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Glickman Documentary Pays Tribute to Sprinter, Broadcaster

Glickman The Film
A movie poster for Glickman. Photo courtesy of GlickmanTheFilm.com.
Glickman, a documentary film that looks at the life and legacy of Marty Glickman, a towering figure in the world of both Olympic track and field and sportscasting, premiered on HBO on Monday, August 26.

James L. Freedman wrote, produced and directed the movie, his first documentary. Famed director Martin Scorsese served as the film's executive producer. 

The documentary is "a labor of love" for Freedman, who got his start in media because of Glickman. According to the film's web site, Freedman -- while still in high school -- produced Marty Glickman’s late night radio program, one of the first all sports call-in shows in the country, on WNEW in New York.

The story of Glickman's life and career, both on the field and in the broadcast booth, is remarkable.

A track star in high school and at Syracuse University, Glickman was part of the U.S. 4X100 meter relay team sent to Germany to compete in the 1936 Olympic Summer Games.

The day before the race, coaches replaced Glickman and teammate Sam Stoller, the only two Jews on the U.S. Olympic team, on the relay squad with runners Ralph Metcalfe and Jesse Owens. Owen's protested the move and urged his coaches to allow Glickman and Stoller to run.

The removal of the Jewish sprinters was seen by many as a clear showing of antisemitism and a move designed by American Olympic Committee chair Avery Brundage, a Nazi sympathizer, to appease Hitler.

Ironically, both Owens and Metcalfe were African-Americans, also members of "inferior races," according to the Nazis. Led by Owens, the American sprinters set a world record and won gold in the relay. The Germans finished fourth. 

Running-a-Relay-with-Jesse-Owens
Glickman passes the baton to Jesse Owens during a relay race. Photo courtesy of GlickmanTheFilm.com.
The relay victory earned Owens his fourth gold medal in the Olympic Games. Owens' achievement catapulted him to international fame, though it didn't earn him racial respect at home. Owens' record stood until 1984, when Carl Lewis matched the feat in the Los Angeles Olympics.

Spurned in Berlin, Glickman returned to Syracuse University, where he starred in football and basketball. His prowess on the playing field led a local station to offer Glickman his first radio job, which paid $15 a broadcast. 

After college Glickman worked in radio in New York City before enlisting in the Marine Corps in 1943. Following action in the Pacific Theater during WWII, Glickman returned to New York and started his broadcasting career in earnest.

During a career that would span more than 50 years, Glickman covered almost every sport that could be broadcast.

Glickman provided radio play-by-play for Knicks games and served as the first television announcer for the NBA. In describing basketball for radio listeners, Glickman created the language used by players, fans and broadcasters throughout the world today. He invented terms like "lane," "key" and "Swish!" 

"Marty Glickman wasn't the first man to do basketball on radio, but he was the first to establish the precise geometry of the court, using a language and terminology that survives more than half a century later." writes Dennis D'Agostino in a rememberance of Glickman on NBA.com.

"I strove to create a word picture that the listener could see in the mind's eye," Glickman wrote in his autobiography, The Fastest Kid on the Block: The Marty Glickman Story. "Not only see it, but feel it as well -- the excitement, the colors, the tension, the enthusiasm of the winner and the despair of the loser."

Glickman broadcasting a Giants football game
Glickman broadcasts a Giants football game. Photo courtesy of Getty Images, GlickmanTheFilm.com.
In addition to covering basketball, Glickman provided radio and television play-by-play and broadcast pre- and post-game shows for the New York (football) Giants, New York Jets, New York Rangers, New York Yankees and Brooklyn Dodgers.

He also narrated sports news reels for Paramount films, announced horse races at Yonkers Raceway, and covered tennis matches for HBO Sports.

As busy as he was on-air, Glickman made time to teach and mentor a generation of sports broadcasters, including luminaries like Marv Albert (also Jewish), Bob Costas, Dick Engberg and Dick Stockton.

