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Wilt Chamberlain: 'Borscht Belt Bellhop'


Wilt Chamberlain BellHop
Wilt Chamberlain: Borscht Belt Bellhop. Photo courtesy of Kutshersdoc.Jimdo.com.
Wilt Chamberlain: Borscht Belt Bellhop is currently airing on ESPN's 30 for 30 series. The documentary short film, from the Jewish filmmakers who made Welcome to Kutsher's, sheds light on basketball great Wilt Chamberlain's Jewish connections and ties to the famed Catskills resort.

Directed and produced by Caroline Laskow and Ian Rosenberg, both Jews, Borscht Belt Bellhop examines Wilt Chamberlain's time working at Kutsher’s Country Club in New York's Catskill Mountain region in the summer of 1954.

Then a senior in high school, the future Basketball Hall of Famer served as a bellhop by day, and played basketball for the Kutscher's basketball team, which was coached by Jewish coaching legend Arnold "Red" Auerbach, who would later go on to a Hall of Fame career coaching the Boston Celtics.

According to the film's web site:

"Mixing rarely-seen archival video and interviews with people who lived and worked with Wilt during that magical summer, this documentary short reveals an unexplored and pivotal chapter in the life of one of basketball’s greatest players, and a fascinating glimpse of a time when a very different era of basketball met the Borscht Belt in its heyday." 

Wilt Chamberlain BellHop screencap
The film is available to view, in it's entirety, on ESPN's web site (or by clicking on the image above). Borscht Belt Bellhop is also being screened at a variety of film festivals. Visit the documentary's web site for a list of upcoming showings.

The mini-documentary about Chamberlain is an outgrowth of Laskow and Rosenberg's Welcome to Kutsher's: The Last Catskills Resort.

That film, released in 2012, takes a "fuller look at the increasingly forgotten aspects of this unique chapter of the Jewish American experience," Rosenberg said in an email to JewishSportsCollectibles.com. The film is expected to release on DVD later this year, according to Rosenberg.

Other than the soon-to-be released Welcome to Kutsher's DVD, memorabilia from both films is extremely limited. Rosenberg says that he and Laskow don't expect to have any merchandise to sell. "ESPN Films may later make the 30 for 30 Shorts available for sale at some point," Rosenberg told JSC, "but that's out of our hands." 

For now, posters from and tickets to the various film festivals at which the documentaries have been (or will be) shown may be a Jewish basketball collector's only option. Borscht Belt Bellhop made is festival debut at the internationally-acclaimed Tribecca Film Festival, for example. Visit the film's web site for a list of past and upcoming screenings.

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In addition to the documentary film, Jewish basketball enthusiasts have access to a wide variety of cards and memorabilia associated with Chamberlain and Auerbach, including books, jerseys, autographed photos, basketballs, etc.

Wilt Chamberlain card
Wilt Chamberlain Panini Century Greats card. Photo courtesy of eBay.
Chamberlain is the subject of hundreds of basketball cards and numerous books. For a checklist of his pasteboard, visit Beckett.com. To purchase Chamberlain's cards and other collectibles, visit the Beckett Marketplace, eBay or Amazon.com.
Red Auerbach
Red Auerbach Center Court Art postcard. Photo courtesy of eBay.

Likewise, Red Auerbach cards -- including several specifically Jewish basketball cards -- and memorabilia is plentiful. For a checklist of his cards, visit Beckett.com. To purchase Auerbach collectibles, visit the Beckett Marketplace, eBay or Amazon.com.

For a look at some of the Red Auerbach memorabilia collection sold at auction by SCP Auctions in 2011, check out this posting from JewishSportsCollectibles.com.

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Have you seen Borscht Belt Bellhop or the Kutsher's documentary? What Red Auerbach memorabilia is part of your Jewish basketball collection? Given his connections to the community, does Wilt Chamberlain have a place in your Jewish basekball catalogue?

Let JewishSportsCollectibles.com readers know by commenting below.


Orthodox Boxer Dmitriy Salita Fights October 20


Dmitriy Salita Fight
Dmitriy Salita (left) vs. Ronnie Warrior Jr. Photo by Alex Gorokhov, courtesy of www.dsalita.com.

Orthodox Jewish welterweight boxer Dmitriy "The Star of David" Salita will step into the ring as part of the opening night fights at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York on Saturday, October 20.

Salita will fight either Brandon Hoskins, according to a report on KaplansKorner.com, in one of the under card bouts scheduled for the grand opening event.

Salita's story is intriguing.

