This amazing Sandy Koufax jersey could sell for $500,000


If you want to buy this Sandy Koufax jersey, you might need the salary of a major league baseball player.

Lelands.com is auctioning a Sandy Koufax rookie jersey from 1955. As of Tuesday morning, the current bid is close to $200,000, but the auction site estimates that it could sell for as much as $500,000. The auction, which started last month, ends June 30.

According to the site, the jersey is in great condition, its only noticeable blemishes a few moth holes on the back of the collar and under the Koufax name, which is stitched on the bottom right corner of the jersey’s front. A Dodgers minor league player acquired it directly from Koufax in 1957.

Though he was only 19 in 1955, Koufax helped lead the Brooklyn Dodgers to their first-ever World Series, with a 2-2 record with a very respectable 3.02 earned run average. From there, of course, the Jewish southpaw would go on to become one of the best pitchers of all time, but memorabilia from an athlete’s rookie (or first full) season is always worth more than from later years.

The Lelands auction also includes a baseball that may have been used in a 1963 World Series game in which Koufax beat the New York Yankees and recorded 15 strikeouts. Koufax pitched that gem in the series’ first game, but Lelands can only confirm that the ball is from one of the first two games in the series.

Last fall, Lelands auctioned off an extremely rare baseball card signed by Jewish player Moe Berg for over $17,000. Berg, who played for five teams between 1923 and 1939, was a catcher who later became a spy for the CIA (then the Office of Strategic Services). He spoke seven languages and was once called the “strangest man ever to play baseball.”

At-home interview with “Major Crimes” stars Phillip P Keene, Kearran Giovanni


Phillip P Keene and Kearran Giovanni star on TNT’s top-rated drama, “Major Crimes”.  Their characters, Buzz and Amy, may be friends on screen, but once the cameras stop rolling the pair become more like family.  It was clear just how much they care for each other when I joined them recently at Phillip’s home to discuss the show as well as his former career as a Pan Am flight attendant.

‘Bad Blood’, last night’s episode of “Major Crimes”, hit home for Phillip.  One of his relatives served as the inspiration for the show’s victim, though he didn’t realize it immediately.  The close-knit cast did and were there to support him as he worked through his “funk”.

The conversation didn’t stop there.  The friends shared personal stories about when it’s like when their personal and professional lives intersect.  In fact, Phillip is married to “Major Crimes” creator and executive producer James Duff.  Kearran planned their wedding as well as a more recent 50th birthday party for Phillip.

The theme?  Phillip’s passion: Pan Am.  Phillip talks with nostalgia about the years he spent as a Pan Am flight attendant.  He owns one of the largest collections of Pan Am memorabilia in the world and looks forward to cataloguing and displaying these pieces of history for the public.

For exclusive party photos, a close look at Phillip’s Pan Am collection and more, take a look below:

 

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Artifact-rich Sports Museum opens downtown


A T206 Honus Wagner baseball card, one of the rarest in the world. Barry Bonds’ 755th home run ball. A handful of infield dirt, the broken champagne bottle used to christen the stadium and the first ball thrown out at Ebbets Field, home of the Brooklyn Dodgers, in 1913.

These are some of the gems at the Sports Museum of Los Angeles, which opened on Nov. 28. Not surprisingly, the collection, owned by Gary Cypres and housed downtown in a 32,000-square-foot warehouse, has already generated the kind of breathless blurbs usually uttered by radio personalities for movie openings.

“Awesome! Fantastic! Unbelievable! That one person could collect all this memorabilia is incomprehensible,” Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said of the museum, located a few blocks south of Staples Center.

“The best sports museum in the world!” former Dodger owner Peter O’Malley added.

This is one case where everything that has been said is true. Cypres’ vast sports collection, which fills 30 well-lighted galleries, is extraordinary and reflects its owner’s deep love of sports history.

It is not simply that he knows Yale, not USC, was the school that pioneered football; Cypres also owns a rare Edison film of the 1903 Yale vs. Princeton football game, which runs on a small screen above an exhibit on college football.

And it’s not simply that he knows that the L.A. Times got it wrong when it reported that, after Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak ended, he hit in another 12 games (Joltin’ Joe actually hit in another 16 consecutive games); Cypres also owns the ball that was speared by Cleveland’s Ken Keltner to end DiMaggio’s 56-game skein.

Still, one has to ask, where are the Jewish sports artifacts?

Mark Spitz’ gold medals? Barney Ross’ lightweight, junior welterweight and welterweight belts? Hank Greenberg’s 58th home run ball from 1938?

None of these are to be found at the museum, but there is a jersey worn in 1957 by Dodger Sandy Koufax, one of the greatest Jewish athletes of the past century and arguably the greatest left-handed pitcher in the history of Major League Baseball.

