During the World Series, JewishSportsCollectibles.com has provided overviews of the cards and memorabilia for Jewish World Series MVP winners Larry Sherry (1959), Sandy Koufax (1963 and 1965).
In this posting, the final in the series, we look at the collectibles of Steve Yeager -- who converted to Judaism following his playing career -- who shared the 1981 World Series MVP hardware withDodgers teammates Ron Cey and Pedro Guerrero.
The former backstop has nearly 150 different cards available, according to Beckett.com checklist and TradingCardDatabase.com.
These include dozens of different Topps, O-Pee-Chee, Donruss and Fleer cards from 1973 through 1987, and more than a dozen oddball and regional issues, including several Dodgers team cards, package insert cards from Burger Chef, Hostess, Mother's and Nestle, and a Hero Deck playing card.
Yeager also is the subject of numerous Topps and Upper Deck modern tribute and archival issues from 2000 to present, including several memorabilia and autograph cards (like the 2004 Upper Deck Legends autograph card pictured above right).
As a minor league and independent league coach and skipper, Yeager is also featured on cards for the San Bernadino Stampede, Long Beach Breakers, Jacksonville Suns, Las Vegas 51s, Inland Empire 66ers, and Long Beach Armada.
Yeager, of course, also has a card in the Jewish Major Leaguers series (JML 2003, #106).
With the exception of a small handful of the vintage regional and oddball cards and the modern autograph and memorabilia cards, most of Yeager's cards are considered common. Printed during the glut of over-printed, poorly-designed issues in the 1980s, they sell for $1 or less in ungraded conditions on eBay and the Beckett.com Marketplace.
The vintage regional and modern memorabilia cards will set collectors back $20-$30, or more, on eBay and Beckett, depending on condition and variation.
A bevy of Yeager photos -- including autographed publicity stills and vintage newspaper pictures -- signed bats, baseballs, helmets and bases, and programs, scorecards, yearbooks and ticket stubs can be found on Amazon.com and eBay.
Prices vary widely by seller, season and piece. Expect to pay approximately $75-$100 for Yeager autographed memorabilia, $200-$300 for tri-MVP signed items, and more for team signed collectibles. As always, buyer beware.
As to equipment, a catchers' mask would make an especially interesting addition to one's Yeager collection. In 1976, after being impaled in the neck by shards from a shattered bat, Yeager and the Dodgers team trained invented and patented a throat protector for his catcher's mask. The gear is now standard equipment for most backstops. Do any JSC.com readers have a signed catchers mask, with Yeager throat protector, or a chest protector or shin guards in their collection?
For collectors with more esoteric interests, the former catcher's collectibles extend well beyond the ball field.
In 1989, Yeager made his movie debut in Major League, with a bit part as Duke Temple. Yeager also appeared in the film's two sequels, and on several television programs in the '70s and '80s.
Memorabilia from the original Major League includes movie posters and lobby cards, Major League etc. There are also promotional baseball cards -- including one for Yeager as Temple -- put out by the studio and by art card creators. Does anyone have these oddball issues in their collection? More importantly, does anyone else appreciate the irony of his character's name, considering Yeager's conversion?
Movies aren't the only place Yeager shows his face and other (ahem!) assets. He also graces the pages in several editions of Playgirl, the infamous magazine that provides "entertainment for women."
Apparently the convert catcher had major '80s sex appear (must be the hair!), because he's the "celebrity nude" in the October 1982 edition and has images in the January 1983 issue, with fellow major leaguer Bucky Dent and two other players in the September 1983 issue, and again in the January 1984 edition.
Back issues of Playgirl featuring Steve Yeager's tush can be found on Amazon.com and eBay for $10-20, in case you were wondering. For reasons unknown to me, one Amazon seller lists the Yeager magazines for more than $300. Really.
Do you have this most intimate of Yeager items (if you must, click here to see Yeager in all his glory!) in your collection? Would you ever want it (not that there's anything wrong with that!)? If you did, would you want to have Yeager sign the centerfold?
If you asnwered yes to the last question, you'd have plenty of opportunity. Yeager is a regular on the autograph circuit, according to SigningsHotline.com. His most recent appearance was in September at Dodger Stadium.
Have you had the chance to meet the World Series MVP? What's your favorite Yeager memorabilia? Leave a comment below and let JSC.com readers know.