Category Archives: MLB

Dan Good’s ‘Playing Through the Pain’ Named CASEY Award Finalist

Playing Through the Pain: Ken Caminiti and the Steroids Confession That Changed Baseball Forever, the story of the three-time All-Star and 1996 National League MVP whose addictions and use of steroids derailed his career and life, has been named one of 10 finalists for the prestigious CASEY Award, which Spitball magazine annually honors as top baseball book. Written by seasoned book writer, ghostwriter, journalist, and editor Dan Good, “Playing Through the Pain” was published in May by Abrams Press to great acclaim in the baseball, sports and mental health communities.

Good began researching Caminiti in 2012 and conducted his first interviews for his biography in 2013. Since then he interviewed 400 people, providing him with an exclusive and exhaustive view into Caminiti’s life.

More than two decades later, the full truth about Major League Baseball’s steroids era remains elusive, and the story of Caminiti, the player who opened the lid on performance-enhancing drugs in baseball has never been properly told. A gritty third baseman known for his diving stops, cannon arm, and switch-hit power, Caminiti voluntarily admitted in a 2002 Sports Illustrated cover story that he used steroids during his career, including his 1996 MVP season, and guessed that half of the players were using performance-enhancing drugs. “I’ve made a ton of mistakes,” he said. “I don’t think using steroids is one of them.”

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the CASEY Award by Spitball, a literary baseball magazine founded in 1981 and dedicated to poetry, short fiction, prose, art, and book reviews; all devoted to baseball. Among the previous CASEY Award winners are notable authors and baseball historians such as Joe Posnanski, Marty Appel, Rob Neyer, Kostya Kennedy, Howard Bryant, Larry Tye, Leigh Montville, Phil Dixon, Bill James, Roger Kahn and others.

“It’s truly an honor to be considered among this amazing group of books and authors,” said Good, who has held leadership roles with the New York Daily News and New York Post and also worked for NBC News, ABC News, and local news outlets in New Jersey and his native Pennsylvania. “I’m pleased that the Spitball team has considered Caminiti’s story worthy of inclusion among the other compelling ones that this list represents.”

The 10 books listed as finalists for the award, to be announced in March 2023, are as follows:

• The Book of Joe: Trying Not to Suck at Baseball and Life by Joe Maddon and Tom Verducci, Twelve Books;
• Charlie Murphy: The Iconoclastic Showman Behind the Chicago Cubs by Jason Cannon, University of Nebraska Press;
• The Church of Baseball: The Making of Bull Durham: Home Runs, Bad Calls, Crazy Fights, Big Swings, and a Hit by Ron Shelton, Knopf;
• The Grandest Stage: A History of the World Series by Tyler Kepner, Doubleday;
• The Lineup: Ten Books that Changed Baseball by Paul Aron, McFarland;
• Playing through the Pain: Ken Caminiti and the Steroids Confession That Changed Baseball Forever by Dan Good, Abrams Press;
• Red Barber: The Life and Legacy of a Broadcasting Legend by Judith R. Hiltner and James R. Walker, University of Nebraska Press;
• Rickey: The Life and Legend of an American Original by Howard Bryant, Mariner;
• In Scoring Position: 40 Years of a Baseball Love Affair by Bob Ryan & Bill Chuck, Triumph Books; and
• True: The Four Seasons of Jackie Robinson by Kostya Kennedy, St. Martin’s Press

Strat-O-Matic, Negro Leagues Baseball Museum To Launch NFTs Honoring Greats, Partner With Fanaply

Few organizations have stronger ties to the rich history of baseball than Strat-O-Matic (@StratOMatic), the market leader in sports simulation, and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (@NLBMuseumKC). In their latest collaboration, the two venerable institutions today announced the planned February 2023 release of digital collectibles in the form of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) honoring several Hall of Fame Negro Leagues players, in partnership with Fanaply (@fanaply), the eco-conscious NFT solution provider for the world’s biggest names in sports, music, and entertainment.

Each NFT will feature a short audio commentary on each player’s legacy, contribution to baseball and their lasting impact. A photo montage of many never-before-seen images related to each player will accompany the voiceover. In addition, Fanaply is creating an exclusive, NFT-powered at-bat simulation using Strat-O-Matic’s proprietary statistical game engine. This will allow NFT owners to simulate at-bats of each player against figures from throughout baseball history. Players to be included in the initial set will be announced at a later date.

“The Negro Leagues had a profound impact on the advancement of American civil rights and culture.” said Adam Richman, Strat-O-Matic C.E.O. “These NFTs will preserve this legacy and celebrate these players, who need to have their stories and contributions to history preserved for future generations.”

With today’s announcement, Fanaply, Strat-O-Matic and the NLBM have issued a free NFT that represents a stylized NLBM logo and is now available to all fans at https://fanaply.com/moment/negroleaguesbaseballmuseumnft.

“Collecting and trading baseball cards has been part of the storied history of America’s pastime. We are thrilled to partner with Strat-O-Matic and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum to bring their dedicated fan bases an innovative and exciting new way to commemorate the trailblazers of the past,” said Danielle Maged, Fanaply’s Chief Commercial Officer.

Both the NLBM and the families of the depicted players will receive a portion of the profits from the offering, which may also include a collection of traditional limited edition printed cards.

“The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is proud to continue its amazing partnership with Strat-O-Matic, which has long been a supporter of the museum and Negro Leagues history,” said Bob Kendrick, NLBM President. “The NFT offerings are a creative new way to help fans and collectors celebrate the greatness of these legendary players while supporting our mission.”

Fans can look forward to exciting rewards and experiences tied to participation, including potential opportunities to collect exclusive player NFTs with varying tiers of rarity, various opponents to simulate at-bats against, physical collectibles, and more.

