Archive for the ‘Trivia’ 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.



Tirvia time

Posted on: March 3rd, 2016 by Ron Kaplan

Not to make light of the subject….

This comes via my Facebook friend and Jewish sports ace Maxwell K.:

What is the only major league baseball team to display an Israeli flag on its uniform? And why? (It’s because of someone “Who Is Jewish” but not necessarily a player or somebody else in baseball)


The flag was a memorial tribute to an Israeli who had an association with an American city with a major league team. No, not the 1972 Oakland A’s. Some of the players wore armbands after the Munich Olympics but everyone on this team wore the patch with the Israeli flag.

Continue for answer

The answer: The Houston Astros


The reason: In tribute to Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon, who died in the crash of the space shuttle Columbia in 2003.


The traveling Jew in sports (or, "Rooting for laundry")

Posted on: April 17th, 2013 by Ron Kaplan

I keep a spreadsheet table for the current MOTs in the four major food groups professional sports leagues. In looking it over today, I was amazed how many had switched teams since the last time I updated it last October.

Among those who have switched laundry:


  • Kevin Youkilis – Red Sox to Yankees
  • Michael Schwimer – Phillies to Blue Jays
  • Craig Breslow – As to Red Sox
  • Scott Feldman – Rangers to Cubs
  • Danny Valencia – Twins to Orioles (currently in the minors)


  • Jeff Halpern – Rangers to Canadiens
  • Michael Cammalleri – Canadiens to Flames
  • Mike Brown – Maple Leafs to Oilers
  • Eric Nystrom – Wild to Stars
  • Dylan Reese – Islanders to Penguins (currently in minors)


  • Antonio Garay – Chargers to Jets

The lists do not include those who were playing in the sport last year but are not this year, for whatever reason.


Closing out the year: The top 10 Jewish athletes

Posted on: December 28th, 2012 by Ron Kaplan

as per Jewocity.

The eclectic group includes:

  1. Aly Raisman (Olympics)
  2. Ryan Braun (baseball)
  3. Ian Kinsler (baseball)
  4. Nate Freman (baseball)
  5. Jo Aleh (Olympics)
  6. Dara Torres (Swimming)
  7. Yossi Benayoun (soccer)
  8. Anthony Ervin (Olympics)
  9. Michael Cammalleri (hockey)
  10. Adam Greenberg (baseball)

Not sure what the criteria was but the only one that raises my eyebrows is Cammalleri, who had a very contentious season. If one has to pick a hockey player, I might have gone with Eric Nystrom, who will coach the U.S. hockey team at the next Maccabiah Games. But overall, this is a nice collection (and at least everyone on it is actually Jewish; not like those who insist on including guys like Julian Edelman or Amar’e Stoudemire).


Now hear these: Author event podcasts from the Bergino Baseball Clubhouse

Posted on: November 14th, 2011 by Ron Kaplan

One of my long-overdue projects is an entry about the BBC, located at 67 East 11th Street in Manhattan. The tiny store run by Jay Goldberg is part gift shop, part gallery and features an eclectic collection of photos, sketches, and paintings, as well as the occasional sculpture or word-work. Goldberg, a former sports agent, likes to give new artists the opportunity to show their baseball-related work.

(The store also offers “Judaica baseballs,” one of which Goldberg was kind enough to present to me on a visit earlier this year. Hanukka is just around the corner, you know.)

Despite the small setting, Goldberg regularly hosts programs of artists, authors, and other folks (tomorrow night’s program is “Scouts Honor: An Evening of Baseball Conversation,” with three noted scouts). He recently hosted appearances by Chad Harbach, author of the critically acclaimed novel, The Art of Fielding; Marty Dobrow (Knocking on Heaven’s Door: Six Minor Leaguers in Search of the Baseball Dream ); Kostya Kennedy (56: Joe DiMaggio and the Last Magic Number in Sports); and Matthew Silverman (New York Mets: 50 Amazin’ Seasons).