Born in 1980 in Odessa, Ukraine in the former Soviet Union, Salita moved to Brooklyn at age nine, according to his Wikipedia bio, to escape anti-Semitic violence.

Bullied in school, Salita took up karate and boxing to learn to defend himself. "That is how it all started. I got called into the principal's office. I got suspended a few times, but I got my respect. I started kicking some ass at school."

Salita began boxing competitively at age 13, won a championship in the April 2001 New York Golden Gloves competition and turned pro at age 19 later that year. He has since won 36 fights, losing only one match and fighting to a draw in one, according to BoxRec.com.

Orthodox Stance
Orthodox Stance DVD.
Photo courtesy of
OrthodoxStance.com.
Dmitriy Salita Gloves
Salita signed
boxing gloves. Photo courtesy DSalitas.com.
While growing up in Brooklyn, Salitas was exposed to Orthodox Judaism and became fully observant. He keeps kosher and observes Sabbath, refusing to fight before sundown on Saturdays or on Jewish holidays.

Jewish boxing fans have access to a small, but varied, number of Salita collectibles.

The boxer, who fights wearing trunks that bear a Star of David, maintains a web site, on which he sells merchandise, including autographed, training ring worn boxing gloves and signed fight worn corner jackets. Cost for either item is $250 plus $20 shipping.

There are also a number of high quality images available on Salita's web site. Most (like the one featured above) feature the boxer in the ring, and would make nice additions to a boxing collection, especially if a collector could get a print signed by the Jewish fighter.

Salita is also the focus of a documentary film, titled Orthodox Stance. DVDs of the film can be purchased on Amazon.com and eBay, but not from the film's web site.

The trailer for the documentary can be seen below.

 

A search of eBay yielded little beyond the DVD, at the time of this posting. A poster for Salita's 2009 championship fight against Amir Khan, which Salita lost by knockout in 76 seconds, is for sale on the auction giant.

Khan Salita Poster
Khan vs. Salita poster. Photo courtesy of eBay.

Amazon.com offers photos, puzzles and photo mugs with images of Khan from the fight, but none of Salitas.

Beckett.com lists no boxing card for Salitas, and the Beckett Marketplace was also void of the fighter's memorabilia.

Certainly, other Salitas collectibles exist, including tickets, programs and promotional materials for other fights.

For fans who collect friend and tweets, Salida is active on Twitter (@DSalita) and Facbook.

What other Salitas collectibles exist? What memorabilia associated with the fighter do you have in your Jewish boxing collection? Let JewishSportsCollectibles.com readers know by commenting below.


Update: Adam Greenberg Poster Stadium Give Away

Adam Greenberg OneAtBat SGA Poster
Adam Greenberg One At Bat SGA Poster.
Photo courtesy of the Miami Marlins/Instagram.
The first 15,000 fans entering Marlins Park on Tuesday, October 2, for the Miami Marlins' game against the Mets received a commemorative Adam Greenberg "One At Bat" poster, as reported in this previous posting on JewishSportsCollectibles.com.

The poster is similar to the one fans can download for free from OneAtBat.com, but includes the date and location of Adam's return to the Major Leagues.

Immediately following Greenberg's three-pitch strike out, attendees began selling the posters on eBay.

Prices are all over the board, with publicity about Greenberg's one at bat artificially inflating prices.

The posters were selling for between $0.99 and $25 at the time of this posting.

Several posters signed by Greenberg, and by Greenber and One At Bat's Matt Liston are also up for bid. Proceeds from the sale of these posters benefit the Sports Legacy Institute, a group that studies concussions and traumatic brain injuries in athletes. Greenberg donated his one day's pay from the Marlins to the organization. Prices for the autographed posters range from $15-45, as of this posting.

Some attendees are also selling ticket stubs from the game, either as single items, or bundled with the posters. 

Prices on the tickets range from $0.99 to $28.

I expect prices on both the tickets and posters will come down as the PR buzz fades.

Patient collectors may be able to save a buck or two in this way. 

Did you attend the game? Do you have a One At Bat poster or ticket stub from Adam's return to the Major Leagues in your Jewish baseball collection? Will you buy one?

Let JewishSportsCollectibles.com readers know by commenting below.

 


Adam Greenberg: One More At-Bat

Adam Greenberg
Adam Greenberg.
Photo courtesy of PalmBeachPost.com.
Adam Greenberg will get one more at-bat, becoming a once -- and once again -- Jewish Major Leaguer!

The Miami Marlins (coincidentally, owned by MOT Jeffrey Loria) have signed the former JMLer -- who's previous big league career consisted of being hit in the head by the first pitch he saw -- to a one game contract.