Philadelphia Takes Down Houston In Seven Games In Strat-O-Matic Series Simulation

Philadelphia’s storybook run through the baseball playoffs continues as the National League’s sixth seed claimed its first title since 2008, defeating Houston, 4 games to 3, including wins in Games 6 and 7 on the road, in the simulation conducted by Strat-O-Matic (@StratOMatic), the market leader in sports simulation.

In the decisive seventh game, won by Philadelphia, 5-3, the visitors erased a 1-0 deficit with five straight runs, capped by J.T. Realmuto’s seventh-inning, two-run home run for a 5-1 lead with nine outs to go. Houston rallied with two in the seventh but Zach Eflin closed the door with 2 1/3 scoreless, hitless frames in the win.

Kyle Schwarber blasted three home runs, drove in five runs and slashed .333/.484/.708 to win the simulated series MVP. Zack Wheeler won his two starts for Philadelphia, tossing 13 2/3 innings, allowing nine hits and one earned run in Games 3 and 6 triumphs. Justin Verlander won two games for Houston, allowing three runs and five hits over 14 2/3 frames in his two starts and one-inning Game 7 relief appearance.

A quick game-by-game summary follows:

Game 1: @Houston 8, Philadelphia 5; Verlander permits 3 runs and 4 hits over 6 2/3, Alex Bregman homers, drives in 3.
Game 2: Philadelphia 7, @Houston 2; Realmuto, Alec Bohm home runs back five-hit pitching of Wheeler, three relievers
Game 3: Houston 6, @Philadelphia 0; Cristian Javier and four relievers combine on a four-hit shutout, Jose Altuve homers twice
Game 4: @Philadelphia 7, Houston 2; Hosts bang out 11 hits, three by Nick Castellanos, and Schwarber knocks his second four-bagger
Game 5: Houston 5, @Philadelphia 1; Verlander permits just one hit over seven scoreless innings as Altuve and Jeremy Pena homer to send Houston home with a 3-2 series edge
Game 6: Philadelphia 3, @Houston 0; Zach Wheeler (7 2/3 IP) and Jose Alvarado team on a five-hit shutout to even the series. Bryce Harper’s first-inning three run homer accounts for all the scoring.
Game 7: Philadelphia 5, @Houston 3; Eflin’s superb relief outing closes the door as Realmuto homer, Bryson Stott RBI single prove the difference in the deciding contest

“As the leader in sports simulations, Strat-O-Matic is pleased to present its simulation of the upcoming series between Houston and Philadelphia,” said Hal Richman, Strat-O-Matic founder.“We hope that the games on the field turn out as exciting as our results, especially for Philadelphia fans.”

CSG Grades Iconic 1952 Topps #311 Mickey Mantle Card Valued at Over $2 Million

Certified Sports Guaranty® (CSG®) is thrilled to announce that it has just certified two examples of the iconic 1952 Topps #311 Mickey Mantle card, one of them valued at more than $2 million! Graded CSG 8, it is the most valuable card that CSG has certified since it launched in early 2021.

Fewer than 20 are graded higher out of about 2,000 in the world, including one that sold for $12.6 million in August 2022, setting a record for most expensive sports card at auction.

“It was an honor to authenticate and grade what is one of the most valuable cards in the hobby,” said Andy Broome, Vice President of CSG. “This resounding affirmation from the collecting world follows CSG’s monumental efforts to quickly become one of the market’s leading third-party authentication, grading and encapsulation services. We look forward to seeing more cards of this caliber.”

In addition to the Type 1 example graded CSG 8, CSG also certified a Type 2 example CSG 4.5. A card with that grade would be expected to sell for about $100,000 at auction.

On its certification label, CSG attributes the type of the Mickey Mantle #311 card. Minor differences, such as the direction of the seams on the baseball on the back of the card, distinguish the two types. To learn more about the differences, click here or watch the video below.

The Mantle card stands at the pinnacle of the sports collecting world for many reasons. In 1952, Mantle’s All-Star career had just begun, and the world of sports cards was being revolutionized by a newcomer known as Topps Chewing Gum, Inc. Topps’ ambitious 1952 set is widely considered to have set the framework for modern sports cards. Unfortunately, it did not sell well, resulting in an inglorious fate for high-numbered cards like the #311 Mickey Mantle. Legend has it that New York City-based Topps loaded unsold cases of these cards onto a barge and sent them to a watery grave.

Mantle played for the New York Yankees from 1951 to 1968, when they won seven World Series championships. He won the Triple Crown in 1956 (leading in batting average, home runs and RBIs) and the Gold Glove Award in 1962. Many consider the Hall of Famer to be the best switch hitter in history.

Increasingly, collectors are turning to CSG to certify some of the greatest sports cards in the hobby. CSG also holds the distinction of being the fastest third-party grading service to certify more than 1 million cards. Among the great cards that CSG has graded are:

· multiple high-grade examples of the 1986-87 Fleer #57 Michael Jordan rookie card
· a 1952 Topps #261 Willie Mays card graded CSG 8 worth well over $100,000
· a 2003-04 Topps Chrome Refractor #111 LeBron James graded CSG Gem Mint 10 that realized $98,100 in a March 2021 flash auction through PWCC
· a c.1922 Romeo and Julieta Cigars Jose Mendez graded CSG 2.5 that sold for $19,470 at a Hake’s sale in March 2022
· a 1977 Futbol #11 Diego Maradona graded CSG 4

Backed by the same senior management team behind the industry’s leading collectibles certification services (Numismatic Guaranty Company™, Paper Money Guaranty® and Certified Guaranty Company®), CSG has leveraged world-class expertise, advanced technology, innovation and operational excellence to quickly have the second-largest capacity of any third-party sports card grading service. Online tools such as Verify CSG Certification, the CSG Population Report and the CSG Registry give collectors and dealers free access to a large amount of helpful information that benefits the collecting community.

