Archive for the ‘Collectibles’ Category


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 JewishBaseballNews.com.



They used to cost a penny…AND you got free gum

Posted on: December 19th, 2016 by Ron Kaplan

This story from The New York Times about the baseball card hobby goes from A (Jeff Aeder, aka the prospective buyer) to Z (Guy Zinn, the rare item in question).

http://www.spikerfamily.com/files/resized/244181/500;688;f3852d84bd695a624f23a948954a1edbf9174ef9.jpgIt also comes on the heels of a discovery I had in my attic while looking for books to donate to the nearby Yogi Berra Museum: a box of 1969 Topps cards. It’s not a complete set — it’s missing about 10 cards — but the nostalgia is more important to me.

Long story short: “Aeder offered $125,000 for the card in 2014 and nearly claimed it. But the deal went sour at the last minute. Aeder balked because, he said, he received a poor appraisal of the card’s condition. The owner, Dan McKee of Baltimore County, refused to renegotiate.”

“If Zinn was not a Jewish player, this card is probably worth $10,000,” Aeder said. “If you talk to any dealer or collector, they’ll say McKee’s idea of value is the most overblown, crazy valuation of all time.”

So why was Aeder willing, at one point, to pay $125,000? “It really is something that if you have the means and the obsession, then someone pays a lot more than it’s worth,” he said.

Aeder is the founder of the online Jewish Baseball Museum. No doubt this would add gravitas to his project. Although as a “virtual” entity, does it really matter? It’s like listening to a ventriloquist on the radio.


Is you is or is you ain’t my player?

Posted on: December 9th, 2016 by Ron Kaplan

With apologies to Louis Jordan

Just because baseball’s winter meetings are over doesn’t mean player transactions are, too.

Rumors are still swirling:

Frankly, I think it’s fun when players switch teams. When I was a kid the baseball card technology was for crap. The way they were distributed at the time, you could get one “series” every month or so from March through September (there were usually seven). The cards in the last group were considered more valuable and, IMO, always looked better than those coming out early in the year. And if a player in that later series had been traded over the course of the season, you could get something that looked like these:

“The blank hat”


“The air-brush”


“The underbill”


“The bare head”


It’s my understanding — and I’m sure the real story is out there somewhere — that the Topps photographers took one shot with the player in uniform and one without a cap, “just in case.” Airbrushing became more prevalent in the 1970s but as you can tell from the Lolich card, the results weren’t very artistic.

And remember, prior to the 1980s there was only Topps back them, aside from the attempt by Fleer to break into the industry. Nowadays there are multiple card companies, each providing more than one set. One thing that’s true for all, the photography has greatly improved. The same can’t always be said for the cards’ designs.

I wonder in which language he signed? #MoeBerg

Posted on: November 15th, 2016 by Ron Kaplan

It’s been said about Moe Berg that he could speak seven (or 10 or 12) languages but couldn’t hit in any of them.

Baseball signed by World War II spy sells for over $17,000


One of only two baseballs known to be signed by Moe Berg, a former major league catcher who served as a U.S. spy and spoke seven languages, sold for $17,029.

The ball sold early Friday in a two-week online auction run by Huggins & Scott of Silver Spring, Maryland. The buyer was not named.

There are a few excellent biographies about the mysterious MOT, but I’m still waiting for a biopic, a la 42 for Jackie Robinson or Fear Strikes Out for Jimmy Piersall. Somebody get on that, will you?


Reviewing the Review

Posted on: April 5th, 2016 by Ron Kaplan

http://jewishsportsreview.com/images/jsr.jpgRecently received the March/April issue of the Jewish Sports Review. Highlights include:

  • 2015 College Football All-America Team (Jewish version)
  • NFL season in review
  • 2015 High School Football Seasons
  • 2016 College Baseball Preview
  • 2016 College Softball Preview
  • 2016 Men’s and Women’s College Lacrosse Preview
  • Sports Shorts
  • Israeli Sports
  • A “Jewish in Sports – Letter ‘S'” quiz

Subscriptions are $36 for one year, $60 for two. Given that this kind of information isn’t available in this format anywhere else, it’s a must-read for fans of Jewish sports. Visit their website for more information.

Snow-shoveling as an Olympic sport, Third round

Posted on: February 3rd, 2014 by Ron Kaplan

Yeah, four to eight inches, right.

On the bright side, Spring Training is just around the corner.

When I was a kid, I looked forward with great anticipation to the release of the new set of Topps baseball cards. Now…

Card set image 2014

From JewishMajorLeaguers.org:

Order Now to assure delivery in time for Passover and Opening Day. We thought we were done in 2010, but you’ve asked us to keep this tradition going! This 50-card set includes all Jewish players during the 2010-2013 seasons, plus our usual assortment of Jewish baseball history cards, and listings of “Career Leaders” and our “All-time Roster.” Special Feature in this edition: Ten cards with items from a new Jews and Baseball exhibition at the National Museum of American Jewish History, including items lent by the American Jewish Historical Society. Attractively packaged for home or office display, this set is the perfect gift for Afikomen presents, birthdays, Fathers Day, anniversaries, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, or “just for the fun of it” for someone you love-including yourself.  $36 for the first set, $50 for two plus $5 shipping charge. Order by Paypal, or by check to JML, Inc. 104 Greenlawn Avenue Newton, MA 02459.  We are happy to mail directly as gifts, with notes from you.

Haven’t heard much about Ike Davis lately, but according to this story, Ian Kinsler vetoed a trade that would have moved him north of the border, to the Toronto Blue Jays.

Meanwhile Sam Fuld and Jason Marquis are still men without a team.


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.

The "mystery" of Mike Epstein

Posted on: October 4th, 2013 by Ron Kaplan

Bruce Markusen contributes an occasional “Card Corner” column to The Hardball Times website in which he attempts to tell the “back-story” of a given piece of cardboard. In this case, it was the 1973 Topps set feature Mike “SuperJew” Epstein. Nicely done.


What's in your wallet?

Posted on: September 17th, 2013 by Ron Kaplan

Or attic, or basement?

From the Yogi Berra Museum:

What’s your old signed baseball, family heirloom, or favorite piece of Americana worth?

Check out America’s Roadshow at the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center on Sat. Sept. 21 from 12 noon to 4 p.m.

Visitors can bring up to three items to be appraised by the trusted experts at Robert Edward Auctions, which specializes in the very best of baseball collectibles as well as other sport and non-sport memorabilia.

For more information, visit the Museum website.

Happy birthday, Sy Berger. You're the Topps.

Posted on: July 11th, 2013 by Ron Kaplan

Marty Appel posted this on Facebook:

Tomorrow (7/12) is the 90th birthday of Sy Berger. Some people can claim they invented the Internet or the automobile or the light bulb….Sy invented the modern baseball card. As a Topps employee after World War II service, he sat at his kitchen table and created the format we know so well – photo, name, team logo on the front, cartoon, stats, bio info on the back. How’s that as a gift to mankind? I’d take it. Happy birthday to Sy, and if you care to wish him well, I will forward all comments to him.



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