The first set of Jewish baseball cards issued in 2003 was a sellout. A new update set features rookie cards and a new discovery.
The 2007 Update Edition of Jewish Major Leaguers trading cards, featuring eleven new cards and incorporating the previously released 55-card set of a year ago, is on sale now through the American Jewish Historical Society.
The set is a follow-up to the hit series of 2003, considered one of the most successful “niche” card sets to ever be introduced in the hobby, and the source of a wealth of attention and publicity. That set, limited to 15,000 and a sellout, led to a weekend seminar at the Baseball Hall of Fame to further pursue the topic. Eight of the players from the original set participated in that seminar.
The 2007 Update Edition is limited to 5,000 sets. The set was printed by The Upper Deck Company, and is licensed by Major League Baseball Properties and the Major League Baseball Players Association.
“Nearly four years after our original edition, we still get daily requests for it,” noted Martin Abramowitz, who created the set and has lovingly tended to its updates. “Because it’s baseball, issuing this information in card form just resonated with fans and captured the public’s imagination. The updates are a direct response to public demand, and we are happy to provide them. We think the cards in the 2007 Update Edition will keep the conversations lively when the subject is Jews in baseball.”
Included are updated “career leader” cards for Jewish players, showing Shawn Green closing in on Hank Greenberg’s records. Green trails Greenberg 331-318 in home runs, and 1276-1024 in RBIs. Green is also second to Buddy Myer in hits, 2131-1873 (with Brad Ausmus and Mike Lieberthal in the top ten), while Jason Marquis is now 8th in victories (where Ken Holtzman, not Sandy Koufax, is the all-time leader). Marquis is also 8th in strikeouts, with Scott Schoeneweis 10th, a department Koufax does lead.
Featured in the set is a card with two 2006 rookies, Ian Kinsler of Texas and Jason Hirsh of Houston, who in August formed an all-Jewish battery with Ausmus, believed to be the first Jewish battery in more than 40 years, when Koufax and Norm Sherry were with the Dodgers.
There is a “newly discovered” card for Hall of Famer Lou Boudreau, who starred for Cleveland in the 1940s and broadcast in Chicago Cubs baseball for three decades. It turns out that Boudreau’s mother was Jewish, a fact he confirmed to the New York Times’ Ira Berkow.
There is also a “newly discovered” card for Bill Hurst, who pitched two innings for the Marlins in 1996 and was previously not listed on the all-time Jewish player roster.
A card celebrates three young players in 2006, John Grabow of Pittsburgh, Scott Feldman of Texas and Adam Greenberg who moved to the Dodgers organization after his one-pitch Major League debut in 2005, when he was hit in the head on the first pitch he saw while appearing for the Cubs.
A “Four Red Sox” card includes Kevin Youkilis, Gabe Kapler, Adam Stern and Craig Breslow, and notes that Youlikis, Kapler and Breslow appeared on the field at the same time, certainly a rarity in baseball history.
A four veterans card salutes Ausmus, Lieberthal, Marquis, and the now-retired Al Levine, and a mid-season moves card shows Schoeneweis in his Cincinnati uniform and Green in his New York Mets uniform.
Another card of note shows the founder (Larry Baras) and the commissioner (Daniel Kurtzer) of the in-formation Israel Baseball League, that nation’s first pro baseball league. The league begins play in June, 2007.
A card featuring old timer Johnny Kling on the front poses the question of whether Kling, and Hall of Famer Rod Carew, are Jewish, a topic much assumed among fans. The answer is both cases is no, Carew never having converted and Kling not passing historical examination by the panel of experts who decide.
Finally, there is a ‘reprint’ of a card of 1914 Baltimore Terrapin player Guy Zinn, a Jewish player from the Federal League. The card is considered a great rarity, only one known to exist. It was issued as part of a set from the Baltimore News, and is valued as high as $8,000 in top condition.
The new set is packaged in a strong clear plastic box, suitable for display, and available online at ajhs.org, or by calling 1-866-740-8013. It sells for $36 plus shipping and handling, and is produced by the American Jewish Historical Society in partnership with Jewish Major Leaguers.
Jewish Major Leaguers is a Boston-based, not-for-profit Jewish baseball history organization with a mission to document America’s Jews in America’s Game. In addition to the card sets and the Cooperstown seminar, the organization is working on a volume of oral history interviews of former players, and providing guest lectures. The website for the organization is www.jml.org.
The American Jewish Historical Society is the oldest national ethnic historical organization in the United States. Its mission is to foster awareness and appreciation of the American Jewish heritage and to serve as a national scholarly resource for research through the collection, preservation and dissemination of materials relating to American Jewish history.