For the latest company updates and to see a variety of fantastic cards, follow CSG on social media and sign up for our monthly CSG Score eNewsletter.

Verdict In: Judge’s 62nd Largest Topps NOW Run Ever

Aaron Judge’s A.L. record setting home run display was not just a boon to the Yankees — and his impending free agency. It was also a big hit with collectors, as the Topps NOW card depicting his historic 62nd blast of the season enticed fans to purchase 91,685 of the base card, the most ever in the seven-year history of Topps NOW, which depicts the greatest moments and milestones from Major League Baseball almost as soon as they happen, with physical cards limited to the number ordered within 48 hours of issue.

And it wasn’t just the final bomb that appealed to fans as they bore witness to greatness: home runs #61 (29,523) and 60 (21,490) and two base cards shared with former league homer champs Roger Maris (19,741) and Babe Ruth (13,804) set the precedent, rounding out five of the top six sellers of the 2022 season. Albert Pujols’s 700th career shot (third most, 28,898) was the only other card to top 10,000 in sales.

In all, the five top Judge cards accounted for a total of 176,243 cards issued, more than half of all the base cards (330,699) produced through the regular season (112 individual cards).

Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani (qualifying as pitcher and hitter, 7th, 7331 cards; and reaching 200K strikeouts, 10th, 4381), the Mets’ Francisco Alvarez (debut, 8th, 6005) and Seattle’s Julio Rodriguez (sets rookie HR record, 9th, 5449) rounded out the top 10 for 2022.

Fans can continue to purchase Topps NOW cards throughout the MLB playoffs at https://www.topps.com/toppsnow.

2022 Top Ten

  1. Aaron Judge, 62nd home run, 91,685
  2. Aaron Judge, 61st home run,29,523
  3. Albert Pujols, 700th career home run, 28,898
  4. Aaron Judge, 60th home run, 21,490
  5. Aaron Judge and Roger Maris, 61 home runs, 19,741
  6. Aaron Judge and Babe Ruth, 60 home runs, 13,804
  7. Shohei Ohtani, qualifying as pitcher and hitter, 7331
  8. Francisco Alvarez, debut, 6005
  9. Julio Rodriguez, sets rookie HR recorded, 5449
  10. Shohei Ohtani, 200K strikeouts, 4381

Topps NOW Timmy Trumpet Card Celebrates Diaz Save

With the Mets holding onto a narrow 2-1 lead over the Dodgers on Wednesday night at CitiField, Timmy Trumpet took the field to welcome closer Edwin Diaz into the game. Trumpet played a live rendition of his song “Narco,” Diaz’s intro song all season.

Now through Friday at 2 p.m. ET, fans can get a Topps NOW card commemorating the occasion. The card, depicting Trumpet’s live performance, is available here. Only the number of cards ordered by Friday at 2 p.m. ET will be printed.

Art by DJ Skee, Gregory Siff Features All-Stars In New Limited Topps Set

DJ Skee and Gregory Siff, whose amazing artwork has graced numerous Topps baseball cards, take to the canvas again for the limited 2022 MLB All-Star Game set, available now through Thursday at 2 p.m. ET at https://www.topps.com/cards-collectibles/online-brands/2022-mlb-all-star-game.html.

The collection, limited to 2,500, includes rare and new foil parallels numbered to /499 and down, using eye-popping rainbow foil, cracked ice foil and lava foil technology.

Featuring four of MLB’s biggest stars seen through the eyes Skee and Siff, the Topps 2022 MLB All-Star Art Collection includes American League All-Stars Mike Trout and Aaron Judge and National League All-Stars Mookie Betts and Pete Alonso in the four player checklist of this limited edition release.

cover images: Aaron Judge by Gregory Siff, Mookie Betts by DJ Skee

RealResponse Enters Professional Baseball With Major League Baseball Agreement

RealResponse, (@RealResponseHQ), the award-winning safe and secure feedback, monitoring, and anonymous reporting platform for athletic teams and organizations, today announced its expansion into professional baseball, as Major League Baseball has begun to implement the RealResponse Anonymous Texting system for reports of player, staff, or employee misconduct.

RealResponse will provide an additional platform to help MLB track and proactively respond to misconduct issues, including the use of PED’s, sports betting, domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, and other potential violations of baseball’s conduct rules and policies for players, staff, and employees.

“With Major League Baseball’s implementation of our services, they expand the ability for individuals to report misconduct issues in medium that they may feel more comfortable in, while remaining safe and anonymous,” said David Chadwick, CEO and Founder of RealResponse. “It will really help augment the great work MLB has already been doing in this space and, most importantly, it can help not only identify but potentially prevent potential issues before they arise. We look forward to learning and assisting in any way we can to help MLB.”

MLB’s Department of Investigations will leverage RealResponse’s Anonymous Texting platform to receive and respond to messages with the Anonymous Texter, which will enable the individual to remain anonymous as long as they would like while they can continue to provide information and assist with investigations.

