Thursday, April 1, 2010

A Tip of the Yarmulke to Martin Abramowitz

Martin Abramowitz has been making baseball cards since 2003. But not just ordinary baseball cards. Martin has paid tribute to Jewish Major Leaguers spanning the rich timeline of America's Pastime. And now that Martin is calling it quits with his final set of cards, "Deck of the Decade," I will pay tribute to Martin.

I had a chance to look at the cards, and let me just say they did not disappoint. The first thing that struck me was Martin's obvious passion for the subject, a passion which I and readers of this blog share. I believe it would be fair to say that Martin's passion is equaled by his extensive knowledge. The cards look fantastic and are filled with an array of stats, snapshots, and stories.

This set of cards offers a nice blend of style and substance and truly encapsulates the distinguished and diverse accomplishments of the decade. The cards also look at the decade from an historical perspective and pay homage to the Jewish ballplayers who paved the way for today's generation of stars. Passover has come and gone. Do not pass up the chance to add these cards to your collection!

Below you will find an interview I recently conducted with Mr. Abramowitz:

Q: Growing up, what team did you root for, and who were some of your favorite (Jewish and non-Jewish alike) players?

A: I was the only kid in Brooklyn in the late 40's and 50's who rooted for the Yankees: the folks who owned the only TV in our apartment house was a Yankees fan, so rooting for them was the price of admission, plus... those were the great years from my 9th birthday through my teens, from 49-53, and again after 54, they were almost invincible. It's not hard to get used to rooting for the champions.

Q: I've been asked this a few times, and I'm still not sure I got it right. I sometimes think this is like asking who is funnier: Woody Allen or Mel Brooks? But I have to ask... Koufax or Greenberg? Who was better?

A: Unanswerable.

Q: You released your first set of cards back in 2003. What prompted you to start making these baseball cards?

A: The idea was to make sure every Jewish baseball player in the history of the game had a card. In 2000, we knew of 142 players, of whom only 100 had cards. The idea to make the set came from my 11-year old son Jacob. I wanted to give the players who didn't have cards "that piece of immortality which is a baseball card." I also wanted to complete my own collection!

Q: Your website says that your mission this decade has been to document American Jews in America's game. I think it's safe to say, "Mission accomplished." In terms of Jews in baseball, what stands out to you this decade?

A: Almost too many things to mention. This decade had a record-29 Jewish Major Leaguers see time on the field. Shawn Green's 19 total bases in a game has to be considered one of the greatest offensive performances of all time. Ian Kinsler hit for the cycle and was 6-6. Gabe Kapler set a Rangers' franchise record with his 28-game hitting streak. Kevin Youkilis' errorless streak at first base was outstanding. Ryan Braun won Rookie of the Year in 2007.

Off the field, it's also been an exceptional decade. We've made 6 sets of cards and 2 Hall of Fame programs. The Hank Greenberg documentary came out, along with Peter Horvitz's The Big Book of Jewish Baseball, the Boxerman's two-volume history of Jews in baseball, and Howard Megdal's The Baseball Talmud. We've also had biographies and autobiographies published on Sandy Koufax, Ron Blomberg, and Art Shamsky. We even had pro ball in Israel. And very soon the film, Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story, will be released.

Q: You are releasing your sixth and final set of cards, the 2010 "Deck of the Decade." What can you tell us about this card set?

A: It's a record of the decade as its name implies; all 29 players, plus decade highlights.

Q: It's clear you are an authority on this subject, and on your website you intimate that a book could be in the works. Have you given any more thought to this?

A: We've conducted a set of oral history interviews, which we expect will be published in the next year or so.


William said...

Cool guy. Nice work.

KleoPatra said...

Excellent read!

Here's a story i wrote a bit ago (2006) that you might want to skim if you're interested at all...

Josh Borenstein said...

I dug your story, Karen.