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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.


Team Israel World Baseball Classic Collectibles

WBC LogoThe qualifying rounds of the 2013 World Baseball Classic hold special appeal to Jewish baseball enthusiasts.

The international baseball tournament's September 19-23, 2012 games in Florida will include at least two appearances by Team Israel.

Although official rosters have not been released at the time of this posting, Team Israel will be heavily composed of Jewish American minor and major league baseball players (WBC rules allow non-Israeli citizens of Jewish heritage to compete on behalf of Israel in the tournament).

Team Israel Coaching Staff
Former Jewish Major Leaguers Shawn Green (player-coach), Gabe Kapler (player-coach) and Brad Ausmus (manager) will helm the Team Israel WBC squad. Photo courtesy of Israel Baseball.
Former Jewish Major Leaguer Brad Ausmus is the Team Israel manager. He's being assisted by former JMLers Shawn Green and Gabe Kapler, who will serve as player-coaches, and pitching coach Mark Lorraine. Numerous Jewish minor league players will round out the squad.

Columbus Clippers reliever Eric Berger, for example, tells JewishSportsCollectibles.com he's been approached about playing for Team Israel.

Berger says "to represent Israel would be really cool," and that he would pitch for the squad, if he has not been called up to the Indians or participating in the minor league post season. 

Should Team Israel qualify for WBC tournament play in March 2013, the team could boast a "Who's Who" of Jewish Major League players on the roster.

Kevin Youkilis in a Team Israel Jersey
Jewish Major Leaguer Kevin Youkilis poses in a Team Israel Jersey. Photo courtesy of Israel Baseball.
In an interview with Israel Sports Radio, Kevin Youkilis committed to play for the squad, if he's healthy.

Current and former Jewish Major Leaguers Ryan Braun, Craig Breslow, Ike Davis, Scott Feldman, Sam Fuld, John Grabow, Ryan Kalish, Ian Kinsler, Jason Marquis, Danny Valencia are also being considered for the team, although some may need to decide between playing for Team USA or Team Israel.

Regardless of the fact that Team Israel's WBC tournament run could be limited to just two games, there will -- no doubt -- be an expansive array of collectibles available for Jewish baseball collectors (memorabilia associated with the short-lived Israel Baseball League abounds, as detailed in this 2011 post on JewishSportsCollectibles.com). 

Major and minor league baseball cards for team members will be among the collectibles. Ausmus, Green and Kapler have been immortalized on cardboard on thousands of cards.

JML PostingMartin 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 (Stay tuned for more news on this! JSC.com hopes offer additional details on the next JML card set in a future posting).

The Way of Baseball
Shawn Green's The Way of Baseball. Photo courtesy of Amazon.com.
Ausmus, Green and Kapler are also featured on programs, bobble heads, photos and a wide selection of other memorabilia. Green is also the author of The Way of Baseball: Finding Stillness at 95 mph.

Follow the links below to do searches of Amazon.com, the Beckett Marketplace and eBay for cards and other collectibles associated with Team Israel's "Big Three":

Israel Tshirt
Team Israel t-shirt. Photo courtesy of PrintoMojo.com.
Other Team Israel collectibles include team logo t-shirts, available from PrintMojo.com. A blue design features "Israel" on the chest, with a sleeve design that includes a picture of a batter surrounded by a modified Star of David and text that says "Israel Baseball, Where Traditions Meet."

A gray shirt features "Property of Israel Baseball" and the picture of a batter surrounded by a modified Star of David on the chest with the "Israel Baseball, Where Traditions Meet" text.

Tickets to the WBC qualifying rounds are available for sale on TicketMaster.com.

Roger Dean Stadium will host the WBC qualifiers. A ticket sales representative tells JSC that no commemorative tickets are being sold. Standard tickets are available, however. The tickets will feature team names and dates of games, along with standard seating information, said the sale rep.

With tickets selling for between $8-14, collectors might consider buying tickets as keepsakes, even if they cannot attend the games.

As the tournament play begins, there's also certain to be photos, programs, score cards and other memorabilia that crops up, some of which will be sold in the stadium.

JewishSportsCollectibles.com will be keeping a look out for these items and will be providing updates for collectors. I'm also planning a mailing to players requesting autographs when rosters are set. I'll let you know whether this endeavor proves successful.

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Are you planning to attend the WBC qualifiers to watch Team Israel? Will you be buying tickets as keepsakes, even if you can't go? What other Team Israel collectibles and memorabilia exist? Let us know by commenting below.

 


Ryan Braun Private Signing on 9/10/12

Ryan Braun PhotoFile
Jewish Major Leaguer and NL MVP Ryan Braun. Photo courtesy of PhotoFile.com.
Waukesha Sportscards, a Wisconsin-based sports card shop and memorabilia dealer, will host a private signing with Jewish Major Leaguer Ryan Braun on September 10, 2012. The signing is being done in conjunction with Legends of the Field, the "exclusive Wisconsin distributor for authentic autographed Ryan Braun memorabilia" (click this link to read JewishSportsCollectibles.com's posting about Legends of the Field's June signing with Braun). 