“The addition of RealResponse to our existing reporting channels will provide another option to encourage the reporting of misconduct, by ensuring that people have a variety of pathways to make a report, so they can use the method that they are most comfortable with,” said Moira Weinberg, MLB’s Senior Vice President, Investigations & Deputy General Counsel. “The platform is another safe and confidential option for people to speak up and helps us continue to take a proactive approach addressing potential misconduct issues.”

cover image: credit Pixabay

Congressman Peter King Named To Save The Game Advisory Board

Peter T. King, the former New York Congressman who represented the South Shore Long Island district for almost 30 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, has been named to the advisory board of Save the Game™ www.savethegameus.com, the grass roots effort designed to align with Major League Baseball to encourage youth participation in baseball and “Grow the Game.”  King will be joined on the advisory board by five additional charter members: youth sports authority, Rick Wolff, the host of the “Sports Edge” on WFAN Radio, a publisher, and former minor league player and college coach; Mike Port, the former Major League executive with the Red Sox, Angels and Padres, and former MLB director of umpires; Queens native and Suffolk Sports Hall of Famer Fred Cambria, a former big league pitcher and instructor; the longtime Chicago Cubs scout, Brooklyn native and NYS Baseball Hall of Famer Billy Blitzer; and girls softball coach and Trumbull Little League (CT.) executive board member Jeff Dobrydney, a senior vice president at JSG Commodities in Norwalk. King, the respected elected official and former Chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security,  is a New York native, and an ardent New York Mets fan since the team’s inception.  The announcement was made today by Save The Game™ founders – former college baseball standouts and New York natives Kevin Gallagher and Pat Geoghegan and former MLB infielder, nine-year veteran Jeff Frey. Baseball is part of the very fabric of our country, so anything I can do to enhance the game is important to me,” said King. “Save The Game™ is a significant grass roots effort to encourage young boys and girls to play, and move baseball back to the faster pace of a bygone era, which I greatly enjoyed throughout my youth.”

Milwaukee Tops Minnesota For Championship As Strat-O-Matic Simulates 2022 Baseball Season, Playoffs

As fans eagerly await the delayed start of the 2022 baseball season, Strat-O-Matic (@StratOMatic), the market leader in sports simulation, just can’t wait to deliver its preseason simulation on what was supposed to be Opening Day today across North America. Fans in Milwaukee and Minnesota will be particularly excited to learn that Strat-O-Matic sees the two squaring off in the championship, with Milwaukee taking a seven-game classic for its first title.

Los Angeles stars Mike Trout (45 home runs, .315/.424/.617) and Trea Turner (113 runs scored, .325/.386/.513) won the A.L. and N.L. MVP awards, respectively, while New York’s hurlers Gerrit Cole (15-9, 2.66 ERA, 245 strikeouts) and Jacob deGrom (17-4, 2.14 ERA, 269 Ks) were the A.L. and N.L. Cy Young winners. 

In addition to today’s look at the full 2022 season, Strat-O-Matic will conduct a daily “Strat-O-Matic Game of the Day” simulation featuring an interesting matchup, beginning with the rival Boston vs. New York contest on April 7. Fans can follow on the Strat-O-Matic website (https://www.strat-o-matic.com) as well as its social media outlets.

In 2021, Strat-O-Matic’s Opening Day simulation correctly tabbed Atlanta as the champion, with seven of the 10 playoff teams correct. Three of the playoff seeds were pegged exactly right, with St. Louis losing the Wild Card game, the home run leader clubbing 48, Julio Urias as the major league wins leader, and Atlanta beating Milwaukee in the NLDS on the way to the title.

In this year’s simulation, Milwaukee won the N.L. Central at 96-66, earning the No. 3 seed. Under the new playoff format, Milwaukee topped third wild card and No. 6 seed San Francisco, two games to none, then upended No. 2 New York, 3-1, and defending champion and No 5 Atlanta in seven games before the dramatic seven game win over Minnesota, the A.L. No. 1 seed that had swept second Wild Card Toronto in three games and No. 2 New York in four to get to the championship.

“Strat-O-Matic has a long tradition of getting our season simulation to fans on Opening Day, and we didn’t want to let the delay keep us from that,” said Hal Richman, Strat-O-Matic founder. “We are particularly excited about the added wrinkle of the ‘Strat-O-Matic Game of the Day to keep fans of every team engaged in the biggest matchups on the schedule.”

cover image: Corbin Burnes (Flickr/Ian D’Andrea)

No Baseball? Strat-O-Matic Has Fans Covered With Regular Season Simulation Beginning Opening Day

While there may be no baseball on the field this spring until owners and players settle their differences, fans don’t have to go without their favorite sport come Opening Day. Strat-O-Matic (@StratOMatic), the market leader in sports simulation, today announced it will provide daily simulations of scheduled games beginning on Thursday, March 31, which was to be the date of the first contests across the league. Those following @StratOMatic on Twitter will help determine the team assignments for notable remaining free agents during the week of March 21-25.

Strat-O-Matic, which performed a simulation of games during the COVID-19 shortened 2020 season, will publish the results daily on its Website at http://www.strat-o-matic.com as well as through its various social media channels. These simulations have proven to be extremely accurate, with Atlanta’s 2021 baseball championship predicted in the preseason simulation and Los Angeles’s football title nearly matching the exact score and closely approximating statistics for top stars Matt Stafford and Cooper Kupp as the most recent examples.

“We are hopeful that the season will get underway soon, but in the meantime, we have fans covered,” said Hal Richman, Strat-O-Matic founder. “Fans absolutely loved how we kept their baseball juices flowing with the simulation when play was suspended in 2020, and we hope that this keeps them ready for when the players are back on the field.”


Strat-O-Matic, which celebrated its 60th anniversary last year, had its own annual “Opening Day” in February, and although it again couldn’t be held in person, thousands of fans celebrated the arrival of the new cards based on the 2021 season statistics as well as various newly formulated sets depicting the 1986 and 1947 seasons, the latter just in time to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s debut.