Albert, who is interviewed in the documentary, once described Glickman as "the greatest radio broadcaster of all time," according to Investor's Business Daily.

Glickman's professional accolades lend credence to Albert's statement. Glickman is a member of the National Sportscasters & Sportswriters Hall of Fame, winner of the Curt Gowdy Award from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, and a member of the American Sportscasters Association Hall of Fame. He has also been inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

Yet, in spite of his success, Glickman faced discrimination in his professional career. According to the HBO web site, when the NBA signed a national TV deal, Glickman was passed over for a broadcaster with a "more Midwestern voice." Whether this decision was made by an executive who didn't like Glickman's New York accent, or subtle antisemitism on the part of the TV networks is open for debate.

Freedman tells Glickman's story in a 75-minute documentary combining archival photos and footage with modern interviews. There is, for obvious reasons, a focus on Glickman's releigion.

"People ask if I set out to make a Jewish film," Freedman said in an email to JewishSportsCollectibles.com. "My answer is not at all. The heart of the film explores what happens when an 18-year-old's dreams are crushed by racism and prejudice. Do they become bitter?  Or do they triumph in life as Marty did? Marty happened to be Jewish -- but I feel the story is universal."

In a posting on IndieWire, reviewer Kevin Jagernauth describes the film this way:

"Freedman ... does an admirable job of capturing the broadcaster, even if the structure is a little old fashioned, moving as it does between vintage footage (which has been smartly assembled) and talking heads. He veers toward hyperbole from time to time ... but what he gets right is conveying the spirit of Glickman, the excitement of his work (even if you don’t know your three-point shot from a touchdown, it’s infectious) and the aura of someone who became a legend by not being as manipulative, cheap, mean, blindly ambitious or coldly cruel as so many others around him were. Marty Glickman was simply being the best Marty Glickman he could be. For many he wasn’t just the best Marty Glickman he was simply: the best."

A preview for Glickman is available by clicking on the video window below. 

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Collectors have access to a wide array of memorabilia associated with the famed Jewish sportscaster, but little associated with the film itself.

Glickman radio ad ebay
A WOR Radio ad for Jets games featuring Marty Glickman. Photo courtesy of eBay.
Glickman memorabilia on eBay at the time of this posting include photos, a 1937 Syracuse University yearbook, ads for Glickman's radio shows, and copies of his book.

Glickman played football and basketball at Syracuse, and enjoyed brief professional careers in both sports. Patient collectors may be able to find vintage sports memorabilia associated with Glickman's college career on eBay.

While not specific to Glickman, eBay offers a wide array of collectibles and memorabilia associated with the 1936 Olympics.

Glickman is featured on 2012 Sportskings Series E one-of-a-kind cards. These include a Top 50 Broadcasters cut autographs card and a redemption sketch card, according to Beckett.com.

These cards are not available for purchase in the Beckett Marketplace, eBay or Amazon, at the time of this posting. As one-of-a-kind cards they are extremely rare and would likely be expensive to buy, if they ever come up for sale.

Fastest Kid on the Block Marty Glickman
The Fastest Kid on the Block, Glickman's autobiography. Photo courtesy of Amazon.com.
Among the books about Glickman on Amazon.com are his autobiography, The Fastest Kid on the Block. Others include Triumph: The Untold Story of Jesse Owens and Hitler's OlympicsGhost Runners (an historical fiction novel inspired by Glickman and Stoller's experience), Great Jews In Sports and the Encyclopedia of Jews in Sports.

Also, while not specifically about Glickman, Jack Kerouac described Glickman as "absolutely the greatest announcer I ever heard" in On The Road.

Memorabilia associated with Glickman the documentary is scant, however. "There is no merchandise or memorabilia associated with the film," Freedman tells JewishSportsCollectibles.com. "That is not why I made it. It was a true labor of love having worked for Marty producing his radio show when I was 17."