The promotors are offering a variety of baseballs, bats, helmets, photos and artwork for purchase and signature. Jewish baseball collectors can also submit their own items to be autographed.

Prices range from $129-$189, depending on the item. Inscriptions cost $65 each. Specific pricing is available on Waukesha Sportscards web page and on Legends of the Field's site.

Collectors interested in participating in the private signing should call Waukesha Sportscards (262) 544-0959 or Legends of the Field at (262) 367-1300.

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Ryan Braun Legends of the Field Private Signing
Ryan Braun autographing baseballs during a private signing session. Photo courtesy of Legends of the Field.
Jewish baseball collectors have access to thousands of Braun cards. These include minor and major league cards of all form and fashions, with dozens of limited edition, autograph and memorabilia card varieties (Beckett.com shows 2,700+ different cards for Braun).

There are also thousands of Braun cards and collectibles listed on eBay, and available for direct purchase in the Beckett.com MarketplaceAmazon.com, the MLB Photo Store and SportsIllustrated.com (Braun is featured on several SI covers, as detailed in this JewishSportsCollectibles.com posting).

These include cards; bobble heads and figurines; photos, posters and art work; jerseys; bats; tickets associated with notable games; programs, yearbooks and other ephemera; etc.

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What Braun memorabilia should JewishSportsCollectibles.com readers know about? What Ryan Braun memorabilia do you have in your Jewish baseball collection?

Do you plan to buy anything from the upcoming Braun signing?

Let JSC.com by commenting below.


Topps' Tier One Bat Knob Inserts Include Carew, Kinsler

A recently received a news release from Topps promoting the June release of 2012 Topps Tier One Baseball got me thinking about Jewish baseball collectibles and truth in advertising.

Ty Cobb Bat Knob CardThe set will include "one of the most significant memorabilia inserts ever offered in a product. Inserted into packs of Topps Tier One will be 100 one-of-a-kind Bat Knob cards from the some of the most legendary names to ever step on the diamond."

Among the 100 featured players are all-time greats of the game, including Hank Aaron, Ty Cobb (pictured, left), Rod Carew (commence arguing amongst yourselves whether Carew's marriage to a Jew means he should be considered a JMLer by proxy or included in a Jewish baseball collection), Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, Monte Irvin, Mickey Mantle, Willie McCovey, Stan Musial, Cal Ripken, Jr., Babe Ruth, and Carl Yazstrzemski.


There's also a host of contemporary players featured on the inserts, including Jewish Major Leaguer Ian Kinsler ... and that's what got me thinking about Jewish baseball memorabilia and where I take issue with Topps' PR.

Ian Kinsler 2010 JMLJoining Kinsler among the modern players included in the inserts are Jay Bruce, Shin-Soo Choo, Jason Heyward and Andrew McCutchen.

Howard Megdal named Kinsler the starting second baseman on the all-time Jewish Major Leaguers team in The Baseball Talmud: The Definitive Position-by-Position Ranking of Baseball's Chosen Players. Kinsler is an All-Star second baseman, and his $15 million annual contract deservedly puts him among the league's elite second sackers. 

That said, Kinsler and his contemporaries -- including Nick Swisher, Troy Tulowitzki or Justin Upton -- are not yet, and may never be -- some of "the most legendary names to ever step on the diamond."

Baseball TalmudTake for instance Kinsler's status as a two-time member of the 30-30 Club (30 home runs, 30 stolen bases), where he joins landsmen Shawn Green and Ryan Braun (a tip of the cap to Jewish Baseball News, which does a great job of chronicling the exploits of JMLers).

This means Kinsler can hit for power and has speed on the base paths. He's been consistent and good. Kinsler is, as Megdal argues, the best Jewish second baseman to play the game. Does this, however, make Kinsler one of baseball's all-time greats?

Consider Mickey Mantle's take on being a member of the 40-40 Club. He is quoted as saying: "Hell, if I'd known 40-40 was going to be a big deal, I'd have done it every year!"

A few years of great stats doesn't make a baseball player, Jewish or otherwise, a Hall of Famer. Want more proof? See sportswriters' Mike and Neil Shalin's book, Out by a Step: The 100 Best Players Not in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Of the modern players included in the Topps Tier One bat knob inserts, I agree that A-Rod (if you can look past the steroids and egotism), Albert Pujols and Jim Thome, are among baseball's all-time greats. I prefer, however, to reserve judgement on many of the game's up-and-coming stars, including Kinsler.

Perhaps Topps could have written the new release to read: "Inserted into packs of Topps Tier One will be 100 one-of-a-kind Bat Knob cards from the some of the most legendary names to ever step on the diamond and some of the biggest names in the game today."

Does this marketing hype detract from the cool factor of the one-of-a-kind inserts? I don't think so. I would, however, prefer some truth in advertising.

What are your thoughts?

Regardless of what I think about the Topps PR, the Kinsler bat knob card is, no doubt, attractive to Jewish baseball memorabilia collectors. How much would you pay for a 1-of-1 Kinsler bat knob card?