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April 24, 2014 - Image 59

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2014-04-24

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Left: Hank Greenberg, hard-hitting left-

arts & entertainment

fielder for the Detroit Tigers, crosses

home plate, June 4, 1940.

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Legendary Detroit Tigers slugger Hank
Greenberg is prominently featured in the
exhibit. Left to right: Hank Greenberg
and Joe DiMaggio, 1939.

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New museum exhibition swings for the fences.

Greg Salisbury

Philadelphia Jewish Exponent

I

've tried 'em all, I really have, and
the only church that truly feeds the
soul, day in, day out, is the Church of
Baseball."
Those words, spoken by Annie Savoy,
the baseball muse played by Susan
Sarandon in the 1988 film Bull Durham,
irreverently sum up the way that countless
millions of Americans have felt about the
national pastime since, well, it became the
national pastime.
It is a shrine that welcomes one and all,
whether you're standing in Ashburn Alley,
watching at home or combing through the
box scores. Baseball is the sports world's
version of the Statue of Liberty.
It is precisely this connecting force that
is the focus of a new exhibition at the
National Museum of American Jewish
History. Opening to coincide with this year's
Opening Day, "Chasing Dreams: Baseball

and Becoming American" explores the
sport's role in providing immigrants and
minorities with a bridge to connecting with
America and, in the process, feeling more
American themselves.
Providing a sense of identity for those
on the fringe through loyalty to the home-
town team, being able to participate in
water-cooler conversations about different
aspects of the game, and drawing inspira-
tion and pride from having a member of
your group excel on the field are just a few
of the ways that baseball has become more
than a game.
"Baseball's history, which dates well
back into the 19th century, interlocks with
American history:' said Josh Perelman,
the museum's chief curator and director of
exhibitions and collections.
"When most people think about base-
ball, they think of it as a sport and all the
fan activities around it. What we add to
the conversation is a new perspective on
issues of immigration, identity of minority

Now At Bat _

Michael Elkin

Philadelphia Jewish Exponent

I

t may be time to retire the old joke
about one of the slimmest books
in the library being Jewish Sports
Heroes — thanks to a new set of baseball
cards designed for the fans who have
made trading facts and figures about the
sport's ever-expanding Stars of David a
league of their own.
Previous editions of Jewish Major
Leaguer Baseball Cards proved to be such
a hit that they precipitated the launch
of the series' seventh edition, which has
arrived with an expanded lineup of play-
ers.
Attesting to the cards' popularity,
Martin Abramowitz, the creator of the

communities and diversity in our society!'
said Perelman, who co-curated this tem-
porary exhibition with associate curator
Ivy Weingram.
"Visitors to the exhibition will experi-
ence baseball in a new way — as a portal
through which minority communities
have negotiated what it means to be
American!"
To augment that experience, Perelman
and his staff have assembled more than
130 objects, the majority of which are
Jewishly linked, to help museum goers
understand how people have used baseball
to connect to America and to one another.
Among the memorabilia on display will
be original sheet music to "Take Me out to
the Ballgame" (music by Albert Von Tilzer,
ne Albert Gumbinski), ballpark giveaways,
stadium seats and plenty of game-used
objects like bats, balls and uniforms.
Howard Goldstein, a 62-year-old trial
lawyer from Jenkintown, Pa., lent a number
of those items to the museum. By his own

Hank Greenberg's Sultan of Swat crown,
bestowed in recognition of his 1938
season with the Tigers (he logged 58
homeruns, 2 shy of Babe Ruth's record)
by the Maryland Professional Baseball
Writers Association, 1965.

estimate, Goldstein has one of — if not the
most — extensive collection of Jewish base-
ball memorabilia in the country.
"I've been collecting all things related
to Jews and baseball" for almost 30 years,
he said.
His collection stretches from a bat
used by Guy Zinn, the first Jewish player
for the New York Yankees (known as the
Highlanders when he played for the team
in 1911) to jerseys worn by Max Patkin,
the "Clown Prince of Baseball:' who was a
comedic between-innings presence at ball-
parks across the country for decades.
Goldstein chose to eschew cards, rea-
soning that a lot of people collect those.
"Very few collect what I collect:' he

Glove Story on page 61

1, Jewish major Leaguers-

New Jewish baseball cards hit home.

series, quipped: "We are the first candi-
date for 2014 Comeback of the Year."
And they've come back in a big way.
First started in 2003, last released in 2010,
the card set — expanded to 50 in the new
edition — was released last month.
The new 50-card set has updated infor-
mation on current key figures, including
Kevin Youkilis, now playing in Japan.
Updated team information cards provide
an all-time roster; career leaders; Jewish
managers (Lipman Pike, Lou Boudreau,
Lefty Phillips and Norm Sherry join
Detroit Tigers' skipper Brad Ausmus in
this small club); "in memoriam cards for
Myron "Joe" Ginsberg (who started his
MLB career with the Tigers and caught
the first of two 1952 no-hitters pitched by
Tiger Virgil Trucks), Mary Rotblatt and Al

Federoff; and Jewish pitcher-catcher com-
binations including the Red Sox's Craig
Breslow and Ryan Lavarnway. There also
is a Jewish link to the Negro Leagues in
the person of Max Rosner.
There are also cards featuring artifacts
from "Chasing Dreams," the major exhibi-
tion at Philadelphia's National Museum of
American Jewish History, with items on
loan from the American Jewish Historical
Society. The two institutions jointly
sponsor this edition, and the cards are
available in NMAJH's gift shop. The cards
are licensed by Major League Baseball
and the Major League Baseball Players
Association.
Why the grand slam interest in Jewish
baseball cards now?
"I wouldn't say there is a renewed

Greatest Jewish Baseball ittA

interest in Jewish baseball cards!' said
Abramowitz. "It's been there for years, but
we didn't have the resources to produce
another set until a donor came along with
a generous gift.
"The larger phenomenon, of course, is
the renaissance of interest in Jews in base-
ball, which has been gaining steam for
about 15 years."
So why exactly has there been a sudden
spurt in Jewish players?

Now At Bat on page 63

April 24 • 2014

59

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