Ron Lewis, well known among collectors for his iconic artwork featuring living members of baseball’s 500 home run club, 3,000 hit club, its 3,000-strikeout pitchers, and hockey’s 500 goal scorers, has completed a new lithograph presenting 26 living Jewish baseball players.
The signed pieces, available for purchase in five editions, are presented by Art O Graphs Limited of Buffalo Grove, IL, where owner Greg Harris conceived the idea and then undertook the task of traveling the country to obtain the autographs of the players presented.
The lithographs are currently being signed and are expected to be ready to ship November 7. Each player depicted on the art is individually signing all 500 total prints, and with each print numbered, orders will be filled based on a first come first served basis, with the lowest numbered prints sold first. One-Of-A-Kind “Gold Issue” and “Greatest Moments” prints are expected to go quickly, according to promoters.
Featured on the lithograph is Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax, MVP award winners Al Rosen and Ryan Braun, Cy Young winner Steve Stone, All-Stars Shawn Green, Ian Kinsler, Kevin Youkilis, Brad Ausmus, Joe Horlen, Jason Marquis, and Richie Sheinblum, World Series players Art Shamsky, Gabe Kapler, Steve Yeager, Mike Epstein, and Scott Feldman, first designated hitter Ron Blomberg, plus Norm Sherry, (Dodgers player, Angels manager), John Grabow (.558 winning percentage), Craig Breslow (77 appearances in 2009), Norm Miller (10-year veteran), Ross Baumgarten (13-8 in 1979), Ike Davis (31 home runs in 2012), Sam Fuld (2011 Division champ), Ruben Amaro Jr., (now the Phillies GM), and “One More Pitch” wonder Adam Greenberg.
The painting also includes an unsigned image 27th figure, Hank Greenberg who died in 1986 and is considered the greatest Jewish hitter of all-time.
In addition to the players, shown in uniform standing on the field, “spectators” in the stands behind the grouping include Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, Cubs president Theo Epstein, 61* film producer Billy Crystal, broadcast legend Larry King, TV star/producer Rob Reiner, Diamondbacks president/CEO Derrick Hall, Dodgers broadcaster Charley Steiner, and the past and present Executive Directors of the Major League Baseball Players Association Marvin Miller and Michael Weiner.
Lewis, who lives in Pocatello, Idaho, created his “theme” paintings beginning with the 500 home run club, for a gathering of the living members, and his work immediately became accepted as a major work among sports collectibles. Collectors/Investors have done well with each of his prior works. Lewis himself stated “I believe this is one of my most unique and finest pieces yet, with the details of Jewish history subliminally placed throughout the litho.”
“This has been a golden age for Jewish baseball players,” noted Art O Graphs’ Greg Harris. “Where once they seldom appeared on the scene, there are now typically 12-15 in each season. Jews have always loved baseball – the games, the players, the trivia, the stats, the literature, the collectibles, and now – they can add art to the list, art that can be enjoyed every day while hanging on their wall.”
Describing the task, Harris noted, “The logistics of putting this project together was daunting. Dealing with all 36 people’s schedules, and traveling the country with the 500 lithos to have each individually sign every piece was a true team effort. We saw a tiny window of opportunity to complete this project, while including greats from the past like 88-year old Al Rosen and 95-year old Marvin Miller, while also being able to include the newly established stars to emerge, like Braun, Kinsler and Youkilis. Of course, having seldom-seen Sandy Koufax agree to participate and enthusiastically get behind the litho was the icing on the cake. This was well worth the undertaking as it is a historic litho that will stand the test of time.”
During the signing sessions, various players expressed their enthusiasm for the project, including Koufax, who noted, “The details of the players, Jewish baseball history and hidden Jewish symbolisms depicted in this print are incredible and well thought out. By including Hank Greenberg and Marvin Miller, this print pays tribute to two well deserving men.” Steve Stone admired the print, commenting, “This print is unbelievably historic in that it has never been done before and can never be duplicated due to the perfect timing of its creation. This will be an incredibly desirable collectors item handed down from generation to generation.”
Some history: Lipman Pike was the first Jewish player (1866). Among the early Jewish pioneers in the game was the Pittsburgh Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss, a Hall of Famer. Hank Greenberg became the first great Jewish star; Moe Berg, while not a star, is famous for his work as a World War II OSS officer. After the war, Lou Boudreau and Al Rosen excelled, and Koufax, who was elected to the Hall of Fame at age 36, remains an icon to millions of baseball fans for his accomplishments on the field.
In the last decade, in addition to the influx of Jewish players, there has been a trading card set in several editions depicting all Jewish players, a professional league in Israel with a film made of that experience, as well as one narrated by Dustin Hoffman on Jews in Baseball, and several books on the subject. Most recently, Israel was invited to qualify for the World Baseball Classic, a team managed by Brad Ausmus and populated largely by Jewish American minor league players. Among the players on that team was Adam Greenberg, who had been struck in the head by the only pitch he saw, while with the Cubs in 2005. A movement to get him “one more at bat” resulted in his signing a one-day contract with the Miami Marlins, an appearance on The Today Show – and that long awaited second at bat earlier this month.
