Yogi Berra Museum to Host “What’s It Worth” Sports Memorabilia Appraisal Day on December 12

Cobb-Cabinet-CardCollectors of vintage sports memorabilia can learn more about their value at “What’s It Worth?,” a special appraisal day at the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center in Little Falls, N.J., on Saturday, December 12 from noon to 4 p.m.

John Brigandi of Brigandi Coins & Collectibles in New York City, one of the nation’s preeminent memorabilia dealers, will appraise items and collectibles from visitors (with a limit of three items per person). The free appraisal is offered to all ticketed Museum guests ($6 per adult, $4 per student).

Brigandi Coins & Collectibles is a family owned and operated dealer of rare coins and collectibles since 1959, and widely recognized for its industry-leading knowledge, integrity and trust. John Brigandi has been featured as an expert in numerous media outlets and national broadcasts, including ESPN, Forbes, History Channel, YES Network, PBS, National Geographic and more.

“As a family business of 55 years, in its third generation, we are always interested in finding the right opportunities to help collectors and preserve the industry through fair appraisals,” said John Brigandi. “We’re excited to see the one-of-a-kind collectibles that come through the Museum doors on December 12, along with the personal stories behind them.”

For anyone wondering whether the “junk” gathering dust in the attic or sitting at the neighborhood garage sale is valuable, Brigandi and his team will help educate visitors and inform them “what it’s worth.”

MLB Hedges Bets Against Illegal Gambling With New Partnership

peteroseThe Black Sox, Pete Rose, even recently the Yomiuri Giants, all involved in the dark side of baseball and gambling. With Daily Fantasy continuing to be a controversial topic, and the specter of legal sports gambling and its millions of dollars in revenue coming more into focus, how can fans, and the game be assured that all goings-on, legal or illegal, DFS or not, is on the up and up so scandals are avoided?

MLB appears to have taken a big step in that assuredness on Wednesday, announcing a partnership with London-based integrity monitoring company SportIM, to monitor all global activity that could potentially be tied to any illegal goings on. works with the EPL, Euroleague Basketball and the Football Association, among others, tracking millions of live and pre-match odds and betting activity around the world.

“This partnership will be an essential part of our initiatives to protect the game’s integrity,” said MLB Chief Legal Officer Dan Halem said in a release this morning.

“We are proud to be able to begin the expansion of our business in North America and look forward to a long relationship with MLB. It is reassuring to know that forward thinking organisations such as MLB are actively taking steps on how to best safeguard their competitions and implement effective measures in this environment to prevent any issues,” added Mark Locke, CEO at SportIM.

According to officials, there is about $720 million wagered a year legally in Nevada on baseball, trailing only the NFL and the NCAA. The amount of illegal wagering is thought to be 10 to 20 times that in the United States alone. While it does not appear right now that there is any illegal activity tied to MLB that prompted this step, the growing interest in legal gambling as well as the constant pressure to keep up with technology makes this a smart move for MLB in avoiding the issues of the past, be they decades ago or just last month in Japan.

See Ya! Charity Roast of Michael Kay Tuesday At Yogi Berra Museum

Michael Kay (Image: Chris Ptacek)

Michael Kay (Image: Chris Ptacek)

Michael Kay, the longtime Yankee play-by-play announcer and ESPN Radio host, will be roasted at the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center in Little Falls, N.J., on Nov. 17, with proceeds to benefit the Museum’s education programs.

The charity dinner and roast will feature a number of Kay’s colleagues, including fellow YES Network broadcasters David Cone, Ken Singleton, John Flaherty, Jack Curry and Bob Lorenz along with Kay Murcer, widow of former Yankee star and broadcaster Bobby Murcer.

Don La Greca, Kay’s co-host of The Michael Kay Show on ESPN Radio, will serve as emcee.

Seating is limited, tickets are $500. To RSVP, call (973) 655-2378.

Mets Wagner, Hampton, Castillo Among Newcomers On Baseball Hall Ballot

BillyWagnerThree players with strong Mets ties are among the newcomers on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America 2016 Hall of Fame ballot as announced today.

Billy Wagner, whose 422 career saves rank second among left-handers, and fellow lefty Mike Hampton, the 2000 NLCS MVP, are on the ballot for the first time along with second baseman Luis Castillo, a Met from 2007-2010.

They join others with solid New York connections returning to the ballot, including Roger Clemens, Mike Mussina, Mike Piazza and Tim Raines.

Piazza (69.9%) and Raines (55.0%) were two of three candidates to receive more than 50% of last year’s voting but not get elected (Jeff Bagwell, 55.7%). Four players were inducted last year, including pitchers Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz and catcher-infielder-outfielder Craig Biggio.

Ten Years Apart In Pinstripes, Two Ex Yankees Keep Inspiring

Jim-AbbottThey played in the Bronx, 10 years a part, and are now reunited through a common bond in a new special card set released by Topps this week. Jim Abbott, born without a right hand but never slowing down his passion for baseball, and Curtis Pride, once drafted by the Mets despite being deaf since birth and spending 14 years in the Majors are two of those featured in “Pride & Perseverance,” a celebration of MLB players past and present who have overcome great physical challenges to rise to the top of the game.

