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March 2011

Beautiful Box Guarantees Collectors A 'Legend of the Hall'

Legends of the Hall Box Art When did a package design stopped you in your tracks?

For me, it happened just last week.

Browsing the shelves at my local card shop, a particularly beautiful display caught my eye.

The box for Historic Autographs 2011 "Legends of the Hall" issue features the image at right, a stunning depiction of a baseball game circa (to my estimation) the late 1800s.

The art was so fetching that I asked about the product. $100 (retail) would buy me a single card.

Lou Boudreau LOTHThis is no ordinary card, however.

Included in each box -- guaranteed -- is the PSA/DNA authenticated, slabbed, limited edition, autographed postcard plaque of one member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

The rear of the box included the series checklist. $100 might have purchased me a HOF plaque signed by Jewish Hall of Famers Lou Boudreau (commence arguing: Is he? Isn't he?), Hank Greenberg or Sandy Koufax.

For me, the $100 was too much. For some, the thrill of the pull might justify the cash.

If you're interested in the cards, but don't want to pay full price, sellers are offering unopened boxes of Legends of the Hall on eBay for less than $100.

Collectors can also buy individual Legends of the Hall cards. I found a listing for the Lou Boudreau card on eBay for substantially below the retail price of the box. My search found no listings, though, for 2011 Greenberg or Koufax issues.

So, would you drop a Benjamin for the chance to own a Lou, Hank or a Sandy? Did you buy any of the 2010 Legends of the Hall cards?

New Hank Greenberg Card, Biographies

Everything old is new again, as a recent Topps card and two just-released biographies concerning Hank Greenberg, the first Jewish superstar baseball player, demonstrate.

Topps Legendary Lineage: Hank Greenberg & Ike Davis

Greenberg-Davis LL Card The 2010 Topps Legendary Lineage card (#LL-67) compares the Tigers Hall of Famer to Mets first baseman Ike Davis, explicitly citing the Jewish link between the two players. It's available for $0.25-$4 on Beckett and eBay.

A slight aside ... the Greenberg-Davis card is not the only new Topps cardboard featuring two Jews.

Ryan Braun, Ike Davis Diamond DuosThe modern day "Hebrew Hammer," Brewers Ryan Braun, also shares pasteboard with Ike Davis on the 2011 Topps Diamond Duos (#DD-BD) card.

This card -- which sells for $1-2 on eBay and Beckett -- makes no mention of the players' Jewish heritage. 

Will you add the Greenberg-Davis card to your Jewish baseball collection? What about the Davis-Braun card? Will you attempt to get the later signed? 

New Greenberg Biographies: Book Review Preview

Greenberg Hero Cover Hammerin Hank Cover For Jewish baseball collectors who favor books over cards, there are two newly-released Greenberg biographies available.

The first is Hank Greenberg: The Hero Who Didn't Want to Be One by Mark Kurlansky. The book is the latest in the Yale University Press "Jewish Lives" series.

The second -- Hammerin' Hank Greenberg by Shelley Sommer -- is a Boyds Mills Press/Calkins Creek release targeted to young adult readers.

I recently received copies of both books from their respective publishers, and will post my reviews of them to JewishSportsCollectibles soon.

Do you plan to read the new Greenberg biography? Will you share Hammerin' Hank with the young baseball fans in your life?

New Topps Card Honors Sy Berger

As Topps celebrates its 60th anniversary, a new special insert baseball card pays homage to MOT Sy Berger, "the father of the modern bubble-gum card."

And, a new MLB Network documentary, Cardboard Treasure honors his life's work.

As Jewish baseball collectors almost certainly know, the tributes are well-deserved.

Sy Berger Histoy of ToppsNew Sy Berger Tribute Card

Collectors opening 2011 Topps Series 1 baseball card packs have a chance to find a "History of Topps" insert card (HOT-3) remembering the company's 1952 issue.

The card features a portrait of a young Sy Berger, set against a background of '52 beauties, the year "Sy Berger create[d] the first complete set."

The new card is selling for $0.25-$1.00 on Beckett. eBay sellers are offering the card for $2 or less.

Sy berger
This is not the first time Topps has honored Mr. Berger.

Mr. Berger's first pasteboard was in 2004, with a Topps Fan Favorite card (#137). The card is readily available on eBay or Beckett for less than $3. It comes in standard, refractor ($5-$10) and autograph ($10-$40, #CO-71/FFA-SB) issues.

 Jewish Major Leaguers also honored Mr. Berger's contributions in its 2009 (#35) edition.

MLB Network Documentary: Cardboard Treasures

MLB Network is celebrating Topps 60th anniversary by airing Cardboard Treasures. The documentary debuts at 10:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 29 (check the MLB Network program guide for additional showings.

While the program does not include an interview with Mr. Berger, according to spokesman Clay Luraski in an email to JewishSportsCollectibles, its does pay homage to him. And, rightly so. Any Topps retrospective would be incomplete without at least a tip of the cap to the man who spent 50 years designing, producing and marketing baseball and other sports and entertainment cards for the company.

A preview of Cardboard Treasures is embedded below.

A longer preview of the program is featured on

Other Berger Collectibles

Collectors interested in memorabilia featuring Mr. Berger, other than cards or the MLB Network documentary, have numerous options.

Robert Edward Auctions sold Mr. Berger's collection of Topps baseball card artwork in May 2010, as detailed in an earlier JSC post. The sale featured 150 lots of original Topps artwork, consigned directly by Mr. Berger. Collectors not fortunate to have participated in the sale can still enjoy viewing The Berger Collection in REA's permanent archives.

Sy berger lee may contract

As the person who signed thousands of players to their Topps contracts, Mr. Berger's signature appears on documents that regularly cross the virtual block. A signed contract (like this one for Lee May from my collection) can be found with some regularity on eBay. Expect to pay between $50 and $500, depending on the player -- Mickey Mantle's 1958 Topps contract is available on eBay for $15,000, if you've got extra cash lying around.