Jeff Nelson, Mookie Wilson, Katie Ledecky, Margaret Purce to be Honored at 42nd Annual Thurman Munson Awards Dinner on Monday, March 7

The honorees for the 42nd Annual Thurman Munson Awards Dinner at Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers (23rd Street at West Side Highway) in New York City on Monday night, March 7, 2022 benefiting AHRC New York City Foundation, have been announced today. These are this year’s award recipients: World Series champions, pitcher Jeff Nelson (1996, ’98, ’99, 2000) of the New York Yankees and outfielder Mookie Wilson (1986) of the New York Mets, seven-time Olympic Gold Medalist in swimming Katie Ledecky, and soccer standout NY-NJ Gotham FC forward Margaret Purce.

Julia Yager Spillman-Gover, CEO of The Eklund|Gomes Team at Douglas Elliman Real Estate, will receive the M. Anthony Fisher Humanitarian Award. 

The gala remembers the late great Yankees captain and catcher Thurman Munson and has raised more than $18 million for the AHRC NYC Foundation which supports programs that enable children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities to lead richer, more productive lives. 

Joining in the celebration is a stellar lineup of sports dignitaries that includes baseball notables Bobby Valentine, John Flaherty and Nelson Figueroa, ever-popular Knicks guard John Starks, and a trio of New York Football Giants Super Bowl champs who are previous ‘Thurman” recipients: Hall of Famer Harry Carson, Chris Canty and Karl Nelson. 

Tina Cervasio, lead sports anchor for FOX 5 in New York, will be the Master of Ceremonies. New York Islanders co-owner and Katie Ledecky’s proud uncle, Jon Ledecky, will accept on her behalf. Katie Ledecky will also send a video message since she is unable to attend due to the date change from the originally-scheduled February 1

The Thurman Munson Awards are presented annually for success and inspiration on the fields of play, and community spirit off the field. Thurman’s widow Diana Munson is an honorary chair who has supported AHRC NYC and its fund-raising efforts through the Thurman Munson Awards for four decades. 

Robinson Memorabilia Headlines Heritage Auctions Black History Month Collection

The tale of Jackie Robinson’s first meeting with Brooklyn Dodgers President Branch Rickey, on Aug. 28, 1945, has been recounted and reshaped so many times it long ago slipped from memory to mythology. Each retelling, in print and on film, is a little different; each detail, slightly tweaked. Yet there is no changing the outcome: Robinson’s ascension from Negro Leaguer to the first Black ballplayer in the minors and majors.

There is little dispute, too, that Robinson asked Rickey if he wanted a man who was afraid to fight back against fans, opponents, umpires, newspapermen and even teammates who would deny him and degrade him. There is no arguing, either, that Rickey told his recruit he wanted a man with guts enough not to.

“It is testament to Rickey’s sophistication and foresight that he chose a ballplayer who would become a symbol of strength rather than assimilation,” Jonathan Eig wrote in 2008’s bestseller Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinson’s First Season. “It is testament to Robinson’s intelligence and ambition that he recognized the importance of turning the other cheek and yet found a way to do it without appearing the least bit weak.”

So the story goes, told in each man’s autobiographies and interpreted by others forever after: Branch Rickey asked Jack Roosevelt Robinson if he could turn the other cheek, for as long as it took. “Mr. Rickey,” Jackie said, “I’ve got to do it.”

Here, in black and white, is how certain Robinson was: At the end of March 1946, one month before his debut as one of the Dodgers’ minor-league Montreal Royals, Jackie filled out a standard questionnaire provided by the American Baseball Bureau. Robinson was asked about his “ambition in baseball.” In the space provided, he wrote: “To open door for Negroes in Organized Ball.”

That questionnaire, which also notes Robinson’s year with the Kansas City Monarchs and credits Rickey as the person to whom he owes “the most” in his baseball career, has been oft-cited in Robinson lore. It appears in Eig’s book and others, and was mentioned repeatedly as a highlight of the legendary Barry Halper Collection auction in 1999 — the first and last time the document was publicly available.

Almost a quarter century later, Robinson’s 1946 questionnaire returns as one of the centerpieces in Heritage Auctions’ Feb. 26-27 Winter Platinum Night Sports Auction. The framed document, which bears a sticker from its 1999 Sotheby’s sale, has been authenticated in recent years by Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) and Beckett Authentication Services.

The document is one piece of an extraordinary assemblage of nearly 50 historic Robinson- and Brooklyn Dodgers-related items being offered in the February event. They all come from a single collector, a New York native who spent years amassing these historic moments, beginning at the Halper sale.

“Jackie Robinson has always been a foundational figure in our field, but I think the appreciation for him and his associated memorabilia has grown exponentially over the last five to 10 years,” says Heritage Sports Vice President Dan Imler. “People have really woken up to his historical impact, and the interest in his elite material has accelerated at a greater rate than for any other figure. The timing of these items coming to auction only adds to the excitement, because there’s such a feverish demand for critically important Jackie Robinson items right now.”

And that questionnaire is at the top of that list, as it serves in some ways as “his manifesto,” as Imler calls it.

“It’s the only item where he’s making a declaration, in his own hand, of his desire to break the color barrier in baseball,” he says. “We’ve seen other questionnaires like this, because from the 1930s through the ’70s it was a standard document with all players entering the major leagues, but most often what you see is very general content. When players are talking about goals and aspirations, it’s usually related to an achievement within the sport: to win a championship, to set a record — something along those lines.

“Jackie’s questionnaire, on the other hand, clearly shows a much bigger objective.”

The auction features all one would want from a Robinson and Dodgers event: a signed baseball from Robinson, Gil Hodges’ signed 1951 contract, beautiful-condition cards, including this 1948 Leaf Robinson rookie card graded PSA NM-MT 8. Here, as well, is something of a companion piece to the questionnaire: a 1946 Heilbroner Baseball Bureau Information card filled out and signed by Robinson before his debut as a Royal.

