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Zach Boren Attending NFL Combine, Appearing At Cleveland Auto Show

Zach Boren photo
Zach Boren autographed photo.
Courtesy of JewishSportsCollectibles.com.
At least one Jewish collegiate football player -- Zach Boren, the fullback/linebacker from The Ohio State University Buckeyes -- will be attending the February 23-26 NFL Scouting Combine, after which he's schedule to sign autographs at the Cleveland Auto Show.

A tenacious blocker and stalwart defender, who was key in helping the Buckeyes to an undefeated season in 2012, Boren is the younger brother of Justin Boren -- a former Michigan transfer and OSU player.

An offensive lineman, Justin went undrafted in 2011 and has been signed by the Baltimore Ravens, Detroit Lions and Denver Broncos, but has seen no game action.

Zach and Justin's father is former Michigan linebacker Mike Boren.

While their names have been absent from recent Jewish Sports Review football lists, the Boren family is Jewish, according to this article from Cleveland.com and Zack's Wikipedia page.

I met Zach during a December 16, 2012  appearance and autograph signing at Giant Eagle (a large chain of Midwest grocery stores) in Zach's hometown of Pickerington, Ohio. It was there that I obtained  the above signed photo of him standing over Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner, who Boren blasted on a sack during the 2012 OSU/Michigan game.

During our brief conversation, I told Boren about JewishSportsCollectibles.com and asked him if I could feature him on the web site.

Zack said that while he didn't actively practice Judaism, “being on the website would make my elders proud.”

Jewish football enthusiasts have the opportunity to add numerous Boren photos to their collections.

Zach Boren Running Dispatch
Zach Boren running. Photo courtesy of Columbus Dispatch.
The Columbus Dispatch Photo Store offers a wide variety of images featuring Boren available for purchase. These include offense and defensive action shots, like the iconic image of Boren standing over Michigan quarterback Gardner from “The Game”), as well as more casual sideline shots of Boren with teammates.

Boren has been a regular on the signing circuit this winter in Central Ohio. He's done public signings at a variety of sports memorabilia stores, including Sports Possessions, and shows. For a complete list of Boren's past and future appearances, visit SigningsHotline.com or BuckeyeSignings.com.

Boren is scheduled to appear at the Cleveland Auto Show after the Combine on Tuesday, February 26 from 6:00-8:00 p.m. Autographs at the show are limited to one per person and are not guaranteed.

Zach Boren signing photo
Zach Boren autographs a picture in December 2012. Photo courtesy
of JSC.com.

Collectors who have the chance to meet Boren will likely come away from the experience pleased.

Boren was pleasant during our brief meeting at Giant Eagle in December. He took photos and chatted with fans throughout the time I observed him.

The same was true when I had occasion to meet Zach and Justin at a charitable function in 2009. The Boren Brothers each graciously signed OSU pocket schedules for me at that time.

Justin and Zach Boren signed OSU Football schedules. Photo courtesy of JewishSportsCollectibles.com.
Justin (l) and Zach Boren (r) signed OSU Football pocket schedules.
Photo courtesy of JSC.com.
Zach's 2012 autograph looks very similar to his 2009 signature.

Beyond the photos of Boren from the Columbus Dispatch, I know of no other collectibles for the versatile Buckeye .

Other items, including team programs, yearbooks, magazines, etc., must certainly exist.

A search of the OSU Official Online Store for Boren items yielded no results. The online shop does, however, offer collectors the ability to purchase a memorabilia suitable for getting autographed by Boren and other players, including a variety of 2012 undefeated season items.

If Boren performs well at the combine and sees action in the NFL -- where he'd join fellow Buckeye and Jewish football player Nate Ebner of the New England Patriots -- he'll likely be the subject of future football cards.

In the meantime, fans can follow Boren on Twitter

Do any JewishSportsCollectibles.com readers have any Boren memorabilia in their collections? Let JSC know by commenting below.


NFL Update: Patriots Nate Ebner is Jewish

Nate Ebner Pats Photo
Nate Ebner PhotoFile image.
Photo courtesy of eBay.
Nate Ebner, the New England Patriots defensive back, has confirmed to JewishSportsCollectibles.com via Twitter that he is Jewish.
 