Before its HBO broadcast debut, numerous film festivals, including the February 2013 Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, screened Glickman. The Newhouse Sports Media Center at Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications hosted a New York City premiere on August 24 that featured a roundtable discussion, “Memories of Marty,” featuring Costas, Albert and Freedman. Dedicated collectors may be able to find tickets, programs or advertisements for these festivals and events.

And, social media enthusiasts can collect tweet and postings about Glickman on Twitter and Facebook. The film's Twitter feed is particularly interesting.

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Have you seen Glickman? What did you think about the documentary? Did you ever have the chance to meet Marty Glickman? What Glickman memorabilia do you have in your Jewish sports collection?

Let JewishSportsCollectibles.com readers know by commenting below.


Obituary: Ossie Schectman, Jewish Basketball Player Who Scored NBA's 'First Basket'

Ossie Schectman LIU
Ossie Schectman. Photo courtesy of Long Island University Athletics.
Oscar "Ossie" Schectman, the Jewish basketball player who scored the first basket in NBA history, died July 30, 2013 at age 94, according to the New York Times.

Schectman grew up in tenement housing in New York City, and perfected his shooting by arcing balls through a rung on a building fire escape, according to the NY Times remembrance.

He played college basketball at Long Island University, becoming an All-American and leading LIU to the 1939 and 1941 NIT championships, according to the SportingNews.com.

The SPHAs Book Cover
The SPHAs book cover. Photo courtesy of Amazon.com.

According to his Wikipedia bio, after college Schectman played for the Philadelphia SPHAs (short for the South Philadelphia Hebrew Association) in the American Basketball League. The team, billed as "basketball's greatest Jewish team," was owned by basketball Hall of Famer Eddie Gottlieb, who was also Jewish.

The team's exploits are chronicled in Douglas Stark's book The SPHAS: The Life and Times of Basketball's Greatest Jewish Team, which is available on Amazon.com.

“Ossie was one of the pioneers of basketball, certainly Jewish basketball, in the 20th century,” Stark told The Jewish Exponent

Shechtman then joined the New York Kicks, as an original member and captain of the team, which was then part of the Basketball Association of America, a precursor of the NBA, according to his obituary on the Knicks' web site.

In the league's first game, on November 1, 1946, between the Knicks and the Toronto Huskies, Schectman scored the game's first basket. Thus he become the first player in league history to score a point, according to this remembrance on NBA.com.

"Ossie Schectman was a true NBA pioneer," said NBA Commissioner David Stern. Scoring the league's first basket, Stern said of Schectman, "placed him permanently in the annals of NBA history."

The now-famous bucket, which Schectman told Charley Rosen, author of The First Tip-Off: The Incredible Story of the Birth of the NBA, came on "a two-handed underhand layup," according to the NY Times

The shot, according to The Jewish Ledger, inspired the title of David Vyorst's documentary film, The First Basket, which chronicles Jews' contributions to the early history of professional basketball. Video of Schetman's feat is part of the film's trailer, available below.

Peter Schectman, Ossie's son, tells JewishSportsCollectibles.com that Ossie was injured diving for a ball during the season. The injury, combined with his ability to earn money while not having to travel led to Ossie's decision.

Following his departure from the Knicks, Peter says Ossie played part-time with the Patterson (New Jersey) Crescents on the ABL, where he earned all-star honors.

Schectman was a member of the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and Museum, the LIU Athletics Hall of Fame, and the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame. He was awarded LIU's Distinguished Alumni Award in 2013, an honor that Peter Schectman says deeply moved 

Jewish basketball collectors can purchase a variety of memorabilia associated with the scorer of the NBA's first basket.

Ossie Schectman Pack War
Ossie Schectman Remar Bread tribute card. Photo courtesy of packwar.blogspot.com.

Beckett.com lists no card available for Schectman, and no cards or memorabilia are available for sale on the Beckett Marketplace.

Because of his lack of pasteboard presence, the sports card blog Pack War created a tribute card for Schectman, based on the design of the 1946 Remar Bread trading cards.

While it exists only as an image on the blog, the "virtual card" (pictured right) is well-done and would make a nice addition to Jewish basketball enthusiasts' photo collections.