This auction likewise features something seldom seen at auction: a ticket stub from Ebbets Field dated April 15, 1947 — the day Robinson made his big-league debut against the Boston Braves, just five days after signing his Dodgers contract. He went hitless that day in front of 26,623 fans, but scored the go-ahead run after reaching base on an error. But no mere box score can hold the weight of that April afternoon in Brooklyn.

“There are defining moments in the life of a nation when a single individual can shape events for generations to come,” President Bill Clinton once said of Robinson’s big-league bow. “For America, the spring of 1947 was such a moment, and Jackie Robinson was the man who made the difference.”

There exist but a handful of these stubs, says PSA, and only two graded “good.” But it almost doesn’t matter the condition of the ticket stub, as this is a significant moment plucked from history that has survived 75 years.

“The bearer of that ticket saw something extraordinary: Jackie Robinson’s professional debut, one of the most important moments in the history of sports — arguably the most important,” Imler says. “That ticket stub, which is so scarce, really puts you in the moment.”

Incidentally, this auction also features another astonishingly rare ticket stub from Ebbets Field — this one dated April 9, 1913, which marked the first opening day at the ballpark, then home of the Brooklyn Superbas. Though not from the same consignor’s collection, this is the sole known surviving stub from that historic day, a true one-of-one.

O’Neil, Mackey, Foster Among Negro League Stars Featured In Strat-O-Matic, NLBM NFT Partnership

Strat-O-Matic, the market leader in sports simulation, and the Negro League Baseball Museum, the world’s only museum dedicated to preserving and celebrating the rich history of African-American baseball and its impact on the social advancement of America, today announced a partnership to distribute NFTs (non-fungible tokens) featuring all-time baseball greats from the Negro Leagues. The program includes partnerships with the estates of superstars like new Hall of Famer Buck O’Neil, Biz Mackey, Bill Foster, Rube Foster, Leon Day and Pete Hill in the first set of digital collectibles.

The NFT offerings will include images or media owned by the NLBM or estates as well as a voiceover discussing the player’s career and legacy and their unique Strat-O-Matic game card, playable via Strat-O-Matic’s proprietary game technology.

The NLBM will receive 25% of profits from the offering, making it one of the first philanthropic digital collectibles available.

“The Negro Leagues had a profound impact on the advancement of American civil rights and culture.” said Adam Richman, Strat-O-Matic C.E.O. “These NFTs will preserve this legacy and celebrate these players, who need to have their stories and contributions to history preserved for future generations.”

“The Negro League Baseball Museum is proud to continue its amazing partnership with Strat-O-Matic, which has long been a supporter of the museum and Negro Leagues history,” said Bob Kendrick, NLBM President. “The NFT offerings are a creative new way to help fans and collectors celebrate the greatness of these legendary players while supporting our mission.”

cover image: credit kc congdon

Costacos Collection Announces Inaugural NFT Drop with Baseball Legend Willie Mays

Today, the Costacos Collection announced its inaugural drop will feature one of the most respected legends in professional sports, Baseball Hall of Famer Willie Mays. The 90th Birthday Celebration Drop will take place this Sunday, October 24, as an ode to Willie’s iconic number and two days before the start of the 117th World Series. For the fifth year, the MVP of the Fall Classic will be recognized as the “Willie Mays World Series Most Valuable Player.”

Willie will be donating all proceeds from the drop to his Say Hey Foundation’s effort to honor the people who gave him a start in life, by establishing a baseball academy for underprivileged youth where he grew up in Alabama, and to restore the historic baseball facilities at Rickwood Field where Willie started his career with the Negro League Birmingham Black Barons. Mays said, “I’ve never forgotten the people who supported me, taught me, and helped me find my way. I want every child to have the same chances that I had, and this gives me a way to do that starting in my original hometown. Rickwood was the first place I ever got to see professional ballplayers, and I want these kids to learn the game and be inspired the way I was.” Rickwood Field itself serves as a central theme of the drop’s art.

The first drop tells the story of Willie’s path to the majors, from Fairfield Industrial High in Birmingham, to the Negro American League, culminating with his move to the New York Giants with whom he would win the Rookie of the Year Award in 1951. The various edition pieces capture the key themes and statistics of those periods, and the 1/1 hero piece adds to the story with a number of never-before-seen personal documents and images from Willie’s journey – most notably, a copy of Willie’s high school diploma, in which he was assigned a career in “cleaning, dyeing, and pressing.” Willie recalls that all Black kids were assigned trade careers, while white kids “on the other side of the barbed-wire fence” were able to choose their paths and professions. Willie’s journey to becoming one of America’s most beloved sports figures and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom was only possible because of baseball and the people of Fairfield and beyond who helped him chart a different path. The NFT art piece includes a voiceover in which Willie’s powerful story is told by an iconic voice of sports, Bob Costas, who will join Mays in donating to the baseball academy and Rickwood Field restoration project.

Costacos explained, “In the mid-1960s, I learned to read a box score by stealing my dad’s paper to see what magic Willie Mays had done the night before. Yet with all the historic moments in his career, Willie, the humblest GOAT you’ll ever meet, asked us to focus not on his 24 All Star Games, 2 MVP awards, World Series victory in ‘54, his 12 Gold Gloves or 660 home runs – rather, he saw this as a unique opportunity to pay tribute to his roots and earliest days growing up in Fairfield, Alabama. We’re honored to partner with the great Willie Mays and to give fans an opportunity to connect with the legend through one-of-a-kind digital art in support of the Say Hey Foundation.”