Goldberg records each event and makes them available for download as a podcast on iTunes, as well as streaming from his website. The audio isn’t the greatest, but the guests make the effort worthwhile.

Become a Facebook friend of the Bergino Baseball Clubhouse for regular updates.

Goldberg was himself the subject of a brief story on WNYC radio earlier this month:

Tying up the laces and hitting the (fantasy) hardwood

Posted on: December 2nd, 2010 by Ron Kaplan

Although I occasionally indulge, I’m not too souped when it comes to fantasy sports. Some people take it waaaaay too seriously. Taking it a step further, FS can actually detract from the enjoyment of the real thing, when practitioners come to care more about what individual players can “do for me” as an ersatz general manager than they do for their real-life teams. As much as I enjoy statistics, especially in baseball, more of the analytical materials seem to be geared for FS enthusiasts.

Having said that…

Tablet.com “teamed up with FreeDarko, the amazing five-year-old collective of basketball writers known for its wit, one-of-a-kind drawings, and revealing focus on unorthodox statistics, to let you select your top all-time Jewish-American starting five, plus a Jewish coach.”

There are only three choices per position, but you can check out their “profiles” to make an informed decision (if they did this for political elections and made it more interactive and enjoyable, they might get a better voter turnout).

Check it out here.

These are my guys…

…and this is the analysis for that lineup:

With most of your players born after 1938 and standing over 6’5″, the TCP are likely to play an athletic and up-tempo game, jolted by fast breaks, three-point shots, and plenty of dunks.

Chemistry: FAIR
Not surprisingly, more than half your team hails from New York City. Whether this helps or hurts team chemistry is up for debate.

Coaching: GREAT
Coach Auerbach will love this team’s up-tempo play and the athletic style, but will still likely trade half the team by the All-Star break.

X-Factor: Dolph Schayes
Congrats, you picked the best Jewish basketball player of the modern era. You should have a sizable advantage in this contest.


Just what we needed: more "smart Jew" stereotypes

Posted on: September 29th, 2010 by Ron Kaplan

Several weeks ago, following Amar’e Stoudemire’s proclamation that he “might have Jewish blood,” several sports websites rushed out their lists of top Jewish athletes. The results bordered on the bizarre, with the inclusion of several people who a) were not MOT, and b) had no business being on such lists, given the more prominent personalities who were omitted.

The Sporting News, which used to be known as “the bible of baseball,” offers  its picks of “Wise Guys: Sports’ Smartest Athletes.” And, goody-goody for us, two JMLs were in the top 10. Craig Breslow was adjudged the brightest of the bright, beating out Rhodes Scholar Myron Rolle for top honors. Brad Ausmus came in at No. 9.

Here’s the down-low on the scholars from TSN:

1. Craig Breslow, RP, Oakland A’s

• Age: 30

• On-field accomplishments: Ranks among the A.L. leaders in games pitched, 2.93 ERA in five major league seasons.

• Alma mater, major, GPA: Yale, molecular biophysics and biochemistry, 3.5. He was accepted to NYU’s med school.

• SAT/MCAT score: 1420 SAT, 34 MCAT (The average score for med school applicants is about 28.)

• Languages: “English and Spanish.”

• Off-field/intellectual interests: “Running the Strike 3 Foundation, a nonprofit that raises awareness and support for pediatric cancer research.”

• What I’m reading now: “The House Advantage: Playing the Odds to Win Big in Business, by Jeffrey Ma.”

• If I weren’t a professional athlete, I’d … “Be in med school or preferably have graduated from med school.”

• Nerdiest thing about me: “I submitted the IRS Form 1023 myself during spring training. The 1023 is a comprehensive document which files for tax deductibility (for a nonprofit organization). (I filled it out) after being largely unable to find an accountant with the time to do this during tax season.”

• Smartest teammate I’ve had: “(My) 2003 minor league teammate and former Yale teammate Jon Steitz, son of Nobel Prize winner Tom Steitz.”

