And here’s a funny story about the time the Philadelphia A’s first baseman Lou Limmer stepped up to the plate against the Detroit Tigers’ Saul Rogovin while Myron Ginsberg caught.
The umpire laughed and said, "Well, well, three Heebs. Wonder who’ll prevail?" (This was the early 1950s and you could still make jokes like that.)
Limmer smacked a home run and that answered that.
That anecdote and many others are included in a new set of Jewish major-leaguers baseball cards. The collection is the latest release from Martin Abramowitz, who came out with his initial set in ‘003.
The new 55-piece set contains cards for the six Jews who have broken into the big leagues since then, six old-time Jewish ballplayers Abramowitz has since unearthed, and four women who played in the wartime girls’ baseball league. It also comes stocked with trivia and theme cards.
Dozens of people call Abramowitz every week, pitching their uncles, fathers, or grandfathers as card-worthy. About 99 percent of these calls end up being exercises in diplomacy for Abramowitz, who politely insists that a card set of Jewish major-leaguers includes only players who actually played major-league baseball.
But a caller named Joe Weinert mentioned his father, Lefty Weinert, who didn’t let his children know he was Jewish until they were teenagers. Not only did Lefty Weinert pitch in the big leagues, he won a spot in a book entitled "The Worst Baseball Pitchers of All-Time."
While Lefty might have been one of the worst, Lou Boudreau was one of the best. The Hall of Fame player and manager for the Cleveland Indians was the son of a Jewish mother and Christian father. "For years he gave off-putting answers to Jewish fans asking for an autograph. But Ira Berkow of the New York Times says Lou told him he was Jewish in his later years, and that’s good enough for us," said Abramowitz.
Former San Francisco Giant Jose Bautista is also new to Abramowitz’s set. More than any other player, Bautista qualifies for the "Funny, you don’t look Jewish" clich? — he’s a black Dominican. But his mother was a Jew, and he has always been candid about his Jewish identity.
The set features a card for each of the 13 current Jewish major leaguers and memorial cards for the former players who have died since the first set.
The $36 collection is printed by Upper Deck and can be ordered at www.ajhs.org or at (866) 740-8013.
This story originally appeared in j. the Jewish news weekly of Northern California.