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This Doctor Has The World’s Largest Collection Of Jewish Baseball Cards

The annals of baseball history are rife with Jews of exceptional ability, from Sandy Koufax and Hank Greenberg to modern sluggers Kevin Youkilis and Astros All-Star Alex Bregman. Less remembered are the Chosen People’s baseball diamond duds, remarkable for something other than their athletic prowess.

But even also-ran baserunners deserve a custodian. Enter Doctor Seymour Stoll, a California-based physician and baseball card collector who, in the latest episode of Deadspin’s “Let’s Remember Some Guys” series — wherein editor David Roth does as the title suggests – jogged our memory of some deep-cut Jewish players.

In his Beverly Hills home, Stoll, whose extensive collection of Jewish baseball cards often tours the country as part of an exhibition called “Chasing Dreams: Baseball And Becoming American,” shows Roth one of two of his Ron Blomberg cards. Blomberg, as Stoll reports, was the first designated hitter in Major League Baseball (he wrote a book, “Designated Hebrew,” about this distinction) having the first plate appearance in the position while playing for the Yankees in 1973. Blomberg would go on to manage the Bet Shemesh Blue Sox, the first and only champion team in the brief, one-season history of the Israeli Baseball League.

Stoll also has a card for Bo Belinsky, a playboy left-handed pitcher who threw the Los Angeles Angels’ first no-hitter, but would go on to toss out his potential on women and booze.

“He ended up homeless, living on the streets,” Stoll tells Roth in the video. “He finally rehabilitated himself towards the end of his life, but cut his life short. His whole career went down the drain.”

Among the more curious entries in Stoll’s collection is a card that is, in fact, really a sticker. It belongs to the eminently obscure pitcher Steve Ratzer, who pitched one season with the Montreal Expos. Stoll found Ratzer’s “card” at a store in Caracas, coming from the pitcher’s time with the Venezuelan Winter League.

No Jewish baseball history lesson is complete without a parable of faith and guilt. As such, Stoll has a card of the secular player Norm Miller, whose decision to flout the labor prohibition on the High Holidays led to a series of career lowlights.

For those clamoring for the greats or are – for some reason – curious to see aged memorabilia of Abner Doubleday’s Jewish contemporaries, Stoll has us covered. Another two installments of the good doctor’s sit-down with Roth are on deck.

PJ Grisar is the Forward’s culture fellow. He can be reached at [email protected].

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