Last week I posted about a rare Guy Zinn baseball card and the battle between buyer and seller, as reported in The New York Times. That piece of paper was rendered even more vauable because of Zinn’s supposedly Jewish religion.
I hope that guy didn’t sign the check yet because there are some question circulating about that aspect.
Bob Wechsler, author of Day by Day in Jewish Sports History, is at the forefront of digging when something like this comes up. In a recent entry to the Yahoo Jewish Sports Collectors group, Wechsler wrote
Last week’s New York Times article on the Guy Zinn card got some of us wondering again about the sketchy information identifying Zinn as Jewish.
I wrote to the Baseball Hall of Fame library, and they sent me a scan of Zinn’s biographical questionnaire (see attached). He is listed as a German-Jew. As far as I know, this is the ONLY known reference to Zinn being Jewish.
I also noticed that the form was not filled out by Zinn himself (because it includes death information), but by a Mrs. E.W. (Jean) Talley of Louisiana. Talley is Guy Zinn’s daughter.
We received a note at jewishbaseballmuseum.com from an Elaine Hirschberg, who read the N.Y. Times article and became interested in Zinn’s background. She has spent the week diligently doing research on ancestry.com and came up with the following findings:
I am certain that Guy’s mother’s ancestors and Guy’s paternal mother’s ancestors are all Christians from England/Wales who arrived in America 400 years ago plus.
I am certain that Guy’s father’s paternal ancestors were all Christians from Germany when they arrived in America 400 plus years ago.
New info: Guy’s sister Wilma was married on Christmas Eve by a Methodist Minister in the parsonage. Guy’s grandfather Quilly Manley Zinn is buried with family member in the Oxford Cemetery next to the Baptist church.
Who is Mrs. E.W. Talley (Jean) who either signed the form from Baseball Hall of Fame Research dept or gave the info? Important note- there is no date on this form. When was the information given?
She is Jean Zinn, Guy’s daughter. She lived with him as an infant. He also has a son Guy Zinn Jr. who died young, at age 26 and he had one daughter who died at age 2. Guy Zinn Jr. has no living children.
Jean Zinn was married at least 4 times, to a Talkington, a Hanson, Emmett William Talley and a Ronn. She married Hanson in 1949, don’t know when they divorced. She divorced EW Talley in 1973 so that slightly narrows down when the Baseball form was filled out. She may have divorced Hanson in the 50’s or 60’s, married Talley in the 50’s or 60’s and divorced him in 1973. Don’t know. Jean had one son as far as I can tell. He died in 2012. As far as I can tell he had no children. Jean possibly has no living children or grandchildren.
I have NO idea why Jean said her father’s descent was German-Jew. But she, or someone on her behalf put it on that form. I’d be curious when the information was given and if that is the only piece of paper that contains that information.
Many Americans think they have Native American ancestry until they take their DNA test and realize it was just a family legend.
A mystery, to me anyway.
And from an earlier email:
Guy had two children (his daughter’s son is buried in military cemetery with a Christian cross on his headstone) and I will do some more research on them but it’s important to note that by the 1920 census Guy Zinn’s wife was already living separately from him. She is living with her parents and the two children who were 9 and 10 at that time. Not knowing when they separated, it’s possible the children spent little time with him as youngsters and it’s possible they didn’t know him at all. Especially with him being on the road playing baseball from 1911-1915.
About five years ago I wrote a blog about the Zinn card going on eBay at a price of $250,000. The Spiker family of West Virginia linked the blog on the family history website. I read the diary of the family matriarch, and it was full of Christian quotations. The web manager said the family was puzzled by the Jewish reference, but Guy Zinn was a distant cousin on the other side of the family with which they had little contact. Last night I wrote back to the web manager with newer information and am awaiting a reply.
Anyway, what do you think? Do we keep Zinn on the list, take him off, or hope some other clue appears down the road?
An awful lot of fuss for a Guy (heh) who played just about 60 games a year over five seasons ( and two of those were in the Federal League).
Thanks, Bob, for doing the yeoman’s work on this.
Reminds me of the “Buddy Myer case.” He was a pretty good little second baseman mostly for the Washington Senators from 1925-41 (with two season spent on the Red Sox). Here’s what I wrote about him in a previous entry concerning the dubious identity of hockey player Andre Burakovsky of the Washington Capitals earlier this year. Seems Andrea was staring to take exception over being considered a Jew and vehemently denied it on Twitter. Anyway, about Myer:
Buddy Myer was a major leaguer for almost 20 years, mostly with the Washington Senators. People assumed he was Jewish because of his name (and you know what happens when you ass-u-me). Sportswriters identified him thus. He’s included in several books about Jews and the national pastime and was even inducted in the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.
Myer, who is interred in a Christian cemetery, never thought to deny it, thinking it would make him look bad or some such thing. In fact, at one point the family did have Jewish roots, but they converted out of the faith either before he was born or when he was just a lad.
One of those sportswriter was Shirley Povich, who worked for the Washington Post for 70 years. Following a game between the Senators and Yankees in which Myer was intentionally spiked by Ben Chapman, an unrepentant bigot, Povich wrote that “Chapman cut a swastika with his spikes on Myer’s thigh.” It had always been assumed that it was because the second baseman was a Jew and it didn’t help clear things up that Myer never denied it. So for years he was considered one of the greatest Jewish players and included in books about Jewish athletes. He’s even an inductee to the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in Israel.