The set, originally proposed by the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society (PBATS), has everyone from Pete Gray, who played for the St. Louis Browns with one leg, to current Cubs Anthony Rizzo and John Lester, both who have beaten cancer.

“People with disabilities are often looked at for what they can’t do instead of being appreciated for what they can do. We hope these cards will help people take a closer look at the potential of people with disabilities,” said Mark O’Neal, PBATS President and Chicago Cubs Director of Medical Administration in a release. “Imagine if a child or the parent of a child with a disability, by simply opening a pack of baseball cards, discovers that one of their heroes was legally blind or deaf or has battled cancer? They would truly feel empowered and encouraged.”

Abbott began his MLB journey in 1989 after a standout career for the University of Michigan, eventually making it to The Bronx in 1993, and made history by no-hitting the Cleveland Indians at Yankee Stadium on September 3. He went on to pitch for the White Sox and the Brewers as well, but was never better than when he took the mound for the Yankees. Pride, taken by the Mets out of William and Mary, had his best years with the Washington Nationals, but also donned the Pinstripes, appearing in four games in 2003. He is currently the head baseball coach at Gallaudet University in Washington.

“As a game for all, Baseball is proud to be the sport of Jim Abbott, Curtis Pride and many world-class athletes who have overcome obstacles en route to success in the Major Leagues,” said Wendy Lewis, MLB Senior Vice President of Diversity, Inclusion & Strategic Alliances. “This special set from Topps is a terrific way not only to honor all individuals who have faced challenges and reached the highest level of their chosen sport, but also to inspire anyone who dreams of one day being a part of the National Pastime. We commend Topps, a longtime valued partner, for this extraordinary tribute to players who have made an enduring impact on our game.”

2015 Topps Baseball Update Series can be found in hobby shops and national mass retailers such as Walmart and Target, beginning this week.

You May Know the Story of the Brooklyn Dodgers, But You Don’t Know the Whole Story… Until Now

Our Bums book coverCoinciding with the 60th anniversary of the Brooklyn Dodgers’ only World Series title, author David Krell’s “Our Bums: The Brooklyn Dodgers in History, Memory and Popular Culture” (October 1, 2015; $29.95) brings to life the lesser-known stories of the team’s 125-year history.

With the Foreword written by Branch Rickey III, grandson of the legendary Dodgers executive, “Our Bums” dispels myths, reveals truths, and explains legends comprising Dodgers lore, including the reasons that triggered the team’s departure to Los Angeles.

Krell says: “There is something magical about a team that can reduce a 75-year-old man to tears in an interview. One fan told me, ‘Talking to you makes me feel like I’m 10 years old again.’”

“Our Bums” is bookended by an emotionally charged Prologue and Epilogue that will even make Yankees fans reach for tissues. “I begin with a story about my dad going to the World Series in 1953 and seeing Mickey Mantle hit a grand slam against the Dodgers. The Epilogue brings it full circle with us going to see a game in the 1978 World Series, when the L.A. Dodgers played the Yankees,” explains Krell.

For baseball fans, “Our Bums” adds value by filling in gaps of Dodgers scholarship, including the team’s origins, Charles Ebbets’s sacrifice to build a new ballpark that eventually became a baseball icon, and the reporting in the black press about Jackie Robinson. Krell also examines the Dodgers’ unsung contribution to baseball popular culture, including numerous novels, plays, films, art, and songs dating back to the 1930s. Additionally, “Our Bums” has a chapter dedicated to oral history compiled through dozens of interviews, including Duke Snider’s daughter and Dodgers legend Carl Erskine. “Fans still bleed Dodger Blue,” says Krell.

The Dodgers left for Los Angeles after the 1957 season.  You can take the Dodgers out of Brooklyn. But “Our Bums” proves that you’ll never take Brooklyn out of the Dodgers.

New York Times Columnists Reflect On Yogi Berra In Oct. 19 Panel At Yogi Berra Museum

Yogi_Berra_1956A trio of preeminent New York Times sports columnists – Dave Anderson, George Vecsey and Harvey Araton – will reflect on the extraordinary life and career of Yogi Berra in a panel discussion at the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center on Monday, Oct. 19 at 7 p.m.

Copies of a New York Times commemorative book, “Yogi,” featuring rare photographs and stories edited by Anderson – will also be available for purchase.

Anderson, a Pulitzer Prize winner who covered Berra as a young reporter in the 1950s, will be joined by Vecsey, who began at the Times in the late 1960s and has written six national best-selling books, and Araton, a Montclair neighbor of Berra who also wrote the acclaimed 2012 book “Driving Mr. Yogi,” about his unique friendship with Ron Guidry.

Tickets for the event, which includes discussion and a copy of “Yogi,” are $25. For discussion only, $10. To RSVP: (973) 655-2378.

