There’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, released Nov. ‘8.
The collection of Semitic sluggers is the latest release from Martin Abramowitz, who came out with his initial set of Jewish major-leaguer cards 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.
The success of Abramowitz’s first set coupled with the relative ease of tracking him down (when he’s not poring over baseball records he’s the vice president of planning and agency relations at Boston’s Combined Jewish Philanthropies) lead to dozens of people calling him every week and pitching their uncles, fathers or grandfathers as card-worthy. About 99 percent of these calls end up being exercises in diplomacy for Abramowitz, as he has to politely insist 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."
Former pitcher Jose Bautista is also new to Abramowitz’s set. More than any other player, Bautista qualifies for the "Funny, you don’t look Jewish" cliche — he’s a black Dominican. But his mother was a Jew, and he has always been candid about his Jewish identity. In fact, he once told the Village Voice newspaper, "My family and I go to synagogue when we can and we pray every Friday. We fast on Yom Kippur and not only do I not pitch, I don’t even go to the ball game."
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. JTA