A comment I received in response to the JewishSportsCollectibles.com 2012-2013 Football Preview indicated that Nate's late father, Jeff Ebner, was Jewish. That started me digging.

I learned that Jeff Ebner, was beaten to death in 2008 during a robbery at the scrap metal dealership he owned in Springfield, Ohio, according to WDTN-TV in Dayton.

Jeff Ebner was, according to his obituary in the Springfield News-Sun, a "former member of Temple Shalom where he was the former Sunday School principal." 

So, while Nate Ebner's father was Jewish, which alone is enough for me to include him here (let the arguments begin!), I didn't know for certain if Nate was raised Jewish, practices, or self-identifies as Jewish.

Ebner was never included in the list of Jewish collegiate football players published in Jewish Sports Review, for example.

Asking Ebner seemed to be a good way to solve the problem, so I reached out to him on Twitter.

Nate Ebner Tweet
Nate Ebner Twitter exchange.
Photo courtesy of JewishSportsCollectibles.com.
140 characters is certainly limiting, so my introduction and question to Ebner were short.

"I publish a blog about Jewish athletes and sports memorabilia. Safe to include you? Thanks!"

Ebner's response, was equally short, but informative, to a degree.

"Go for it!"

While Ebner's tweet doesn't fully answer all of my questions, his response certainly indicates that he publicly self-identifies as Jewish.

***

As a late round draft pick and a rookie with fewer than a half-dozen games under his belt, as of this posting, Ebner's collectibles are limited.

Beckett.com lists no cards, yet, for the former Ohio State Buckeyes walk-on football player and internationally acclaimed rugby player.

Nate Ebner OSU Photo
Nate Ebner signed photo.
Photo courtesy of eBay.

OSUphotos is selling a photo of the Buckeyes taking the field, autographed by Ebner and inscribed "Go Bucks!" for $8.95 on eBay.

A 2012 OSU team signed helmet, which includes Ebner's autograph, is available on eBay

There are also several PhotoFile images, including the one at the top of this posting, of Ebner playing for the Pats up for bid.

Ebner had been scheduled to do a public signing a a Columbus card show in February, according to BuckeyeSignings.com, but it was cancelled.

Nate Ebner Ohio State
Nate Ebner at OSU.
Photo by Jim Davidson,
courtesy of the-Ozone.net.
No past signings with Ebner are listed on SigningsHotline.com, and I found no Ebner memorabilia for sale at Cardboard Heroes, an Ohio memorabilia shop that offers autograph signings regularly with OSU athletes.

The OSU Memorabilia Store and the Ohio State Athletics Official Online Auctions site offers no Ebner collectibles, as of this posting.

Jewish football collectors can, however, find numerous photos of Ebner available for purchase on the Columbus Dispatch's OSU Photo Store. These images are suitable for autographs and getting framed. Prices vary by photo and size. 

Neither the Patriots online shop or PatriotsMemorabilia.com offer any Ebner memorabilia, as of this posting, but both are logical places to look for his items in the future. 

Nate Ebner Rugby Magazine
Nate Ebner, Rugby Magazine. Photo courtesy of OSUrugby.com. 

The Ohio State Rugby web site boasts a photo of Ebner on the cover of Rugby Magazine's Spring 2011 issue.

I could find no copies of it available for sale on eBay or Amazon.com, and RugbyMag.com doesn't appear to sell back issues.

Certainly other rugby memorabilia associated with Ebner -- a two-time IRB Junior World Championship MVP -- must exist. I could find none on USARugby.com, however. 

***

Do you know of any additional Nate Ebners collectibles? Any rugby memorabilia? Do you have any Ebner memorabilia in your Jewish football collection?

Let JewishSportsCollectibles.com readers know by commenting below.


Team Israel: Eric Berger

Eric Berger Video Still
Eric Berger pitching for Team Israel. Video capture courtesy of WorldBaseballClassic.com.
Eric Berger was the starting pitcher for Team Israel vs. South Africa in the first game of the qualifying rounds of the 2013 World Baseball Classic.