At the time of this posting, eBay offered little in the way of Schectman collectibles for sale. The auction giant's lone listing was for a signed signed index card.

Closed auction results included a Schectman signed basketball that had sold for $127.50. This is a bargain price, in my opinion, for an autographed piece associated with such an important figure in Jewish sports and NBA history.

Ossie Schectman signed ball
Ossie Schectman signed basketball. Photo courtesy of eBay.

Certainly, patient Jewish basketball enthusiasts will be able to find other Schectman memorabilia that is bound to pop up on eBay in the future. This might include 1946 Knicks memorabilia, like yearbooks, programs or ticket stubs.

As always, buyer beware.

Book collectors have numerous options for adding Schectman memorabilia to their shelves.

While Schectman is, surprisingly, not included in early editions of Great Jews In Sports (my copy is from 1983, and Schectman is not mentioned), he does, have a brief bio in the Encyclopedia of Jews in Sports.

Other books available on Amazon.com featuring information about Schectman include the previously mentioned The SPHAS: The Life and Times of Basketball's Greatest Jewish Team, The First Tip-Off: The Incredible Story of the Birth of the NBA; New York Knicks: The Complete Illustrated History; and, The Mogul: Eddie Gottlieb, Philadelphia Sports Legend and Pro Basketball Pioneer.

First Basket cover
The First Basket DVD. Photo courtesy of TheFirstBasket.com.

As also mentioned, Schectman is featured in The First Basket documentary.

Movie buffs can buy a DVD for $21.99 on the film's web site, which also includes other collectibles associated with the movie.

Amazon.com offers DVDs of The First Basket, as well as movie posters for the film. The DVD costs $19.99, the poster sells for $9.99.

At the time of this posting, no copies of First Basket were listed on eBay. CDs of the movie soundtrack, however, were available for approximately $10. The soundtrack is available as part of a collectors package on the First Basket web site.

Ossie Schectman
Ossie Schectman.
Photo courtesy of LOhud.com.

Jewish sportswriter Howard Megdal authored a profile of Schectman in March for LOhud.com (access to the article requires a paid subscription).

In an email to JewishSportsCollectibles.com at the time, Megdal indicated that Schectman and his son, Peter, were interested in selling Ossie's memorabilia collection.

Peter Schectman tells JSC the family consigned numerous items to Lelands.com. The Ossie Schectman collection was included in the company's Spring 2013 auction, which closed June 8, 2013. A catalogue of the sale is available on the company's web site.

Ossie Schectman Contract
Ossie Schectman Contract. Photo courtesy of Lelands.com.
Among the items that gaveled during the sale were Schectman's 1946-1947 Knicks original, signed contract, which hammered for $2,062.76.

Schectman's 1939 and 1941 NIT Tournament winners watches sold for 722.98 and $657.25, respectively.

His New York City Basketball Hall of Fame induction trophy realized $358.50.

A 50th anniversary Knicks jersey, autographed by Schectman, failed to sell. Perhaps a lucky bidder will win this wonderful piece of Jewish basketball history in a future auction.

With Schectman's passing, Peter tells JSC that the family may put the remainder of Ossie's memorabilia collection up for auction or private sale. We'll report on future offerings as details become available. 

In a recent online discussion about on the Jewish Sports Collectibles group on Yahoo, noted collector Neil Keller says he met with Schectman more than a dozen times at his home in South Florida. Keller says he and Schectman played "trash can basketball at his place in Delray Beach with a tennis ball."

Peter Schectman says his father was active in the South Florida Basketball Fraternity, a group of retired players , many Jewish, who met for weekly breakfasts on Tuesday and an annual black tie dinner. An article on JNS.org confirms this, describing Schectman as "one of basketball’s great ambassadors." It sounds to me that Schectman was a generous and charming man. 

Did you ever have the chance to meet Ossie Schectman? What Schectman memorabia do you have in your Jewish basketball collection? What other Schectman collectibles do you know about? 

