With the recent passing of Labor Day, it seems a fitting time to pay tribute to the Jewish union leaders who have made — and continue to make — a significant impact on professional sports.
Baseball is the sport that has seen the most MOTs at the helm of its players' union. Since 1983 the Major League Baseball Players Association executive director's office has been filled by a Jew.
The eminent (and under recognized) Marvin Miller gave way to Don Fehr (who in 2010 traded his baseball cleats for hockey skates, moving to the National Hockey League Players' Association), and the office is now held by Michael Weiner,
Labor leaders, of course, need management foils. The suites of the various major sports have also been filled by Members of the Tribe.
Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig is the HHIC (head Hebrew In Charge) of Diamond Affairs.
Collectors interested in adding memorabilia associated with the Jewish labor leaders and league executives have limited, but varied, options.
Marvin Miller is immortalized on pasteboard with a 2005 Topps Fan Favorites (#80; refractor insert #77) and an Upper Deck 1994 American Epic (#74) cards. Both sell for under $1 on Beckett.
Miller is also included in the JML set (2007, #45, a card he shares with Fehr, and 2010, #44, a card featuring the labor leaders trio) and has a variety of paisley shirt/tie "relic" and autograph cards in the 2010 Topps Allen & Ginter series. The A&G relics have been selling for $20 or so on eBay, with the autograph moving for upwards of $30.
Miller has been known to respond autograph requests. He signed for me through-the-mail in the past, but took his time doing so (this is not a criticism, just an observation; no one is obliged to sign).
As he grows older and (justifiably) more upset about his exclusion from the Baseball Hall of Fame, I don't expect Miller will remain a willing signer — although I hope this assertion is incorrect.
Fehr and Weiner have been willing through-the-mail signers, at least in my experience. I've got autographed letters, on MLBPA letterhead, from both, along with Weiner's signed business card in my collection.
These include a Hero Deck playing card bearing his caricature, a Wisconsin Historical Museum issue (#63 in the series honoring the 1957 Brave), and JML cards (2006, #43, 2010, #43). The JML cards sell for $5-10.
I've seen the Wisconsin Museum card listed on eBay for $3. The playing card is available for around $2.
Selig has been a willing through the mail signer, in the past. He signed my Hero Deck card and enclosed a signed business card in response to my letter.
Selig is also memorialized in bronze, with a statue in his likeness having recently been unveiled outside of Miller Park. The St. Paul Saints issued a "Best Bud" statuette to commemorate the occasion.
The stadium give-away is limited to 2,500, and is selling for $10 and up on eBay. Selig's facsimile signature is, of course, on every official Major League Baseball. I'd love to add a signed Selig OML ball to my collection. Does anyone have one?
An eBay search for Bettman yields lots of unofficial photos, many signed, selling for approximately $25. Bettman has been featured in numerous hockey magazines, is also the author of the foreward to The Official Treasures of NHL Hockey.
Can the hockey collectors out there add to the list of Bettman memorabilia? Do any collectors have a puck signed by Bettman?
David has no cards of which I am aware. Jewish sports uber-collector Neil Keller has investigated publishing a Jewish basketball card set. If the project ever comes to fruition, it makes sense Hoops' Head Hebrew would be included.
Signed photos of the basketball commissioner are available on eBay, along with a variety of other memorabilia, for about $20. As always with the auction giant, buyer beware.
Does anyone know of Stern cards and memorabilia? Is he interviewed for The First Basket, the Jewish basketball documentary? Do you have any Stern memorabilia or autographs in your collection?
Author's note: A version of this posting was originally published on 9/7/2010, under the headline: "Don Fehr Trading Cleats for Skates."