Marv Rotblatt Feed

Obituary: Marv Rotblatt

Marv Rotblatt 1951 Bowman
Marv Rotblatt 1951 Bowman. Photo courtesy of eBay.
Former Jewish Major Leaguer Marvin "Marv" Rotblatt died July 16, 2013, at age 85, according to this obituary from the Weinstein Funeral Home in Wilmette, IL and this remembrance from the New York Times.

Rotblatt pitched for the University of Illinois while in college. In 1948, he struck out 18 Purdue batters, a Big Ten conference record, according to Day by Day in Jewish Sports History

The strikeout record stood until 1965, according to Matt Wille, assistant sports information director at University of Illinois. Rotblatt remains among the Illini's top pitchers, according to the school's 2013 media guide.

Standing just 5'6" tall, Rotblatt was "one of major league baseball’s shortest pitchers," according to the NY Times. Tim Wiles, The National Baseball Hall of Fame's director of research, states that both Lee Viau and Dinty Gearin were shorter, with each measuring just 5'4" (the Weinstein obituary states that Rotblatt was "the shortest pitcher to ever play major league baseball").

Rotblatt's height, or lack of it, earned him same infamy. He pitched as "Little David" for the House of David exhibition team while in college and once struck out 17 in a game against the Harlem Globetrotters, according to The Big Book of Jewish Baseball

Playing three seasons with the Chicago White Sox, Rotblatt pitched in 35 games, tallying a 4-3 record and notching two saves during the 1948, 1950 and 1951 campaigns. Rotblatt also initiated a triple play during his time in The Bigs, according to the obituary from the funeral home.

Rotblatt's New York Times obituary notes that students at Carleton College in Minnesota play a nearly 150-inning, alcohol-fueled intramural softball game named after the pitcher.

According to the Weinstein obituary, Rotblatt is a member of the The Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. The organization's web site, however, does not include him among its inductees.

The same obituary says that Rotblatt is a member of the University of Illinois Hall of Fame. While Rotblatt remains a leader among Illini pitchers 50+ years after he took the mound for the school, University of Illinois Assistant SID Matt Wille tells JewishSportsCollectibles.com that no hall of fame exists for U of I Athletics.

My purpose in pointing out these inconsitencies is not to detract from Rotblatt's on the field accomplishments. It is, merely, to set the record straight.

Perhaps fittingly, considering Rotblatt's short stature and brief career,Jewish baseball collectors have a limited number of trading cards depicting Rotblatt.

Beckett.com lists only the 1951 Bowman (#303 in the beautiful series) and card #73 in the 2003 edition of the Jewish Major Leaguers card set among Rotblatt's pasteboard. 

The Bowman card, pictured above right, sells for between $5 and $75 on the Beckett MarketplaceeBay and Amazon.com, depending on condition.

Marv Rotblatt 1950 Hages Dairy card
Marv Rotblatt 1950 Hages Dairy card. Photo courtesy of Amazon.com.
Amazon.com lists another Rotblatt baseball card, a 1950 Sacramento Solons Hages Dairy card (#73), available for $210.

A few Rotblatt signed index cards are available on both eBayand Amazon.com as of this listing. As always, buyer beware.

Determined collectors may also find memorabilia associated with Rotblatt's distinguished minor league career, including vintage programs, on eBay.

Collectors of Jewish baseball books can find Rotblatt featured in The Baseball Talmud: The Definitive Position-by-Position Ranking of Baseball's Chosen PlayersThe Big Book of Jewish Baseball, Day by Day in Jewish Sports History, Jewish Major Leaguers in Their Own Words: Oral Histories of 23 Players and Jews and Baseball: Volume 2, The Post-Greenberg Years, 1949-2008, all of which are available on Amazon.com.

Rotblatt also appears in the documentary film Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story. In the movie, Rotblatt described how he idolized Hank Greenberg.

What other Marv Rotblatt memorabilia is available? What do you have in your Jewish baseball collection? Did you ever have the opportunity to meet Mr. Rotblatt.

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