Greenberg will play for the Marlins tonight, in their second-to-last game, against the New York Mets, on Tuesday, October 2.

The move is, clearly, a publicity stunt by the Marlins, a team that has had a disastrous season, and is generating as many cries about the "integrity of the game" as it is cheers for Greenberg.

ESPN originally reported that Marlin's manager Ozzie Guillen would start Greenberg in the outfield and have him lead-off the bottom of the first inning against Met's 20-game winner and knuckle ball phenom R.A. Dickey, after which Guillen would remove Greenberg from the game.

Guillen, perhaps feeling the pressures of critics, now says he doesn't have a specific plan in mind for Greenberg's at bat.

"I'm going to manage my team to win the game. I'll figure out how to play him. ... We shouldn't have any problems. ...I think if the kid gets a hit in the first at-bat, he might get another one."

True to his nature, Greenberg is taking the publicity in stride. He's being a mensch about the Marlin's contract, donating his one day's pay (about $2,600) to the Marlin's charitable foundation. The Marlins, in turn, are donating the to the Sports Legacy Institute, a group that studies traumatic brain injuries in athletes, according to the Palm Beach Post.

Greenberg, who was a last minute addition to the Team Israel roster -- replacing the injured Gabe Kapler -- was extended the Marlin's contract offer just hours after Team Israel lost to Spain in the World Baseball Classic qualifiers finals.

Days later, he was sharing the news of his second chance on The Today Show. If you haven't had the chance to see it, I've included the video below. I defy you not to get goose bumps!

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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.
 
Adam Greenberg Daytona Cubs
Adam Greenberg Daytona Cubs card. Photo courtesy of eBay.
Greenberg's minor league issues include 2003 and 2004 Daytona Beach Cubs, 2005 and 2006 West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx cards.

Adam played several seasons for the independent league Bridgeport Bluefish. 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. My calls to the team to inquire about Greenberg's cards have not been returned. Does anyone know if Adam is featured on any Blueffish pasteboard?

Greenberg also has cards in the 2008 and 2010 Jewish Major Leaguers sets, and is likely to have more JML baseball cards available in the near future, as a result of his play for Team Israel and the signing by the Marlins.

As previously reported by JewishSportsCollectibles.com, 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 planned 2015 JML edition. I hope there will also be a card featuring Greenberg in his Marlin's gear.

Adam Greenberg JML Card
Adam Greenberg JML card. Photo courtesy of Joshua Platt.
All of Greenberg's cards are readily available on eBay, the Becket Marketplace and Amazon.com. They generally sell for between $3-5 for singles, with some minor league team issues and the Chrome, Refractor and autographed Bowman cards costing between $5-10.

The publicity surrounding Greenberg's appearance means more of his cards are for sale, but it is also driving up prices on all of his memorabilia. During the WBC, Greenberg's cards were selling at about 50% of their prices today. I expect the prices will drop to more reasonable levels when the hype surrounding Adam's appearance tonight cools.

Beyond his baseball cards, there is not much Greenberg memorabilia listed on eBay, as of this posting. 

Other items include several autographed baseballs and photos, and a cracked Greenberg model bat, listed as game-used (as always, buyers beware!). There is also a generic University of North Carolina replica jersey (Greenberg played college ball for the Tar Heels).

I suspect more collectibles will become available on eBay following Adam's appearance tonight. These include game tickets, programs, score cards, photos, etc.

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, as of this posting.

Again, I presume the Marlins and Major League Baseball will embrace the PR buzz associated with Adam's return to the Bigs, and that numerous photos will become available.

The New York Times ran a beautiful image on Greenberg recently, but it is not for sale through the Times' online store. Here, again, I expect additional images to follow with the flood of coverage that Adam's story is generating.

One At Bat Adam Greenberg Poster
One At Bat poster.
Photo courtesy of OneAtBat.com.
Greenberg's feel good comeback was made possible, in part, by an online petition from sports documentary film maker Matt Liston, who spearheaded The "One At Bat" campaign, as described in the Today Show story.

Collectors can download and print a One At Bat poster from the campaign's web site. The poster, while visually arresting, does not feature Greenberg's likeness. It would, in my opinion, make an intriguing addition to any Greenberg collection, regardless.

Anyone interested can also follow Adam's story in video clips posted to Liston's YouTube channel. Does saving online video clips count as "collecting"? If so, start your hard drives!

Greenberg's saga is recounted in several Jewish baseball books, for collectors who prefer to keep their memorabilia on the book shelf.

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 Greenberg's 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? Are you attending tonight's game?

Share your thoughts and photos 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

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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!

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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.