* * *

9. Brad Ausmus, C, Los Angeles Dodgers

• Age: 41

• On-field accomplishments: 1-time All-Star, 3-time Gold Glove winner. Has the third-most putouts by a catcher in MLB history (12,828), ranks seventh all-time in games played at the position (1,936).

• Alma mater, major, GPA: Dartmouth, government. “Don’t know what my GPA was, but I never received a grade below ‘B’ in any class.”

• SAT score: 1220

• Languages: “I am not fluent in any language other than English, but I can hold a conversation in Spanish.”

• What I’m reading now: “I just read The Lost City of Z, by David Grann. Moving on to The Accidental Billionaires, by Ben Mezrich.”

• If I weren’t a professional athlete, I’d … “I’ve been playing baseball so long, I’m not sure what I would be doing without it. I always assumed that I would have gone to law school after college. My friends and family will tell you I like a good argument.”

• Smartest teammates I’ve had: “Eric Bruntlett, Stanford grad, and Mark Loretta (Northwestern).”

You can see who else made the Dean’s List here, as well as a discussion about the gentlemen (what, no props to the ladies?) here. Thanks to Marc Tracy of Tablet who first blogged about the happy news.

I've got a little list…

Posted on: January 25th, 2010 by Ron Kaplan

Actually, the list belongs to Jeremy Fine, aka The Great Rabbino, who in turn submitted it to OyChicago in response to Spike.com’s list of the 10 greatest contemporary Jewish athletes. (FYI, Spike is one of those “testosterone-laden” outfits, i.e., heavy on girls, games, and gizmos.)

Spike’s list:

10) Jordan Farmar – Backup Point Guard Los Angeles Lakers
9) Marty Turco – Goalie Dallas Stars
8 ) Sue Bird – Starting Point Guard Seattle Storm
7) Kane – WWE Wrestler
6) Jason Lezak – Olympic Swimmer
5) Ian Kinsler – Starting Second Baseman Texas Rangers
4) Igor Olshansky – Starting Defensive Lineman Dallas Cowboys
3) Kevin Youkilis – Starting First/Third Baseman Boston Red Sox
2) Mike Cammalleri – Starting Left Wing Montreal Canadians
1) Ryan Braun – Starting Left Fielder Milwaukee Brewers

Fine’s list:

10) Yuri Foreman – World Boxing Association Super welterweight Champion
9) Sasha Cohen – Olympic Gold Medal Skater
8 ) Jason Lezak – Olympic Gold Medal Swimmer
7) Sue Bird – Starting Guard Seattle Storm
6) Andy Ram – 9th Ranked Doubles Player. 5th Ranked in Team Doubles.
5) Ian Kinsler – Starting Second Baseman Texas Rangers.
4) Omri Casspi – Starting Forward Sacramento Kings
3) Mike Cammalleri – Starting Left Wing Montreal Canadians
2) Ryan Braun – Starting Left Fielder Milwaukee Brewers
1) Kevin Youkilis – Starting First/Third Baseman Boston Red Sox

And, for what it’s worth, here’s my list:

10) Ram
9) Lezak
8 ) Foreman
7) Dimitry Salita – junior welterweight boxer
6) Casspi
5) Kinsler
4) Jason Marquis – pitcher, Washington Nationals
3) Cammalleri
2) Braun
1) Youkilis

And they said it wouldn't last

Posted on: October 27th, 2009 by Ron Kaplan

Kaplans Korner turns one year old today!

"'Kaplan's Korner' turns one year old today!"

Stein, for the prosecution

Posted on: September 2nd, 2009 by Ron Kaplan

Bob Stein, a former Super Bowl-winning NFLer is back in the news, according to this piece in the AP. He’s representing a group of former players who want a piece of the action as the NFL continues to make money off their names and images.

The other players listed in the suit are Jim Marshall, Ed White, Joe Senser, Fred Dryer and Dan Pastorini.

Stein played seven years with the Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Rams, San Diego Chargers, and Vikings.

Rachmones for the underdog!


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