In-Person Experience Feed

Welcome Back, Danny Valencia

Danny Valencia
Danny Valencia. Photo courtesy of MLB.com, Orioles.com.
Danny Valencia has been called up from the minors by the Baltimore Orioles, according to JewishBaseballNews.com.

Valencia made his Major League debut in 2010 with the Minnesota Twins. He batted .311, swatted 7 HRs and 40 RBIs over 85 games, and garnered enough votes to finish third in the A.L. Rookie of the Year polling, according to JBallNews. After a significant sophomore slump in 2011, Valencia was sent to the minors by the Twins in 2011 and then traded to the Red Sox, for whom he appeared in just 10 games before being traded to the O's in the off-season.

Valencia had a strong showing with Baltimore in 2013 Spring Training, but started the season with the AAA Norfolk Tides. He performed well in the International League, batting .306 in 40 games with 11 HRs, 14 doubles and 35 RBIs before his call-up.  

Recalled on Sunday, May 19, the newest Jewish Major Leaguer whacked a double in his first at-bat of his first game with the O's.

Jewish baseball collectors have access to numerous of Valencia cards and memorabilia.

Valencia has more than 200 different cards, according to Beckett.com

This includes a wide variety of big league issues from Topps and Bowman. In addition to his standard cards, Valencia's pasteboard includes dozens of limited edition color variations, autographed and memorabilia cards, and serial numbered limited edition printings.

Danny Valencia 2012 Topps Danny Valencia 2011 Topps Triple Threads    Danny Valencia 2010 Topps Update RC  Danny Valencia 2011 Gypsy Queen

Among my favorites are Valencia's 2010 Topps Update Rookie card, 2011 Topps Gypsy Queen, 2011 Topps Triple Threads autographed memorabilia, and 2012 Topps cards, pictured above.

Danny Valencia New Britain Rock Cats
Danny Valencia New Britain Rock Cats card. Photo courtesy of eBay.
Valencia's minor league cards include team issues from the 2005 Glacier Pilots, 2006 Elizabethton Twins, 2007 Beloit Snappers, 2008 Fort Meyers Miracle, 2009 New Britain Rock Cats, 2010 Rochester Red Wings, as well as 2009 AA and 2010 AAA Top Prospects cards.

All of these cards are available on eBay, Amazon.com and in the Beckett.com Marketplace.

Minor league cards collectors can also look on MinorLeagueNetwork.comSTB Sports, and MinorLeagueSingles.com.

Prices vary widely, depending on the seller and the scarcity of the card you seek. 

Danny Valencia Signed Ball
Danny Valencia signed ball. Photo courtesy of eBay.

Among the Valencia memorabilia available on eBay and Amazon.com at the time of this posting were signed bats, baseballs, jerseys, batting gloves and mini helmets, along with a variety of autographed and unsigned photos. Prices range from $30-a few dollars to more than $250, depending on the item.

As always, buyers beware. 

Two photos featuring Valencia in his Twins uniform are available for purchase on the MLB.com Photo Store

Valencia Walkoff
Danny Valencia walk-off hit. Photo courtesy of MLB.com Photo Store. Photo by Hannah Foslien, Getty Images.
This includes an image of his teammates mobbing Valencia after an extra-innings game-winning hit. 

No Valencia memorabilia is available for sale in the MLB.com Shop, as of this posting.

In 2010, following his call up to the Majors during his rookie campaign for the Twins, I obtained a through-the-mail autograph from Valencia. I've subsequently mailed to him during Spring Training on two different occassions, without success. Has anyone else obtained Valencia's signature, either in person or through-the-mail.

What Valencia cards and memorabilia do you have in your Jewish baseball collection? Have you met him? Let JSC readers know by commenting below.


AJHS Hosting Night of Jewish Baseball

AJHS_Jewish_Baseball_InvitationThe American Jewish Historical Society is hosting “A Night Of Jewish Baseball” on Wednesday, February 27. Unfortunately, as of this posting, the event is sold out and no additional tickets are available for purchase.

But, for Jewish baseball enthusiasts and collectors fortunate enough to be able to go, the event promises to be exciting.

Author and sportscaster Len Berman is moderating a panel discussion that is scheduled to include four renowned authors and two former Jewish Major Leaguers, both of whom are also published authors.

The Jewish sportswriters and authors schedule to appear include:

Former baseball players Ron Blomberg and Art Shamsky are also scheduled to participate.

Ron Blomber 2003 Upper Deck Yankees
Ron Blomber 2003 Upper Deck card. Photo courtesy of JSC.
Blomberg, famed as baseball's first designated hitter, is the co-author of Designated Hebrew: The Ron Blomberg Story. Blomberg is also a veteran of the Israel Baseball League, where he managed the Bet Shemesh Blue Sox. 

He is the subject of numerous cards, including including Upper Deck's Yankees history card (pictured left) and the Jewish Major Leaguers sets. Beckett.com offers a complete checklist

A frequent signer, Blomberg items -- including signed and inscribed baseballs, photos, bats, jerseys and cards -- are plentiful on Beckett.comeBay and Amazon.com. Collectors can also purchase memorabilia directly from Blomberg, via his website.

Art Shamsky JML Card
Art Shamsky Jewish Major Leaguers card. Photo courtesy of JSC.