Let JSC.com readers know by commenting below.


Hall of Fame Writer Murray Chass

Murray Chass
Murray Chass. Photo courtesy
of MurrayChass.com.
Jewish baseball enthusiasts have the opportunity to add a limited edition card autographed by sportswriter Murray Chass to their collections.

A member of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh's Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, Chass is the 2003 winner of the National Baseball Hall of Fame's J.G. Taylor Spink Award for "meritorious contributions to baseball writing."

[Author's note: Among the other Jewish winners of the prestigious honor are writers Shirley PovichDick Young, Milton Richman, Jerome Holtzman, Hal Lebovitz and Ross Newhan.]

Chass has covered baseball since 1956. He previously served as the chairman of the New York Chapter of The Baseball Writers Association of America and the New York Time's national baseball correspondent, according to his Wikipedia biography.

He pioneered coverage of the business of sports, including contracts and labor negotiations.

Chass has written several online columns ("Hall Of Fame Puts Its Shame On The Line" and "Players Line Up To Salute Miller," among others) advocating the election of Marvin Miller, former executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, to the Baseball Hall of Fame, and has been outspoken on the subject in a wide array of media (search Google for a variety of Chass's thoughts on Miller).

Chass is the author of several books, available on Amazon, on both baseball and football. These include The Yankees: The Four Fabulous Eras of Baseball's Most Famous Team, Power Football and Pittsburgh Steelers: The Long Climb.

Murray Chass Panini
Murray Chass 2012 Panini. Photo courtesy of JSC.
I had tried several times, unsuccessfully, to obtain Chass's autograph for my Jewish baseball collection.

So, it was with great delight that I read his April 25 online column (Chass insists his site is not a blog!), "Honus And His Buddy," in which Chass discusses the existence of his baseball card, in the context of reporting on Goldin Auctions' recent sale for $2.1 million of the "Jumbo" T206 Honus Wagner card.

Chass is the subject of card #JSA-MUR in the 2012 Panini Cooperstown Signatures (pictured at left).

The serial numbered, limited edition card -- only 500 were produced --features a black and white image of the Hall of Fame writer along with a bold, clean autograph. 

In his column, Chass makes it clear he doesn't understand why collectors would want his card, and cares little for the "unimportant subject of baseball cards."

Chass's column reads, in part:

"... I wouldn’t have spent $9 for my card.

Let’s be honest here. The Wagner card is probably the most famous baseball card in existence. Nobody knew mine existed. Why it exists I don’t know.

Last year Panini America, Inc. decided to publish a set of cards of Hall of Fame players, Wagner, who was among the first five players elected to the Hall in 1936 among them. But the Panini people decided to include broadcasters and writers, too.

Peter Gammons and I were the two writers selected, and our autographed cards were distributed among the packs otherwise filled with Hall of Fame players. It was unusual enough that the cards existed. But then things got even more bizarre.

One of the recipients of the cards had no use for the Murray Chass card – hey, I don’t have a problem with that – but why he took the next step defies reality. He posted the card for sale on eBay. Why, I asked myself, did he think anybody would bid for the card?

... I am not a collector and have never understood the ravenous thirst memorabilia collectors have for sports items.

I suppose that lack of interest in collecting adds to my reaction to people bidding for my card. However, I will refrain from making any additional comment because the buyer might be a reader and I don’t want to antagonize a reader on the unimportant subject of baseball cards."

I don't want to, nor will I, engage Chass in an argument about sports memorabilia or collectors' passions. I do, however, think Chass should examine sports cards and memorabilia in some context before simply dismissing them as the cardboard idols of crazed collectors. 

Consider the following: Major League Baseball teams' 2013 Opening Day payrolls totalled an estimated $3.156 billion, according to Yahoo Sports. Annually, the global market total of sports collectibles sales is $2-4 billion, according to CNN and ESPN. In this light, alone, sports collectibles can hardly be dismissed as "unimportant."