The 24” x 36” lithographs are being sold as follows:
Series 1: The Rookie of the Year Limited Edition series (limited to 100). Each regular print in the edition sells for $6,500 (numbers 2-100), while Artist print #1 and six exclusive issue prints, called “Gold Issue,” are priced at $8,000 each. The Gold Issue lithographs in this and other series are signed in gold ink with a special “Gold Issue” inscription and accompanying certificate, making these one of a kind. Each Gold Issue lithograph is numbered to correspond to a significant Jewish fact – #5 (Hank Greenberg’s uniform number), #6 (in memory of the 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust), #8 (Ryan Braun’s number), #18 (Chai, or Life), #32 (Sandy Koufax’s number) and #48 (for the year 1948 when Israel became a state).
Series II: The Cy Young Award Limited Edition series (limited to 100). Each signature in this series is accompanied by an additional inscription, such as “HOF ‘72” for Sandy Koufax, “1953 MVP” for Al Rosen, or “2011 MVP” for Ryan Braun. Each regular print in the edition sells for $7,500 except for Artist print #1, as well as “Gold Issue” #5, #6, #8, #18, #32 and #48 at $9,000.
Series III: The Most Valuable Player Award Limited Edition Series (limited to 100). This larger size edition, 26 ½” x 40, is professionally printed on artist’s canvas. It mirrors Series I in all other ways, with the edition priced at $7,500 and numbers 1, plus the Gold Issue – 5, 6, 8, 18, 32 and 48 – at $9,000.
Series IV: The World Series Champion Limited Edition Series (limited to 100). This edition adds the autographs of nine of the celebrity spectators in the crowd, such as Bud Selig, Marvin Miller, Jerry Reinsdorf, Theo Epstein, Larry King, and others. The edition sells for $8,500, with numbers 1, plus 5, 6, 8, 18, 32 and 48 – the Gold Issue – $10,000 each.
Series V: The Hall of Fame Limited Edition Series (limited to 100). The lithos in this series are truly each One-Of-A-Kind. This edition identifies 100 Great Moments in Jewish Baseball History (individually inscribed on each lithograph), and has a corresponding certificate to detail it, matching the number of the edition, and co-signed by the featured player. The complete list is on the website, www.Jewishbaseballplayer.com, and includes such moments as Al Rosen’s MVP season, Shawn Green’s four home run game, Ryan Braun’s MVP season, and a number of Koufax tributes for his overall career and individual seasons. The edition sells for $8,500 each, with #1 plus the Gold Issue priced at $10,000. (Each Koufax Moment, which includes the corresponding certificate also originally signed by Koufax are an additional $500).
The editions are licensed by MLB and by the MLB Players Association and signed by the artist.
All purchasers receive an accompanying DVD, including the highlights of the Making of the Litho and actual video from various signings, along with a booklet about the work, the players depicted, the artist, and the history of Jews in baseball. Each litho will be beautifully presented in high quality matting and framing in choices of three colors and three styles, with a guarantee of authenticity through a “triple certification” method provided by Major League Baseball, as well as Art O Graphs. The certification process includes photos of the players signing, an MLB hologram sticker with an individual identification number which can be tracked and confirmed via MLB’s website, and a COA sworn under oath and guaranteed. Each signing was personally witnessed by an authenticator screened and hired by MLB. In most cases, the authenticators are off duty police officers.
Each player designated a charity to receive a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the lithograph. The charities include Jewish United Fund, Wounded Warriors, JDRF Tampa Bay Chapter, The Sunshine Kids, Youk’s Kids, Mission Stadium for Multiple Sclerosis, the Strike 3 Foundation, the Anti-Defamation League, Hadassah-Women’s Zionist Organization of America, the United Jewish Communities, B’Nai B’rith, United Israel Appeal, the Israel Association of Baseball, the Miracle League of the Arizona Baseball Organization, the Jim Catfish Hunter ALS Foundation, Make a Wish, Moffit Cancer Foundation, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Cubs Care, White Sox Charities, Phillies Charities, the Ashburn-Kalas Foundation, the YMCA of Philadelphia and Vicinity, the Doug Davis Foundation, Open Arms-South Africa, Medical Memories, and the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation, Inc.
Art O Graphs welcomes inquiries from all charities to become a Charity Beneficiary of this historic project. Simply contact Greg Harris at [email protected] to see if you qualify. All qualifying charities can earn 10% of all sales made through their efforts. Their efforts can be substantial, or as minimal as sending an email blast to their mailing list. Regardless of the extent of effort, the qualifying charity will receive a donation equal to 10% of all purchases made through their effort.
Lithographs will be presented to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, and the baseball complex to be built in Israel by the Israel Association of Baseball.
Sponsors of the work include Salterra Web Design, the Doug Davis Foundation and Eisen Video Productions.
Orders may be made by mail to Art O Graphs, Ltd., 471 Thorndale Dr., Buffalo Grove, IL 60089, or by fax to 312 624-9979. Check, credit card or PayPal is accepted. Details for ordering are online at www.JewishBaseballPlayer.com. A non refundable deposit of $500 is required to reserve a lithograph and to have a reservation date stamped, assuring the lowest number available. Lower numbers, the Gold Series numbers, and the Koufax moments from the Hall of Fame series are expected to be claimed early. For a courtesy two-day hold on a lithograph or for additional questions, collectors can call 847 924-6140.