La Vida Baseball, NBC Sports Chicago Form Partnership To Expand Reach of ‘Being Guillén’

TeamWorks Media, the parent company of La Vida Baseball, today announced a new strategic content partnership with NBC Sports Chicago with ‘Being Guillén,’ La Vida Baseball’s most popular show moving to the NBC Sports Chicago lineup this month. The show will continue airing on the cable home of the White Sox through the end of 2021.

“We are very pleased with the growing popularity around ‘Being Guillén’ and this new content sharing partnership with NBC Sports Chicago helps us expand the reach of all things Ozzie and family at such a critical time of year for the White Sox and baseball in Chicago,” said Jesse Menendez, Managing Director of La Vida Baseball. “We are sure Ozzie’s stories and opinions that he and his sons bring in will make for great buzz and interesting conversation as the MLB Postseason heats up in the coming weeks.”

Guillén, the self-proclaimed “most popular person in Chicago,” with two of his sons, Ozzie Jr. and Oney focus on today’s sports happenings, as well as revisiting Ozzie’s colorful past on and off the field, especially as a member and then manager of the White Sox. From his days playing pickup basketball against Michael Jordan to his time with the 2005 White Sox World Series Championship team, ‘Being Guillén,’ will now have an expanded audience with the reach of NBC Sports Chicago.

The partnership with NBC Sports Chicago is the latest in a series of content expansion moves La Vida Baseball has introduced in the past few months. Others include ‘Locker Room Talk’, a weekly show highlighting the achievements of women and Latinas in sports hosted by Julie Alexandria and Jennifer Mercedes, ‘Pólvora, Voz & Diamante’, a high-energy Spanish language show hosted by Jesse Castillo, a two-time Mexican League MVP, Polo Ascencio, the Cardinals Spanish language broadcaster, and Mexican rock star Pliego Villarreal, as well as a Latino Heritage Month show on Chicago Cubs Marquee Sports Network.

Ruth, McCovey, DiMaggio/Monroe Pieces Highlight HA Summer Auction

$20 million worth of sports history will be up for grabs when Dallas-based Heritage Auctions conducts its star-studded Summer Platinum Auction which is underway and continues through August 21-22. The event features a treasure-trove of sports memorabilia including a vintage Babe Ruth rookie trading card worth more than $1 million, the finest known baseball signed by Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe, Magic Johnson’s title-clinching jersey from his rookie season with the Lakers, another $1 million artifact, and the collection of San Francisco Giants beloved icon Willie McCovey.

Chris Ivy, founder and president of Heritage Sports, recently showcased the pieces at the 41st National Sports Collectibles Convention in Chicago.

For the first time, all of the trophies, rings and plaques accrued by Baseball Hall of Famer Willie McCovey will be made available to fans and collectors during the August auction. The Willie McCovey Collection – which features some 210 lots, among them some of the most coveted hardware in baseball history – is a centerpiece of the event. Among the artifacts of the first baseman known as “Stretch” are a 2012 San Francisco Giants World Series Championship ring and a his first-baseman’s glove that he used in games from 1975 through 1980. The expansive, extraordinary collection includes a myriad of personal effects from throughout the Baseball Hall of Famer’s career.

The 1916 M101-4 Sporting News Babe Ruth Rookie card, graded PSA EX-MT 6, which shot up to $370,000 within hours of opening. No surprise there: Just last weekend Heritage sold one of the highest-graded 1933 Goudey Ruths for a record-setting $540,000 in the auction house’s Summer Sports Card Catalog sale, more than five times than what a similar card realized just 10 months ago.

The Johnson jersey is one of the finest NBA jerseys ever to head to auction, and is photo-matched to that championship game, when Magic, en route to the first of his three Finals MVP awards, took center stage – playing every position that night, including center in the absence of an injured Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Johnson wore the jersey again during the 1984 Finals loss to the Boston Celtics.

This is a monster piece. Twenty-four hours after bidding opened, it was already up to $330,000. With more than three weeks to go before the auction.
The bevy of museum-quality pieces on the block range from a 1920 Ruth game-used and signed bat (already up to $280,000 in early bidding) to the 1955 New York Yankees American League Championship Ring presented to Mickey Mantle to items owned and worn by Muhammad Ali never before displayed to the public.

The finest-known baseball signed by Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio, has already grabbed the attention of the international media.

La Vida Baseball Launches New All-Female and Latina Multimedia Show ‘Locker Room Talk’ Wednesday

TeamWorks Media, the parent company of La Vida Baseball, today announced the launch of its new weekly show highlighting the achievements of women and Latinas in sports, “Locker Room Talk.” Hosted by Julie Alexandria and Jennifer Mercedes, two Latinas with more than 20 years of sports industry reporting experience, “Locker Room Talk” is a show celebrating women in all aspects of the sports world by recognizing their contributions and the barriers they have overcome in their journeys. The show debuts Wednesday August 4 with new episodes rolling out weekly on YouTube and Facebook along with additional content across all La Vida Baseball social channels. The promo for the show can be seen here https://vimeo.com/572384643

“Women have always been at the forefront of challenging cultural norms. This show was created as a platform for the incredible community of trailblazers who continue to redefine our industry,” said Jesse Menendez, Managing Director of La Vida Baseball.  “Julie Alexandria and Jennifer Mercedes are leading important conversations with industry leaders. With Locker Room Talk, Julie and Jennifer have created a space where women can share their stories, experiences and of course their triumphs. Everyone needs to watch this show.”

“Locker Room Talk is my way of giving back and creating space for the next generation of women who are looking to enter the world of sports broadcasting and business,” said co-host Julie Alexandria.

