetic Surgery Center of New Jersey, Route 17, Paramus, right next to Dick’s Sporting Goods. Remember: The Cosmetic Surgery Center of New Jersey knows noses.

S.W. I don’t need —

J.S. Thuuuh pitch. And Gardner hits a fly ball deep to right-center field, Victorino back, back — home run! A Yardy! For Gardy!

S.W. Brett certainly got all of tha —

J.S. A Yardy! For Gardy! And the Yankees take a 1-0 lead.

Now Robbie Cano, the second baseman, settles into the batter’s box. A .294 batting average, with 20 home runs and 59 runs batted in. Robbie’s been struggling a little at the plate, but Suzyn, I ask you: how do you predict baseball?

S.W. You can’t really, it’s —

J.S. Exactly. You can throw the numbers out the window.

S.W. What?

J.S. Thuuuh pitch. High and outside, a hanging curve that never broke. That hanging curve brought to you by the State of Texas. We don’t hang ’em anymore, but we do the next best thing. Texas.

S.W. Actually, Jawn, I think that was a changeup that —

J.S. And Cano rockets one to right field. It is high, it is far, it is — gone! Home run! Robbie Cano, doncha know! It’s a back to back! And a belly to belly!

S.W. You know, Jawn, I’ve always wondered what that phrase means.

J.S. Back to back and belly to belly, and Gonnerman’s Deli in Manhasset has your belly lox, your Novi lox, any kind of lox. If something smells fishy — it’s Gonnerman’s.

S.W. Is that really their slogan?

J.S. Here’s Mark Teixeira, the veteran first baseman. Lackey wastes no time, wanting those two home runs well behind him in this first inning.

Thuuuh pitch. A long fly ball, well hit to center field, Ellsbury back, back — another home run! Three in a row! Back to back to back and belly to belly to belly! How about that! A text message from Teixeira!

S.W. Wait a second. Teixeira’s on the disabled list. OH NO! I’m having that dream again.

J.S. You’re on the mark, Teixeira!

S.W. Oh gawd. Get me out of here! Please, somebody, wake me up!

J.S. (singing) “Wake me up before you go-go.” That musical interlude sponsored by George Michael. Yeah. I’m still around. George Michael.

S.W. Oh no.

J.S. Oh yes! Sir Lancelot rides to the rescue! C’est lui! C’est lui!

S.W. Jawn, please stop. Lance Berkman’s not even on the team anymore.

J.S. Vernon Wells, the left fielder, takes a fastball, low and outside, Ball 1. Batting just .237, but with 10 home runs and 35 ribbies.

Thuuuh pitch. Down in the dirt, Ball 2.

Lackey steps off the mound to settle himself. Goes into his windup. And — Ball 3. That Ball 3 sponsored by the Double Entendres Gentlemen’s Club, Hempstead Turnpike, Uniondale. That’s what she said! Double Entendres.

S.W. What’s the double entendre to Ball 3?

J.S. Really, Suzyn? Really?

S.W. This is only a dream. This is only a dream. This is —

J.S. Thuuuh pitch. Wells lofts one down the left-field line, a skyscraper, high enough to clear the Green Monster.

S.W. Go foul.

J.S. If it’s fair it’s gone, it’s —

S.W. Go foul. Go foul!

J.S. Stay fair! And it does! The Yankees now have a 4-0 lead.

S.W. I’m begging you, Jawn. Stop. Please stop.

J.S. The Bronx is Vernon!

S.W. We’re in Boston.

J.S. Wells rings the bell!

S.W. Shut. Up. Please. Just. Shut. Up.

J.S. My next breath is sponsored by the Spellman Brothers Funeral Home, Hylan Boulevard, Staten Island. When your next breath is your last, we’re here for you. Spellman Brothers.

S.W. I hate you.

J.S. Now the Yankees’ center fielder, Curtis Granderson, settles into the batter’s box.

S.W. Granderson? He’s been out for months. This isn’t even the right lineup!

J.S. Exactly, Suzyn. How do you predict baseball? Lackey deals, and Granderson sends a bullet down the right-field line. If it stays fair it’s gone. It’s a home run! Five dingers in a row!

S.W. Aaaaggh!

J.S. Oh Curtis! You’re something sort of grandish!


J.S. (singing) The Grandyman can, oh the Grandyman can …


(The sound of a scuffle in the broadcasting booth.)


J.S. How do you predict baseball, Suzyn. Suzyn? She was here a minute ago. Anyway, you can throw the numbers out the window. A nuke from Youk! The Pronks Bomber! An A-Bomb! From A-Rod!

And the Yankees win. THUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU — (a pause as J.S. takes a sip of water) — UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUH Yankees win!

Speaking of annoying, I’m hoping, no praying, that Chris Berman does not do the All Star Game Home Run Derby this year. How many times can you listen to “backbackback? as the ball leaves the park?

Now hear this: Peter Ephross

Posted on: June 20th, 2013 by Ron Kaplan

The author of Jewish Major Leaguers in Their Own Words: Oral Histories of 23 Players was a recent guest at the Bergino Baseball Clubhouse to discuss the backstory of his book.

You can hear the discussion here.


Shameless self-promotion: Words, June 9

Posted on: June 5th, 2013 by Ron Kaplan

NOTE: This post will remain at the top of the blog until Sunday, so scroll down for the latest Jewish sports news.

Assuming I don’t get seriously injured during a doubleheader that morning…

People of the book

Posted on: May 10th, 2013 by Ron Kaplan

Larry Ruttman, author of the well-received American Jews and America’s Game: Voices of a Growing Legacy in Baseball, will be part of “Baseball — Kosher Style,” a panel moderated by Alan Dershowitz on May 13 at the 92 Street Y. Joining Ruttman will be film critic-slash-hardcore baseball fan Jeffrey Lyons and former JML Bob Tufts. For more information go here.




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