Pitching without his signature mustache (see locker room photo and 'stache photo below), Berger threw three scoreless innings, giving up two hits while notching three strikeouts and yielding no runs, to earn the historic win for Team Israel (the team's stats can be found on the WBC web site). 

Eric Berger TI Locker Room
Eric Berger in the Team Israel locker room. Photo courtesy of Nate Fish,
kingofjewishbaseball.wordpress.com.
The achievement was the fulfillment of a discussion Beger started during 2011/2012 Winter Ball in Venezuela, according to an interview Berger conducted with JewishBaseballNews.com.

Berger's enthusiasm about playing for Team Israel grew as the 2012 season went on.

During a nearly 30-minute pre-game interview with JewishSportsCollectibles.com in June, Berger told me "to represent Israel would be really cool. We have a chance to open people's eyes about Israel and Jewish baseball players."

Selected by the Cleveland Indians in the eighth round (#261 overall) of the 2008 Draft while he played college ball for the University of Arizona, Berger split the 2012 season between the AA Akron Aeros and the AAA Columbus Clippers, working as both a starter and relief pitcher.

Raised in a Reform Jewish household, Berger was bar mitzvahed, but has had "a lot less involvement" in regular daily observance since then. While he says he "does occasionally catch a service," Berger's "full-time focus [has been] on baseball since seventh grade."

Berger says he has never faced anti-Semitism during his baseball career, Berger wishes he had.

"I kind of want to see what it feels like," Berger told me. "How does that make you feel? I want to experience some real life stuff. I play baseball every day. How much of the real world do I really know? And, it would motivate me. There's nothing more that motivates people than negativity."


A self-described fan of Sandy Koufax, Berger is not, himself, a sports memorabilia collector. "I'm not into memorabilia too much," he said. "But, I can appreciate how someone can connect with it."

Berger says he keeps his own baseball cards in a draw and shares them with fans and family.

Eric Berger Razor
Eric Berger 2008 Razor Signature card. Photo courtesy of Joshua Platt.
These cards include a 2008 Razor Signature Series (#58) -- with autographed and limited edition color and printing plate variations -- a 2010 Bowman Prospect autograph card (#EB), and a 2010 Upper Deck World of Sports card and autographed issue, which features Berger in his Arizona uniform, according to Beckett.com.

The cards sell for between $1.25-$16 on eBay, and and $0.29-$12 on Amazon.com and in the Beckett Marketplace.

Eric Berger Carolina League All Star
Eric Berger 2009 Carolina League All-Star card. Photo courtesy of
Joshua Platt.
Berger's minor league cards include cards from the 2009 Kinston Indians, 2009 Carolina League All-Star set, the 2010, 2011 and 2012 Akron Aeros, and the 2012 Columbus Clippers. These are available for a range of prices on eBay, mostly as part of complete team sets. Collectors may also be able to find these sets on the minor league teams' web sites.

Describing it as "surreal" when he is asked for his autograph by fans, Berger is a generous in-person signe, who makes an earnest effort to connect with fans, in-person and online.

For example, I corresponded with Berger via Twitter before I met him after a Columbus Clippers game early in May.

Eric Berger Twitter Exchange
When I introduced myself and mentioned our Twitter connection, Berger offered a genuine handshake and seemed to remember me from our brief social media exchanges.

He autographed eight cards for me that day. Berger also signed for me in response to through-the-mail requests in Kinson two years ago.

Eric Berger Mustache
Eric Berger with full 'stache. Photo courtesy of the Columbus Clippers.
In 2011, during the off season, Berger says he grew a full beard. Reporting to 2011 Spring Training, he shaved everything except the mustache, which he then grew out into a full handle bar.

The 'stache became a team and fan favorite, and he grew it out again again for the 2012 season. This made it easy for fans to spot Berger. 

"The guys enjoy it," Berger said. "The fans enjoy it, too. I get recognized, even though I'm not looking for recognition."

Whether he's looking for recognition or not, Berger gets it, in part because of the 'stache, but mostly because he's a good guy.

