The chronicling and analysis of players' on-field exploits has some rich, and decidedly Jewish roots, and offers a fascinating niche for collectors.
Sports most-recognized statisticians, The Elias Sports Bureau, was founded by Jews.
Brothers Al Munro Elias and Walter Elias began selling baseball scorecards in 1913 and grew their family business into a company known as "the world's foremost sports statisticians and historians."
Burton and Benita Boxerman's Jews And Baseball: Volume I: Entering the American Mainstream, 1871-1948 devotes a fascinating chapter to the Elias brothers.
Vintage copies of the company's annual The Little Red Book,The Pocket Cyclopedia of Major League Baseball, and Green Book make wonderful additions to Jewish baseball collectors' shelves.
Collectors willing to spend $295 on eBay have the opportunity to own a 1923 Chicago Cubs check to the Elias Sports Bureau endorsed by Al and Walter. A Walter Elias signed letter on company letterhead is available for $125 on the auction portal.
For collectors with more modest budgets interested in owning Elias memorabilia, the 2010 Obak baseball card issue includes an Al Elias card (#72). These sell for less than $3 on eBay and the Beckett Marketplace.
Do you have any Elias memorabilia in your collection? If so, what is your most treasured piece?
Also, does anyone know if Seymour "Sy" Siwoff, who took over management of the company when the Elias brothers stepped back, was Jewish? How about current Elias exec Steve Hirdt?
Fast forward to Brooklyn in 1947 and you'll find the next Jewish link in the "moneyball" chain.
That's when Dodgers owner Branch Rickey hired Allan Roth as the first full-time statistician in baseball. The Montreal Native and member of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, pioneered the importance of on-base percentage, RBI percentage and pitch counts. He worked for the Dodgers, provided stats for radio and TV broadcasts, and edited Who's Who In Baseball.
Collectors seeking Roth memorabilia have a variety of options.
An eBay search shows vintage issues of Who's Who, '50s era Dodgers statistics guides (which the seller says come from Roth's personal collection – the seller has 100% positive feedback, but buyer beware), several vintage photo negatives, and program from Roth's 2010 induction into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.
As they did for the Elias Brothers in their first Jews and Baseball volume, the Boxerman's devote a chapter to Roth in Jews and Baseball: Volume 2, The Post-Greenberg Years, 1949-2008 (check out JewishSportsCollectibles.com review of the book).
I bought one of the photos of Roth that I found on eBay while researching this posting. I'm proud to add the piece to my Jewish baseball collection. What Roth memorabilia do you have in your's?
Moving into the modern era, we arrive at the Boston Red Sox c-suite. The office that Theo Epstein calls home (for now).
According to the article "The Art Of Winning An (even More) Unfair Game," a in the September 26 issue of Sports Illustrated, Moneyball author Michael Lewis approached Epstein about including the Sox in his book. Epstein balked at the idea, not wanting to share his methods with the rest of baseball. Epstein, in fact, thought the A's Billy Beane was giving away the recipe for the secret sauce. Using SABRmetrics, Epstein and the Red Sox won the team's first World Series since 1918.
The Yale grad is featured several baseball cards. These include a 2004 Red Sox team card, 2005 Topps Fan Favorites, including autographed, color and printing plate variations, 2006 Topps Autographs. Epstein is also depicted in caricature on a Red Sox Hero Deck playing card.
The 2005 Topps Fan Favorite standard issue sells for as little as $0.29 in the Beckett Marketplace. The HeroDeck issue for $2-3.
eBay is ripe with Epstein memorabilia, including signed jerseys, bats, balls, and photos.
Epstein is also the subject of numerous books, available on Amazon. These include the biography, Theology: How A Boy Wonder Led The Red Sox To The Promised Land.
I have tried, unsuccessfully, to get Epstein to sign autographs through the mail. What have your experiences been in getting the Sox GM to sign? What memorabilia do you have in your collection? What's your favorite piece and why?
Howard Megdal's The Baseball Talmud: The Definitive Position-by-Position Ranking
of Baseball's Chosen Players uses "moneyball" principals to provide a statistical analysis of the best Jewish baseball players of all time. The book is a must own for Jewish baseball collectors (in my humble opinion).
The Extra 2%: How Wall Street Strategies Took a Major League Baseball Team from Worst to First examines how the Tampa Bay Rays — and their Jewish ownership — used SABRmetrics to stockpile high-value draft picks and minor league prospects and turn the Tampa team from perennial cellar dwellers into a respectable team that regularly makes the playoffs, despite competing against the Yankees ad Red Sox, teams with much great resources.
Lastly, if Jonah Hill's status as Brad Pitt's co-star in the film is enough to qualify it as a Jewish baseball movie in your definition, Moneyball — the movie itself — offers collectors a bevy of interesting opportunities. Think movie posters, lobby cards, DVDs, publicity photos, entertainment magazines, etc.
Will you collect Moneyball the movie because of its Jewish co-star? What memorabilia do you want in your collection?