Berkon: A Jewish player’s 1914 baseball card triggers $125,000 dispute

From Ben Berkon at the New York Times on December 18, 2016, with mention of SABR member John Thorn:

More than a hundred years after Guy Zinn last appeared in a major-league game, his baseball card is causing a commotion.

The fuss has nothing to do with Zinn’s skill. His playing career yielded some distinctions — including his being one of 11 players to steal home twice in a game and appearing as the first batter in Fenway Park. But most of his statistics over five major-league seasons, including a .269 career batting average, suggest that he was a very ordinary athlete.

The trait that set Zinn apart, and made his baseball card unusually valuable, was his ethnicity. Zinn was Jewish, which all but guaranteed him a following for generations. A fan subculture has long coalesced around Jewish ballplayers, so much so that their cards have a special category on eBay.

Jeff Aeder, a Chicago real estate developer, is one of the most prominent figures in that subculture, and a 1914 Zinn card owned by a Maryland man has become, as other collectors describe it, Aeder’s holy grail. It is believed to be the only card of its type still in existence.

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Originally published: December 19, 2016. Last Updated: December 19, 2016.