Player checks, signed by Mr. Berger occasionally crop up, too; these sell for $50 or more, depending on the player.

I'm sure they exist, but I've never seen a contract or check for a Jewish player's Topps card signed by Mr. Berger. Such a document would make a compelling addition to a Jewish baseball collection.

For those who favor books as collectibles, be sure to check out Topps Baseball Cards: The Complete Picture Collection. This richly illustrated coffee table book includes a section written by Mr. Berger.

Sy berger bizcard 2Another fascinating collectible, if you favor ephemera, is Mr. Berger's business card. I found one on eBay some time ago.

It has been my experience that Mr. Berger is a willing and generous through-the-mail signer.

Mr. Berger signed his 2004 Topps Fan Favorites card and his business card for me a few years ago via snail mail, and even included several additional variations of his business card with his response. Autograph collectors who mail to Mr. Berger today (email me for his address) may have a different experience today, due to Mr. Berger's advanced age.

Do you have Sy Berger memorabilia in your collection? If so, what is your favorite piece? Do you plan on buying the new Sy Berger "History of Topps" card? Does anyone have more recent experience with T-T-M autograph requests to Mr. Berger? Will you watch Cardboard Treasure on MLB Network?

Upcoming Signing: Ron Blomberg

"Designated Hebrew" Ron Blomberg -- the former Jewish Major Leaguer and Israel Baseball League manager best known for his appearance as baseball's first designated hitter -- will be signing autographs at the White Plains Collectors Show from 12-2 p.m. on Sunday, March 27.

Prices, according to an ad in the March 25 issue of Sports Collectors Digest, are as follows:

  • $10 for cards, photos (under 16X20") and other flat items -- including books, magazines, etc. -- supplied by collectors.
  • $15 for collector's bat, jersey or over-sized (16X20"+) photo.
  • $20 for promoter's 8X10 photo.
  • $30 for promoter's baseball.

Collectors can have Bloberg add one inscription to each autograph at no charge. Additional inscriptions cost $10 each.

For more information, and to confirm the status of the appearance, collectors should call JP's Sports/Rock Solid Promotions at (631) 243-1028.

Blomberg memorabilia is plentiful, affording collectors lots of choices -- both in terms of type and price point.

He is the subject of numerous cards. Blomberg's pasteboard includes vintage and modern issues, including Upper Deck's Yankees history and the Jewish Major Leaguers sets ( offers a complete checklist).

Ron Blomber 2003 Upper Deck Yankees Ron Blomberg 1972 Topps Ron Blomberg 2001 Upper Deck Ron Blomberg JML

Designated Hebrew The author of Designated Hebrew, Blomberg's story is also featured prominently in the Jews & Baseball: Volume 2, The Big Book of Jewish Baseball, and The Baseball Talmud. Movie collectors can find Blomberg featured in Holyland Hardball and Jews & Baseball: A Love Story.

Ron Blomberg Sports Illustrated cover Blomberg was also featured with Yankees teammate Bobby Mercer on the front cover of the July 2, 1973 issue of Sports Illustrated.

A frequent signer, Blomberg items -- including signed and inscribed baseballs, photos, bats, jerseys and cards -- are plentiful on, eBay and SCD offers a database of recent auction prices, allowing collectors to determine approximate values of Blomberg memorabilia.

Collectors can also purchase memorabilia directly from Blomberg, via his website.

Do you plan on attending the signing this weekend? Can you share stories of meeting Ron in-person? Do you have "The Designated Hebrew" in your collection? If so, what is your favorite piece of Blomberg memorabilia?

Colt Cabana: The First 'Openly Jewish' Wrestling Champion

Colt Cabana with the NWA Championship Belt According to a recent posting by The Great Rabbino, the latest addition to the short list of Jewish professional wrestling champions is Colt Cabana.

Cabana -- who The Rabbino calls "the first ever openly Jewish NWA Champion" -- joins Goldberg and Macho Man Randy Savage (the "who's Jewish" expert Neil Keller lists Savge as having a Jewish mother) as the sport's other champions.

Unlike Goldberg who has scads of memorabilia, Cabana doesn't get much love outside the ring.

He has no trading cards, action figures, etc. Surely, ephemera -- including programs, ticket stubs, promotional posters, etc. -- must exist from Cabana's long career.

I suspect this dearth of collectibles will change rapidly, however, as NWA marketers look to capitalize on the new champion's status. Banner The best source for Cabana memorabilia is the wrestler's web site.

Among the items for sale is are DVDs, posters, "worker shirts," wrestling masks, pins, photos and a variety of t-shirts. Prices range from $8-$20.

Colt Star Shirt The "I Jewish Star Colt" t-shirt ($20) and pin ($8) are likely to be the items of most interest to collectors seeking an obvious ethnic identity in their memorabilia.

On the open market, a search of Colt Cabana on eBay reveals hundreds of wrestling DVDs featuring the Jewish grappler, but little in the way of additional memorabilia. Ditto on

Entrepreneurial collectors might also be able to find memorabilia associated with the Jewish wrestler during his college football career at Western Michigan University -- where he played under his birth name, Scott Colton.

Cabana Poster Autograph collectors wishing to meet Cabana can find a list of his upcoming appearances on his web site.

Do you collect Jewish wrestling (be sure to check out numerous articles on the subject published on The Great Rabbino)? If so, what Cabana items do you have in your collection? What other Jewish wrestling memorabilia do you have?

On the flip side, do you think, as suggested by Ron Kaplan of Kaplan's Korner, that wrestling even qualifies as a "sport"?

Feel free to post comments below.

Photos courtesy: and