The size of the sports cards and collectibles markets and collectors' unbridled passion for memorabilia aside, Jewish baseball enthusiasts may be limited to the Panini card if they want to add a Chass item to their memorabilia collections, given Chass' thoughts.

Two Beckett Marketplace sellers were offering Chass's card, at the time of this posting, for $10-$12. 

A search of eBay found several listings of the Panini cards, with prices ranging from $8-$25. eBay sellers were also offering Chass' books and a signed first day cover for bid, at the time of this posting.

Amazon sellers were offering the Panini card and a signed first day cover (the same available on eBay) autographed by Chass, but little else.

I purchased a Chass card last week on eBay for a Buy It Now price of $11, and consider it money well spent to add the Hall of Fame writer's autograph to my Jewish baseball collection. What are your thoughts?

Do you have any Chass memorabilia in your collection? Do you know of other Chass collectibles? Have you had a chance to meet Chass?

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


Jackie and the Jews: Jackie Robinson and Hank Greenberg

Jackie Robinson 2013 Gypsey Queen
Jackie Robinson
Topps 2013
 Gypsy Queen.
Photo courtesy of JSC.com.

Throughout his career, Jackie Robinson played with and against numerous Jewish Major Leaguers in the late 1940s and 1950s.

Burt and Benita Boxerman's two-volume series Jews And Baseball, Larry Rutman's American Jews and America's Game: Voices of a Growing Legacy in BaseballHoward Megdal's The Baseball TalmudPeter Ephross and Martin Abramowitz's Jewish Major Leaguers in Their Own Words, and The Big Book of Jewish Baseball by Peter and Joachim Horvitz are all excellent resources for learning more about Jewish Major Leaguers on the era.

The most notable, however, of Robinson's Jewish opponents was Hank Greenberg.

Robinson faced Greenberg during Robinson's 1947 rookie season and Greenberg's last season as a player.

42 Pee Wee Reese
Pee Wee Reese puts an arm around Jackie Robinson in 42. Photo courtesy of IMDB.com.
A touching scene in 42 shows Dodger captain Pee Wee Reese placing an arm around Robinson on May 13, 1947 at Crosley Field in Cincinnati, comforting Robinson while fans hurled racial epitaphs. The tear-jerking scene is given the full Hollywood treatment, and is a high point of the movie. According to ESPN.com, however, it may not have happened as depicted in the film.

What happened on May 15, when Brooklyn played against Pittsburgh -- Greenberg's team -- that year is clear.

As described by Stephen Norword and Harold Brackman in their SABR award-winning research paper, "Going to Bat for Jackie Robinson: The Jewish Role in Breaking Baseball's Color Line."

"The most dramatic display of Jewish solidarity with Jackie Robinson came from Hank Greenberg. The legendary Detroit Tiger slugger who hit 58 home runs in 1938, then with the Pittsburgh Pirates in his last season, was the first opposing player to offer Robinson encouragement. Probably no major leaguer before Robinson had been more abused by opposing players and fans than Greenberg, who was continually taunted for being Jewish.

"On May 15, 1947, in a game between the Pirates and the Dodgers, Robinson laid down a perfect bunt and streaked down the line to first. The pitcher’s throw pulled first baseman Greenberg off the bag. Reaching for the throw, he collided with Robinson, who was able to get up and reach second. The next inning Greenberg walked, and asked Robinson, who was playing first base, if he had been hurt in the collision. Assured by Robinson that he hadn’t been, Greenberg said to him, 'Don’t pay any attention to these guys who are trying to make it hard for you. Stick in there ... . I hope you and I can get together for a talk. There are a few things I’ve learned down through the years that might help you and make it easier.'"

Despite wide coverage of the episode at the time it took place -- Robinson old the New York Times, “Class tells. It sticks out all over Mr. Greenberg.” -- the conversation between Robinson and Greenberg is given scant attention by Robinson's biographers.