I expect the recognition will be more now with Berger's Team Israel experience.

***

Certainly the pitcher has collectibles other than his pasteboard. What Eric Berger cards and memorabilia do you have in your Jewish baseball collection? Let other JewishSportsCollectibles.com readers know by commenting below.


Adam Greenberg Added to Team Israel Roster

Greenberg HBPFormer Jewish Major Leaguer Adam Greenberg has been added to the Team Israel roster for the qualifying rounds of the 2013 World Baseball Classic, according to a posting on Team Israel's Facebook page. Greenberg takes the roster spot of former JMLer Gabe Kapler, who sustained an injury.

Greenberg's story is widely known, but worth repeating.

A Cubs prospect, Greenberg was called up to the Major Leagues in July 7, 2005. Two days later, he was sent into a game against the Marlins to pinch hit.

As described by the New York Times, Greenberg was hit in the head by a 92-mile-per-hour fastball on the first pitch he saw.

"I didn't have a chance to swing," Greenberg recounted in Jewish Major Leaguers in Their Own Words: Oral Histories of 23 Players (which devotes an entire chapter to his story). "I didn't have a chance to swing, and it cracked me. ... I was conscious the whole time. I couldn't control my eyes. They rolled into the back of my head, but I was aware of everything that was going on, basically just trying to tell myself to stay alive and stay with it ... ."

The affects of the concussion Greenberg suffered from the beaning lasted for months, and he never made it back to the Big Leagues.

Greenberg has tried, unsuccessfully, to earn his way back to the majors. He played in the affiliated minor leagues and for the independent league Bridgeport Blue Fish for several years, retiring in 2011.

Sports documentary film maker Matt Liston recently spearheaded an online petition to try to get the Cubs to give Greenberg one more at bat. The "One At Bat" campaign, while dramatic and inspiring, unfortunately proved unsuccessful, with the Cubs denying the petition. The "One At Bat" video is available below. The piece is compelling, but watching Greenberg get beaned is unsettling, to say the least.

Playing for Team Israel could be Greenberg's last opportunity to showcase himself before major league scouts. Here's hoping Adam's time on the international stage earns him another shot at "The Show." And, let's offer a hearty yasher koach to Team Israel manager Brad Ausmus for the noble gesture. Here's also hoping that Kapler makes a full, and speedy, recovery from his injury.

***

Jewish baseball collectors have access to a number of Greenberg cards and collectibles, despite -- and possibly because of -- the extreme brevity of his major league career.

Adam Greenberg UD
Adam Greenberg 2002 Upper Deck Future Gems. Photo courtesy of
Joshua Platt.

Greenberg is featured on nearly three dozen different baseball cards, including minor and major league issues, according to Beckett.com. These include a 2002 Upper Deck Prospect Premiere issue, and 2004 Topps Total and Bowman rookie cards, including Chrome, Refractor and autographed iterations from Bowman.

He also has cards in the 2008 and 2010 Jewish Major Leaguers card sets.

All of Greenberg's cards are readily available on eBay, the Becket Marketplace and Amazon.com. They generally sell for between $1-5 for singles, with some minor league team sets and the Chrome, Refractor and autographed Bowman cards costing a bit more. 

I could find no independent league baseball cards while searching eBay for Bridgeport Bluefish team cards. The team's online store does not offer cards for sale.

Adam Greenberg JML Card
Adam Greenberg Jewish Major Leaguers card. Photo courtesy of
Joshua Platt.

Greenberg is likely to have another baseball card available in the near future, as a result of his play for Team Israel.

As reported in this earlier JewishSportsCollectibles.com post about Team Israel memorabilia, Martin Abramowitz, publisher of the Jewish Major Leaguer card series, said in early August post on Team Israel's Facebook page that he plans to include an Israel WBC card in a 2015 release of JML cards.

Photographer Bob Ruxin recently verified that he will be at the WBC tourney taking pictures for JML in another posting on Team Israel's Facebook wall.

I hope Greenberg is, indeed, included in the planned set, either individually or as part of a team card.

Beyond his baseball cards, there is not much Greenberg memorabilia listed on eBay, as of this posting.