Shamsky, a member of the 1969 "Miracle Mets" is the author of The Magnificent Seasons: How the Jets, Mets, and Knicks Made Sports HIstory and Uplifted a City and the Country. Shamsky also managed in the Israel Baseball League, as the skipper for the Modi'in Miracle. 

Collectors have access to dozens of Shamsky cards (see Beckett.com for a checklist). His cards and other collectibles, including autographed memorabilia, are plentiful on eBay and Amazon.com. Jewish baseball enthusiasts can also purchase memorabilia from Shamsky's web site.

AJHS will have a display of Jewish baseball memorabilia, including autographed uniforms from Hank Greenberg, Sandy Koufax and the World Baseball Classic Team Israel during the event.

Jewish Baseball Lithograph
Ron Lewis Jewish Baseball lithograph. Photo courtesy of JewishBaseballPlayer.com and AJHS.

An autographed, limited edition All Jewish Baseball Players lithograph by artist Ron Lewis will also be on display.

The lithograph will be available for bid at silent auction.

The first 100 attendees who purchased $150 “reserved seats” will receive a gold-trimmed, limited edition set of the 2003 edition of Jewish Major Leaguers baseball cards. 

Are any JewishSportsCollectibles.com readers planning to attend the AJHS Night of Jewish Baseball? Share your experiences from the evening by commenting below, or by emailing jsportscollctr@gmail.com. And, stay tuned to JSC for pictures from the event in a future posting.

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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.


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.

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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.

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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.


Mitch Albom 'Time Keeper' Book Tour


Mitch Albom Facebook Banner
Mitch Albom.
Photo courtesy of
Mitch Albom/Facebook.

Jewish sports writer and author Mitch Albom has released a new book, The Time Keeper

The Time Keeper
The Time Keeper, by Mitch Albom.
Photo courtesy of Amazon.com.
Albom -- best known for writing the international best-selling Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life's Greatest Lesson -- is actively promoting his new novel with a book tour that includes stops at two Jewish Community Centers and a synagogue. 

The Time Keeper is Albom's "most imaginative novel yet," according to Amazon.com, in a review that describes the book as a "compelling fable about the first man on earth to count the hours. The man who became Father Time."

According to Albom's Facebook page, his Time Keeper tour includes events at: Sinai Temple in Los Angeles on Thursday, September 20, the United Jewish Community of the Virginia Peninsula in Newport News, Virginia on October 6, and the Mayerson JCC in Cincinnati, Ohio on October 21. 

Check Albom's Facebook page for additional details and a complete list of upcoming events. Albom's web site also offers a calendar of upcoming appearances.

Mitch Albom
Mitch Albom signs books in Columbus, Ohio in 2010. Photo by Joshua Platt, JewishSportsCollectibles.com.

I met Albom several years ago at a speaking engagement and book signing for Have A Little Faith at a synagogue here in Columbus in April 2010, and found him to be a generous in person signer.

There were more than 500 people at the event, and I'd bet 300+ were in line to meet Mitch after his speech. Albom chatted with attendees, inscribed and autographed every book he was handed (I'm proud to have all of his non-sports books in my collection of signed books), and posed for pictures. 

Albom no longer responds to fan mail, according to his web site. "With tens of millions of copies of my books sold worldwide," the site says, "accepting and sending out mail isn’t logistically possible for security and staff concerns." 

Tuesdays With Morrie
Tuesdays with Morrie, by
Mitch Albom.
Photo courtesy of Amazon.com
Prior to the posted policy being put in place, Albom signed my copy of Tuesdays With Morrie in response to a through-the-mail request that I sent to his office at the Detroit Free Press in 2001. I was pleasantly surprised to receive the book, considering my request was made during the height of the Morrie craze. 

My signed copy of Morrie is, unfortunately, not a first edition. Morrie had a first edition printing of just 20,000 copies, before exploding in popularity. True first editions, therefore, are rare, highly collectible and expensive. ABEbooks.com sells autographed firsts for as much as $500 to $800 or more. Nevertheless, I am thrilled to have it in my collection!

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In addition to Morrie and The Time Keeper, Albom is the author of The Five People You Meet in HeavenFor One More Day, and Have a Little Faith: A True Story, which recounts Albom's relationship with Rabbi Albert L. Lewis, who asked Albom to write his eulogy.

Prior to his fame from Morrie and his other novels, however, Albom was best known as a sports journalist.

Writing for Sports Illustrated, the Associated Press and the Detroit Free Press, among others, Albom became, according to Wikipedia, "one of the most award-winning sports writers of his era."

Bo
Bo, by Mitch Albom. Photo courtesy of Amazon.com.
Albom's sports books Bo: Life, Laughs, and Lessons of a College
Football Legend
 
(an autobiography of
Fab Five
Fab Five,
by Mitch Albom. Photo courtesy of Amazon.com.
football coach Bo Schembechler co-written with the coach) and The Fab Five: Basketball Trash Talk the American Dream (a profile of the 1992/1993 University of Michigan men's basketball teams) were both New York Times best sellers.

Fans of Albom's sports columns can read several anthologies, including Live Albom: The Best of Detroit Free Press Sports Columnist Mitch Albom Live Albom II , Live Albom III: Gone to the Dogs , and Live Albom 4.

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Are you planning to attend any of Albom's upcoming events? Have you met Mitch Albom before? Do you have any of his sports (or other) books in your collection? Share your thoughts and photos in the comments below.