Minor League Feed

Own Josh Zeid's Team Israel WBC Cleats


Josh Zeid Cleats
Josh Zeid cleats. Photo courtesy of eBay.

Just a week after Team Israel's heartbreaking extra innings loss to Spain in the 2013 World Baseball Classic qualifiers, Jewish baseball collectors have the opportunity to own game used cleats from one of the team's top pitcher.


Josh Zeid
Josh Zeid.
Photo courtesy
of MiLB.com.
Pitcher Josh Zeid, a prospect in the Houston Astro's minor league system, is selling a pair of his Team Israel cleats.

The cleats are being sold by "stvufit" on eBay. Starting bid is $75. Shipping is priced at $4.99. The auction runs through Saturday, October 6, 2012.

The listing says 50 percent of total price paid will be donated to charity, though it doesn't specify which organization.

Israel Baseball League veteran and Team Israel bullpen catcher Nate Fish maintains a blog, called The King of Jewish Baseball. According to Fish's "The Gear" video posting, each Team Israel WBC player was issued one pair of blue Under Armour cleats. Apparently, however, not every player wore the official issue cleats during game play.

The cleats up for bid at New Balance shoes. They match a pair of cleats shown in the background of a picture of Zeid on Fish's blog

Josh Zeid locker room
Josh Zeid in the Team Israel locker room.
Photo courtesy of http://kingofjewishbaseball.wordpress.com.

Further, they match the cleats worn in a picture of Zeid pitching Friday, September 21 victory over Spain that is posted on the Israel Baseball Facebook page

Josh Zeid Pitching
Josh Zeid pitching for Team Israel. Photo courtesy of Facebook.

Adding to the authenticity of the shoes is the fact that the sale of the cleats was promoted by Team Israel on it's Facebook page, in a September 30 posting.

Josh Zeid Cleats Posting
Team Israel Facebook posting about Josh Zeid's cleats. Photo courtesy of Facebook.com.

And, most important in determining the provenance of the cleats is the fact that Zeid himself confirmed ownership of the cleats to JewishSportsCollectibles.com via Twitter.

The pitcher says he wore the shoes during the last two games in the qualifiers, both against Spain, adding that he would sign a photo of himself pitching, and wearing the shoes, for the winning bidder.

Josh Zeid Twitter
Josh Zeid Twitter conversation, confirming provanance of his WBC cleats.
Photo courtesy of HootSuite.com.

So, if you have cash to spare, and want to own a pair of size 13 cleats used by a Team Israel pitcher in the World Baseball Classic as part of your Jewish baseball memorabilia collection, bid away!

 

 

 


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.


Team Israel Roster Released

Jewish baseball collectors rejoice!

Israel Sports Radio has published the Team Israel roster for the qualifying rounds of the 2013 World Baseball Classic.

WBC rules allow non-Israeli citizens of Jewish heritage to compete on behalf of Israel in the tournament. As such, the team is composed mostly of Jewish American minor leagues baseball players. Most of these players have baseball cards available for purchase.

It's been my experience that many of these players are terrific about signing autographs for collectors, both in person and through the mail.

Brett Lorin
Brett Lorin signed card and note.
Photo courtesy of Joshua Platt.
David Colvin
David Colvin. Photo courtesy of Joshua Platt.
Among the members of the pitching staff are Richard BleierDavid Colvin and Brett Lorin, all of whom recently responded to a late season minor league mailing I did.
Lorin included a note with his autographed card, and Colvin was kind enough to send me his Clinton LumberKings card, at his own expense. Read more about these minor league mensches in this posting.
 
Pitcher Eric Berger is a generous in-person signer. I corresponded with Berger via Twitter before I met him after a Columbus Clippers game early in May. He autographed seven or eight cards for me.
During a nearly 30-minute pre-game interview he granted for me in June, Berger told me "to represent Israel would be really cool." I'm thrilled for Eric to have this chance!

Also on the pitching staff are three native Israelis. Dan Rothem pitched in the short-lived Israel Baseball League in 2007. He's got a card in the Jewish Major Leaguers limited edition IBL card set. Get information on the cards, and other IBL memorabilia in this JewishSportsCollectibles.com posting.

Former Jewish Major Leaguers on the Team Israel roster include manager Brad AusmusShawn Green (DH) and Gabe Kapler (OF) will serve as player-coaches, while Andrew Lorraine handles the pitching coach duties. Josh Satin, a Mets minor leaguer who played in the Majors as a 2011 September call up is slated to play second base. All have signed autographs for me in response to previous through-the-mail requests I've done over the last four years.

Brad Ausmus  Gabe Kapler   Josh Satin Sand Gnats  Andrew Lorraine

***

Israel Tshirt
Team Israel t-shirt. Photo courtesy of PrintoMojo.com.
Regardless of the fact that Team Israel's WBC tournament run could be limited to just two games, there will -- no doubt -- be an array of collectibles available for Jewish baseball collectors, as described in this JewishSportsCollectibles.com posting about Team Israel collectibles.
Team Israel Hat
Official Team Israel World Baseball Classic hat. Photo courtesy of MLB.com.

Collectors can already purchase well-designed team logo t-shirts from PrintMojo.com, and the MLB.com Shop is selling slick Team Israel fitted baseball caps, as detailed in this previous posting.
 
Other memorabilia on the market now includes game tickets. Roger Dean Stadium will host the WBC qualifiers in which Israel plays. Tickets are not commemorative; they are, rather, standard tickets, featuring team names, dates of games and along with seating information. Tickets are available at the stadium and from TicketMaster.com for $8-14 (plus fees and shipping costs). I cannot, unfortunately, attend the series, but did buy a ticket as a keepsake for my collection.

Martin Abramowitz, publisher of the Jewish Major Leaguer card series, indicated in a post in early August on Team Israel's Facebook page that he planned to include an Israel WBC card in a planned 2015 release of JML cards. Can't wait to see the set!

***
 
Stay tuned to JewishSportsCollectibles.com over the next weeks. I'll be publishing a posting a series of Team Israel player collectible profiles on the site.

In the meantime, please comment below to let readers know what player cards and memorabilia you have in your Jewish baseball collection, to share photos of the games, or just express your excitement as Team Israel prepares to take the diamond on the world stage.

Minor League Mensch Mail


Brett Lorin
Brett Lorin signed card and note. Photo courtesy of Joshua Platt.
As the 2012 minor league baseball season was winding down, I completed a mailing to nearly three dozen Jewish minor leaguers. Using the JewishBaseballNews.com Players List as a guide, I mailed baseball cards and Signature Cards from The Autograph Card company to 34 players between August 20-22.

I've received 14 responses back from players, as of September 7.

These include a signed 2009 Midwest League All Star card from Brett Lorin that came with a note, written on a scrap of what I presume to be my request letter. The note reads: "Lecheim! Haha. Thanks." Interesting.

I've also received an autographed Signature Card and Draft Pick Signature card from Zach Borenstein, brother of Jews In Baseball blogger, Josh Borenstein.

What struck me as most impressive, though, were envelopes I received back on August 31 from three minor league mensches.

David Colvin of the Clintonville LumbuerKings, and Zach Kapstein and Jadd Schmeltzer of the Lowell Spinners each autographed the Signature Cards I'd included with my letters. Each of the players also included an autographed 2012 Grandstand team set baseball card with their response. 

That's classy! Thanks, guys.

                             Jadd Schmeltzer  Zach Kapstein  David Colvin

Have you had any success mailing to Jewish major or minor leaguers this season? What's your favorite "'graphing get"? Share your successes with JewishSportsCollectibles.com readers by commenting on this post below.