Other items include an autographed baseball (as always, buyers beware!) and a generic University of North Carolina replica jersey (Greenberg played college ball for the Tar Heels).

Certainly other Greenberg memorabilia exists, although I could find little.

Greenberg NYT Photo
Adam Greenberg during Spring Training 2005. Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images, courtesy of NYTimes.com.

There are no photos of Greenberg in the MLB Photo Store. The New York Times ran a beautiful image on Greenberg recently, but it is not for sale through the Times' online store.


One At Bat Adam Greenberg Poster
One At Bat poster. Photo courtesy of OneAtBat.com.
Collectors can download and print a One At Bat poster from the campaign's web site. The poster, while visually arresting, does not, however, feature Greenberg's likeness. It would, in my opinion, make an intriguing addition to any Greenberg collection, regardless.

For collectors who prefer to keep their memorabilia on the book shelf, Greenberg's saga is recounted in several Jewish baseball books.

These include Jewish Major Leaguers in Their Own WordsJews and Baseball: Volume 2, The Post-Greenberg Years, 1949-2008, and The Baseball Talmud: The Definitive Position-by-Position Ranking of Baseball's Chosen Players, all of which are available on Amazon.

Greenberg is a generous in-person signer and welcomes interactions with his Jewish fan base, as detailed in Jewish Major Leaguers in Their Own Words. It has been my experience that Adam is also a willing respondent to through-the-mail requests for his autographs. I'm proud to have several of Greenbergs autographed cards in my Jewish baseball collection.

***

What Adam Greenberg memorabilia have I overlooked? Do you have any Greenberg collectibles in your Jewish baseball collection? What's your favorite piece?

Share your thoughts with JewishSportsCollectibles.com readers by commenting below.


2012-2013 Football Preview

NFL ShieldThe football season kicks off tonight. There are 10 Jews and players with Jewish heritage (talk amongst yourselves, but I'm taking a big tent approach!) -- many of whom have memorabilia available to Jewish pigskin collectors -- among the players on teams 2012/2013 rosters.

This year's roster of Gridiron MOTs includes:

The-not-nearly-complete list of collectibles associated with each player who will start follows ...

Greg Camarillo

Greg Camarillo 2009 UD
Greg Camarillo 2009 Upper Deck. Photo courtesy of eBay.
Camarillio has more than 50 cards available in the Beckett Marketplace. These include standard issue 2008-2010 pasteboard from Score, Upper Deck and Topps, along with a bevy of signed cards.

Most of the wide receiver/punt returner's cards sell for under $5, with a few of the limited editions booking for as much as $12-20.

Signed photos of the Stanford grad, in both his college and pro uniforms, are available on eBay for between $10-25. Football programs (typically $10 or less) can also be found on the auction giant; they typically sell for $10 or less, depending on the opponent.

 

Gabe Carimi Crown Royal
Gabe Carimi Crown Royale card. Photo courtesy of eBay.
Gabe Carimi

The Wisconsin grad is, truly, a "monster of the Midway." A highly-touted rookie, Carimi has nearly two dozen cards available in the Beckett Marketplace.

A search of eBay yields the "Hebrew Bear's" 2011 Senior Bowl Card ($1.25), several signed photos, a Combine worn and signed Under Armour shirt and a Rose Bowl worn and autographed warm-up jacket. As always, buyer beware.


Brian de la PuentaBrian de la Puente

The Beckett Marketplace shows no cards available for the New Orleans Saints offensive guard, who's mother has Jewish heritage, as reported on Kaplan's Korner on Jews and Sports.

Searching eBay may prove more fruitful for for Jewish football collectors seeking de la Puenta memorabilia. The auction site offers a Saints practice jersey, signed gloves and a jersey name plate, along with Vikings tickets and a program.

What de la Puenta collectibles do you have on your shelf? Anything from his college playing days with Cal?

Julian Edelman

Julian Edelman
Julian Edelman Exquisite LE Signature card. Photo courtesy of eBay.

The Beckett Marketplace offers a selection of nearly two dozen Edelman cards, ranging from $0.25-$15. These include standard issue as well as memorabilia and autograph cards.