Topps Reveals First-Ever “Final Five” Fan Vote For 2016 Number One Card

Topps-HarperAfter thousands of online votes, the “Final Five” athletes have been chosen for a chance to be featured on Card No. 1 in 2016 Topps® Baseball Series One, joining a line of players that has included Hank Aaron, Ted Williams and Derek Jeter. It is the first time ever fans have participated in selecting the No. 1 card for the set.

Fans voted over the course of 10 days to whittle a list down to five athletes. Now, a new fan vote for the next week will pick just one of them. Voting for the final round will take place on Topps.com, and will end on October 12, 2015 at 11:59 p.m. ET.

The finalists are:

· Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs, 3B
· Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays, 3B
· Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals, OF
· Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants, C
· Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, OF

Baseball fans are encouraged to vote and promote the contest on social media to help get their favorite player featured on Card. No. 1, and using the hashtag #VoteCardNo1

Visit the Topps blog at Topps.com, and vote here.

‘Doc’ Adams, Bill Dahlen Among 2016 Pre-Integration Committee Candidates

Doc AdamsSix former big league players, three executives and one of the game’s earliest organizers comprise the 10-name Pre-Integration Era ballot to be reviewed and voted upon Dec. 7 at the Baseball Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn.

Those with close New York ties are “Doc” Adams (Knickerbocker Base Ball Club) and Bill Dahlen (Brooklyn Superbas).

Adams, and Dahlen, along with Sam Breadon, Wes Ferrell, Garry Herrmann, Marty Marion, Frank McCormick, Harry Stovey, Chris von der Ahe and Bucky Walters are the candidates for Pre-Integration Era Committee consideration for Hall of Fame election for the Class of 2016. Dahlen, Ferrell, Marion, McCormick, Stovey and Walters are included for their contributions as players, while the other four are inclusions for their off-field careers. All candidates are deceased.

Any candidate to receive votes on 75 percent of the ballots cast by the 16-member Pre-Integration Era Committee will earn election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and will be inducted in Cooperstown on July 24, 2016, along with any electees who emerge from the 2016 Baseball Writers’ Association of America election, to be announced on Jan. 6, 2016.

The 10 Pre-Integration Era finalists were selected by the BBWAA-appointed Historical Overview Committee from all eligible candidates among Managers, Umpires, Executives and Long-Retired Players whose most significant career impact was realized during the time period from baseball’s origins through 1946. Eligible candidates include: Players who played in at least 10 major league seasons, who are not on Major League Baseball’s ineligible list, and have been retired for 21 or more seasons; and Managers, Umpires and Executives with 10 or more years in baseball.

Adams, Herrmann, McCormick, von der Ahe and Stovey are new additions for consideration by the Pre-Integration Era Committee, which elected Hank O’Day, Jacob Ruppert and Deacon White in December 2012, the last time the Pre-Integration Era Ballot was considered. Tony Mullane and Alfred Reach were previously considered for election in the fall of 2012 but did not return to the 2016 Pre-Integration Era ballot.

The Pre-Integration Era ballot was determined this fall by the Historical Overview Committee, comprised of 11 veteran historians: Dave Van Dyck (Chicago Tribune); Bob Elliott (Toronto Sun); Jim Henneman (formerly Baltimore Sun); Rick Hummel (St. Louis Post-Dispatch); Steve Hirdt (Elias Sports Bureau); Bill Madden (formerly New York Daily News); Jack O’Connell (BBWAA secretary/treasurer); Jim Reeves (formerly Fort Worth Star-Telegram); Tracy Ringolsby (MLB.com); Glenn Schwarz (formerly San Francisco Chronicle); and Mark Whicker (Los Angeles News Group).

The 16-member Hall of Fame Board-appointed electorate charged with the review of the Pre-Integration Era ballot will be announced later this fall. The Pre-Integration Era electorate will meet to discuss and review the candidacies of the 10 finalists as part of baseball’s Winter Meetings, December 6-7 in Nashville.

Bobby V And PED’s

It’s September and the playoffs are on the horizon, which means we will be hearing from Bobby Valentine early and often in the coming weeks. He has made the rounds of MLB Network and SNY, as the last skipper to lead the Amazins’ to the World Series cajoles, waxes and pontificates on all things baseball.

Away from the diamond, the current athletic director at sacred Heart University is continuing to make inroads with films, and his latest documentary (co-produced with Andrew Muscato) called “DOPED: The Dirty Side Of Sports.” It will air Wednesday at 8 PM on EPIX, and will look at the issue of performance enhancing drugs from the athlete side, especially the conflicts that groups like WADA and USADA now have in sports like boxing and track and field.

The film will have some baseball, of course, as former MLB investigator Ed Dominguez will chime in on whether Bud Selig again knew more than he ever let on during a steroid era that built stars and almost crushed Valentine’s beloved sport.

Valentine himself offered his own opinion last week on Sports Illustrated.com, saying that he thought PED’s actually had a place in the game.

“There’s a lot of really good drugs out there that we do take that make us feel better and perform better, and I think these PEDs that people talk about, that are performance-enhancers, will eventually get into the mainstream,” he added.

Probably not something that current Commish Rob Manfred wants to hear, but Bobby V. is a deep thinker, and that’s why we love him.  Never a dull moment with the man from Stamford.