Hank Greenberg: The Story of My Life.
Hank Greenberg: The Story of My Life. Photo courtesy of Amazon.com.
Both Robinson and Greenberg, however, mention it in their autobiographies; Robinson in Jackie Robinson: My Own Story (co-written by African-American sportswriter Wendell Smith, who chronicled Robinson's rookie season for the Pittsburgh Courier), and Greenberg in Hank Greenberg: The Story of My Life (co-authored by Ira Bekow).

Recalls Greenberg:

"Here were our guys, a bunch of ignorant, stupid Southerners who couldn't speak properly ... and all they could do was make jokes about Jackie. The couldn't recognize that they had a special person in front of them. ... I identified with Jackie Robinson. I had feelings for him because they had treated me the same way. Not as bad, but they made remarks about my being a sheenie and a Jew all the time."

Hank Greenberg Hero of Heroes
Hank Greenberg: The Hero of Heroes. Photo courtesy of Amazon.com.
John Rosengren's new biography of Greenberg, Hank Greenberg: The Hero of Heroes, also recounts the episode (drawing on The Story of My Life as a source).

"The moment held lasting significance for Robinson," writes Rosengren. "It also burnished Hank's reputation as a hero for the way he conducted himself."

The books Hank Greenberg: The Hero Who Didn't Want to Be One, Hammerin' Hank Greenberg, Two Pioneers: How Hank Greenberg and Jackie Robinson Transformed Baseball - and America and When Jackie and Hank Met also touch, to varying extents, on Greenberg and Robinson's interaction.

Life And Times of Hank Greenberg DVD.
The Life And Times of Hank Greenberg. Photo courtesy of Amazon.com.
Aviva Kempner's documentary, The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg, the more recent Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story and the YouTube documentary, Jewish Activism in Baseball Part 5: Life Long Friendship, one of a series of short documentary vignettes on the topic of Jews in baseball, also detail the encounter.

"My Dad said, many times, that he didn't know what having it bad was until he saw what Jackie Robinson went through in 1947," recounts Steve Greenberg, Hank's son, in Life and Times. 

Two baseball cards also commemorate Robinson and Greenberg's infamous interaction.

2002 Fleer Hank Greenberg Jackie Robinson card.
2002 Fleer Hank Greenberg Jackie Robinson card. Photo courtesy of FindFreeGraphics.com.
These include a 2002 Fleer "Rival Factions" card and a 2008 Jewish Major Leaguers issue.

The Fleer card includes standard and limited edition variations.

The later include cards featuring swatches of Robinson's game used pants, slices of Greenberg's bats, or both.

Beckett.com offers a checklist of the various issues.

As of the time of this posting, no Beckett Marketplace seller is offering the card. Prices, when collectors can find the Fleer cards on eBay or Amazon, range from $10-$100 or more, depending on the scarcity of the particular issue.

While potentitally difficult and costly to obtain, the Robinson pants/Greenberg bat variation (which saw a limited production of just 50 cards) would represent a jewel in the crown of any Jewish baseball card collector, in my opinion.

The only problem with the card is that it depicts Greenberg in his Detroit Tigers uniform. Greenberg, of course, played for the Pirates when he faced Robinson, and for the Tigers for years prior to Robinson's major league debut. As such, Greenberg as a Tiger was never a "rival" of Robinson's.

Even with this historical inaccuracy, I think the card is a terrific addition to any Jewish baseball collection.

Jewish Major Leaguers Hank Greenberg Jackie Robinson card
Hank Greenberg Jackie Robinson JML card. Photo courtesy of JSC.
The Jewish Major Leaguers card is much more accessible to buyers who don't have deep pockets.

Card #50 in the 2008 "Hank Greenberg 75th Anniversary Edition of the JML series, titled "An Encounter," can be found on Amazon for $4.

At the time of this posting, no Beckett Marketplace or eBay sellers were offering the 2008 JML card.

Collectors interested in purchasing the card, however, can follow this link to search for it on eBay and this link to search Beckett.