Co-host Jennifer Mercedes added, “Forget about getting your foot in the door, with Locker Room Talk we’ve created our own door. Our goal is that it’s big enough to let in as many women as possible.”

Guests currently lined up for “Locker Room Talk” include NY Yankees hitting coach Rachel Balkovec, NFL Network’s MJ Acosta-Ruiz, Chief Business Officer at A-Rod Corp. Kelly Laferriere , MLB agent Lonnie Murray, diplomat and non-profit We Are All Human CEO Claudia Romo Edelman, MLB writer Shakeia Taylor, Turner Sports’ Lisa Byington (first woman to call NCAA men’s March Madness game), MLB Network’s Melanie Newman, ESPN’s Sarah Spain, Drone Racing League president Rachel Jacobson and Arizona Diamondbacks’ Mariana Patraca.

In addition to “Locker Room Talk,” LaVida Baseball has a wide range of social media streaming series, highlighted by “Being Guillén”, a hilarious weekly show and podcast, hosted by former World Series Champion manager, Ozzie Guillén and two of his sons, Ozzie Guillén Jr. and Oney Guillén; and “Polvora, Voz & Diamante”, a high energy Spanish language show hosted by a Mexican League MVP, the Cardinals Spanish language broadcaster and a Mexican rock star. Earlier this year La Vida Baseball launched “The Year of 21,” a multi-platform content initiative created to inform, engage and educate fans worldwide about the life, the impact and the legacy of Roberto Clemente.

Gehrig Speech NFT Helps Relaunch NY Sports Hall

The New York Sports Hall of Fame relaunched today with a slate of digital firsts, including bidding on a non-fungible token (NFT) of the speech regarded as the most famous in sports history.

The historic 1-of-1 NFT of uncut extant film of the iconic 1939 “Luckiest Man” address by New York Yankees captain Lou Gehrig is open for bidding at opensea.io/collection/gehrig. The film is the longest single-source recording of the speech and the first known Gehrig speech NFT. 

Delivered at Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day at Yankee Stadium, the speech is part of a New York Sports Hall of Fame collection that includes filmed remarks at the same ceremony by baseball legend Babe Ruth and Yankees manager Joe McCarthy. The three men were inducted into the Hall between 1989 and 1991. 

After a long hiatus, the New York Sports Hall of Fame relaunched today in digital form at newyorksportshall.com and on the prominent NFT marketplace OpenSea at opensea.io/nys.  Later this year, the Hall plans to release digital commemoratives of more of its 310 inductees to date and to open balloting for its next member class.

The New York Sports Hall of Fame’s extensive collection of original Greater New York historical content is preserved from more than 150 years of various sports developments, from Major League Baseball to six-day bicycle racing. The Hall archives illustrate how the history of Greater New York sports has helped shape culture and society in the region and beyond.

Gehrig was voted into the New York Sports Hall of Fame twice, in 1989 for professional baseball and two years later for college baseball. The former Columbia University star and record-setting Yankees first baseman was born, raised and educated in New York City.

Well known for its line, “the luckiest man on the face of the earth,” Gehrig’s speech was delivered on July 4, 1939. At the time, Gehrig was dying of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS, the rare and incurable disease that became known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. 

The Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day NFT collection on OpenSea accepts the popular cryptocurrency Ethereum, which can be purchased on the exchange Coinbase and used on OpenSea with the digital wallet MetaMask.

Launched 32 years ago, the New York Sports Hall of Fame is owned and operated by the streaming service New York Sports Experience (newyorkse.com).

“From its start, the New York Sports Hall of Fame has been dedicated to the preservation and commemoration of the rich history of Greater New York sports,” said Jordan Sprechman, New York Sports Experience’s founder and an original New York Sports Hall of Fame officer. “Today’s digital expansion reflects that mission.”

Gehrig Career Simulations and ‘What If’ Highlight Strat-O-Matic Celebration Of Lou Gehrig Day

Strat-O-Matic, the market leader in sports simulation, today released the results of three simulations tied to baseball’s observation of “Lou Gehrig Day” as part of its celebration of the endeavor across the sport. Full details of each simulation are posted at http://www.strat-o-matic.com.

The first is a “Home Run Derby” featuring two pairs of famed Yankee sluggers during their most prolific seasons. Gehrig took on his 1927 teammate Babe Ruth and 1961 “M&M Boys” Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris in a 10 at-bat format. Gehrig hit just one home run in his first four at bats to two by each of the other competitors, but slammed five in his last six times up to win with six bombs to four each by Ruth, Maris and Mantle.

Second is an imagined contest in which all the competitors wore #4 in their careers. In the simulation, which pitted the N.L. vs. the A.L. Gehrig went 0-for-4 against Blake Snell and 1950s journeyman Hal Jeffcoat, but his Junior Circuit squad took a 3-0 verdict behind two home runs by Hall of Famer Goose Goslin and eight innings of four-hit pitching by 1960s lefty George Brunet.

In the final simulation, Strat-O-Matic reimagined Gehrig’s career had he not been stricken with ALS, beginning with the 1938 season, during which his numbers were likely reduced in the early stages of the disease. In the replay, Gehrig plays through 1942, his age 39 season, amassing a total of 676 doubles (which would have placed him third at the time of his retirement, instead of 11th), 610 home runs (second, rather than third) and 2488 RBI (first, instead of third).

In addition to conducting the simulations, Strat-O-Matic will donate 10% of net sales today (June 2) to The ALS Association Greater New York Chapter, home region to Gehrig and the game company celebrating its 60th year. June 2 was both the day that Gehrig began his consecutive games played streak in 1925 (first game started), and the date of his death in 1941. In addition to increasing awareness of the disease and fundraising to fight it, Lou Gehrig Day also serves to celebrate those working to end ALS.