Offerings on eBay include Edelman's cards, signed photos, autographed jerseys and footballs. As always, buyer beware.
 
Antonio GarayAntonio Garay
Still no cards -- yet -- for this former practice squad player (check out this terrific, feel good article about Garay from the San Diego Jewish World), according to Beckett.

An eBay search yielded Garay's autograph on a Chargers team signed helmet and an autographed index card.

This is both a bummer -- and an opportunity -- for collectors. Does anyone have any Garay memorabilia in their collections?

Erik Lorig

Erik LorigeBay offerings include a team signed ball and a Stanford media guide, but there are no cards yet for the dual threat full back/tight end, according to Beckett.

Do you know if Lorig is featured in any other Stanford collectibles? Has anyone had success obtaining Lorig's signature through the mail?

Taylor Mays Bowman
Taylor Mays 2010 Bowman Sterling. Photo courtesy of eBay.
Taylor Mays

As a highly-touted rookie out of USC, Mays started his career with the 49ers and was traded to the Bengals. The Beckett Marketplace includes 60 cards for Mays, including standard issues, autograph and limited editions cards.

A wide range of the safety's collectibles, in all price points, including jerseys, signed photos, helmets, etc. can be found on eBay.

Adam PodleshAdam Podlesh
Sadly, Beckett offers no cards for the Bears punter.

An eBay search shows several signed photos, including pictures of the punter in both his professional and college uniforms, and a Maryland 'Terps program. Other memorabilia includes Bears team signed items with Podlesh's autograph.

Certainly the outspoken punter is featured in other media guides, team publications, etc. What do you have in your collection?

Sage Rosenfels
Sage Rosenfels Press Pass rookie card. Photo courtesy of eBay.
Sage Rosenfels
The veteran back-up QB has perfected the art of carrying the clipboard on the sideline. This begs the question, will Rosenfels even have a shot at seeing the field in 2012?

For collectors, the answer may not matter. Rosenfels has a slew of cards, dating back to his 2001 rookie campaign.

Beckett search results in more than 150 different cards. This includes dozens from the major issues, and numerous special inserts, relic cards, etc. Prices range from less than $1 to about $20 for some of the rarest memorabilia cards. 

Rosenfels fans can a find game-used equipment, signed photos and team-signed memorabilia at a variety of price points on eBay, in addition to the QBs football cards. As always, buyer beware.

Geoff SchwartzGeoff Schwartz
Offensive lineman play a critical role in the success, or failure, of any team's offernse. They big men, however, often toil in obscurity, insofar as their collectibles are concerned.

Such is the case for Geoff, who is best known as the big brother to Cleveland Browns draftee Mitchell Schwartz.

Unfortunately for collectors, Beckett shows no cards for the Vikings o-tackle. Collectors can find several Oregon Ducks programs that include Schwartz The Elder, along with an unsigned photo and several team autographed items that include the lineman's signature on eBay.

What Schwartz collectibles do you have in your collection? Anything from his college days with the Oregon Ducks?

Mitchell Schwartz

Mitchell Schwartz Senior Card
Mitchell Schwartz Senior Bowl Card. Photo courtesy of eBay.
Mitchell Schwartz is the only Jewish player from drafted in 2012 to land a roster spot. The second round pick of the Cleveland Browns (read more about Schwartz and the Jewish undrafted free agent signers in this JSC posting) has a limited edition Senior Bowl facsimile signature card, which sells for $1-$15 (the more expensive cards have been autographed) on eBay and $1.50 on Beckett.com.

Collectors can find Cal Bears helmets, jerseys, logo footballs, tickets, programs, yearbooks and other ephemera (including this poster schedule) on eBay and Amazon.com.

 

***

The 2011/2012 Jewish football players and 2012 draftees currently without a home, due to late roster cuts and other circumstances, are:

***

I may have missed some players, and I'm sure I've missed numerous collectibles in highlighting the offerings above. What can you add to the list? What's your favorite collectible associated with the current Jewish NFL players? Let JewishSportsCollectibles.com readers know by commenting below.

 

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