Do JewishSportsCollectibles.com readers know of other Hank Greenberg and Jackie Robinson memorabilia? Let JSC know by commenting below.

We'll look at the ties between, and collectibles associated with, Robinson and his Brooklyn Dodgers teammate Sandy Koufax in the next posting in this series. Stay tuned.

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AJHS 'Night of Jewish Baseball' Recap

AJHS Night of Jewish Baseball Panel DiscussionThe American Jewish Historical Society recently hosted “A Night Of Jewish Baseball.

A sell-out, the February 27 event featured Jewish sportswriter and broadcaster Len Berman moderating a panel discussion that include three renowned Jewish baseball authors and two former Jewish Major Leaguers.

Ira Berkow, author of Hank Greenberg: The Story of My LifeFranklin Foer, editor of Jewish Jocks: An Unorthodox Hall of Fame, and Jane Leavy, author of Sandy Koufax: A Lefty's Legacy made up the panel of authors. 

Baseball historian and author John Thorn was scheduled to appear, but was ill and unable to take part.

Former Yankees media relations representative and sports publicist Marty Appel, himself a Jew and the author of several baseball books, handled PR for the event.

In an email following the festivities, Appel told JewishSportsCollectibles.com that Leavy shared with the crowd the story of Sandy Koufax attending her daughter's bat mitzvah.  

"He doesn't like those sorts of things because when he enters, 250 people come at him, it detracts from the event, and engulfs him," Appel said, relaying Leavy's account of the day. "But he did this for Jane, who quickly hustled [Sandy] into a private study for peace and quiet prior to the ceremony.

"In the study was Emma, the bat mitzvah girl, and a friend of hers, a boy. The boy asked Sandy how to throw a curve ball, and Sandy demonstrated. The boy insisted he was wrong, that this is the way you throw it.

"Amused, Sandy made the point that he had some success with his style. The boy refused to budge and said Sandy was not doing it right, he should do it his way.

"Finally, Sandy said, 'Look, this is how you $%^$E throw it!' The profanity was ballplayer-talk, and brought the house down."

Ron Blomberg and Art ShamskyFormer Jewish Major Leaguers Ron Blomberg and Art Shamsky also headlined the affair. Blomberg shared with attendees some of the stories contained in his autobiography, Designated Hebrew.

Appel tells JSC that Blomberg "talked about growing up Jewish in Atlanta, surrounded by KKK, but always a Yankee fan."

IBL Players at the AJHS Night of Jewish BaseballBoth Shamsky and Blomberg managed in the short-lived Israel Baseball League.

Several IBL veterans, including Nate Fish and Shlomo Lipetz, who coached and pitched with Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic qualifiers, and Secretary-General, Israel Association of Baseball Peter Kurz attended the function. 



Team Israel signed World Baseball Classic jersey Sandy Koufax Jerseys on Display At the AJHS Night of Jewish BaseballThe event featured a display of Jewish baseball memorabilia, including autographed uniforms from Hank Greenberg, Sandy Koufax and a team signed Team Israel WBC jersey.

Also on display was an autographed, limited edition All Jewish Baseball Players lithograph by artist Ron Lewis and Greg Harris.

The artwork was auctioned during the event, with proceed benefiting AJHS. 


Jewish Major Leaguers Baseball Cards Jews In Baseball lithographThe first 100 attendees who purchased $150 “reserved seats” received a gold-trimmed, limited edition set of the 2003 edition of Jewish Major Leaguers baseball cards, and attendees could also purchase JML card sets during the event.

I only wish I could have attended the AJHS Night of Jewish Baseball, instead of blogging about it from afar. Alas, I'm in Ohio and the event was held in New York City.

Did you attend the Night of Jewish Baseball? Tell JSC readers about your experience by commenting below. Share your photos from the event by emailing JewishSportsCollectibles.com at jsportscollctr@gmail.com

All event photos used above are by Melanie Einzig, courtesy of the American Jewish Historical Society. Additional photos can be found on the AJHS web site and Facebook page.

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