Cypres, who slumps over but who once stood about 6-foot-3 1/2-inches when he played forward at Hofstra, says, “You want Jewish?”

He points out a photograph of the Cleveland Rosenblums, a championship basketball squad from the late 1920s and early 1930s. What is striking is how much shorter the players were then. The tallest player, Joe Lapchick, was 6-foot-5, tiny by today’s standards. Dressed in knee pads and tank-tops, sticking out their chests, with their bodies turned to the side, not straight-on, the Rosenblums look more like a college wrestling team than a pro basketball squad.

In one of the basketball rooms, there are also jackets worn by members of the House of David, a barnstorming outfit that played basketball and baseball, and the Philadelphia Sphas, a legendary Jewish hoops team during the early days of basketball. There are also photos and a plaque of Abe Saperstein, founder of the Harlem Globetrotters.

A modest, unassuming man who has made his money in investment banking and the travel business, Cypres, 65, grew up in the Bronx at a time when Jews were still dominant in basketball, when CCNY, a team coached by Nat Holman and comprised of many Jews, became the only school to win the NIT and NCAA titles in the same year. Cypres played ball on the playgrounds and at summer camp with Larry Brown, the current Charlotte Bobcats coach, who was himself a great player in the ABA.

Yet when asked what it meant to be a Jewish kid back then, when there were many star Jewish athletes, Cypres says that didn’t influence him to play basketball.

His favorite athlete was Mickey Mantle.

Although he roots for the Dodgers now, Cypres still has a love for his boyhood Yankees and has a whole room devoted to Mantle as well as rooms filled with DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth memorabilia.

Unfortunately, despite the wealth and beauty of the resources in this museum, it has attracted few visitors so far. Part of that is due to the economy, which is harming attendance at many museums such as MOCA, on whose board Cypres’ wife, Kathi, sits. Part of it is due to its location, downtown, as opposed to the Westside. And part of it is due to the time of year. Cypres expects greater turnout in the summer when kids are out of school.

But Cypres has gotten many calls from corporations, asking to hold events in his museum. He sees it as a perfect spot to host dinners, seminars and parties.

Meanwhile, his sports memorabilia collection, which he values at roughly $30 million, keeps gaining in value. As he says, “better than the stock market, Imight add.”

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Top: Uniform jerseys that are part of the Los Angeles Dodgers gallery. Bottom: Evolution of the football uniform in one of the football galleries at the Sports Museum of Los Angeles. Photos courtesy of the Sports Museum of Los Angeles

Etz Jacob: The Shul that Could


Etz Jacob Congregation (above); President Bernard Abend (left)and Rabbi Rubin Huttler (right).

 

Attention,anyone who was ever married or bar mitzvahed at Etz JacobCongregation at 7659 Beverly Blvd.: The shul wants testimonials,photographs and memorabilia for an exhibit honoring its 80thanniversary. The temple is the oldest in Beverly-Fairfax, and,according to Rabbi Rubin Huttler, it’s in large part responsible forcreating the Jewish enclave around Fairfax Avenue.

Today, it perseveres despite the changing demographics, as Jewsare moving to the Valley or the Westside. Huttler struggles to makeends meet with the help of his elderly president, Bernard Abend, “whohas taken us out of crisis after crisis.”

The Orthodox shul’s history begins at the turn of the century,with its founding rabbi, Jacob Bauman, a brilliant scholar fromRiseshitz, Poland. When his son fell ill, the rabbi sought a postoverseas so that he could pay the hospital bills; ultimately, he paid$60 for a steerage ticket to New York and packed kosher food for thefive-day train ride to Los Angeles.

To earn a living, Bauman worked as a shochet, a ritualslaughterer, and in 1918 he founded a congregation in a grandVictorian home at 947 Arapahoe St.

Prohibition brought a bit of drama to this precursor of Etz JacobCongregation. Shul leaders had a permit for the use of ritual wine,but one delivery was stolen when trucks burst into the winery andcrooks tied up the government inspector. The robbery made thenewspaper headlines, the Internal Revenue Service demanded exorbitanttaxes, and it was only after a landmark court case that the rabbi wasexonerated.

Bauman moved the congregation to the Fairfax area almost byaccident. In the early 1930s, he rented a house at 127 S. Martel Ave.to be closer to his grown daughters; he needed a home near thestreetcar line that could get him downtown early for his supervisionjob at the kosher slaughterhouse. Before long, the area’s scatteredJews, who had moved west from Boyle Heights, began to join him for aminyan in his home. The numbers grew so fast that a businessmanpurchased the shul’s current property, a foreclosure at BeverlyBoulevard near Stanley Avenue, for $5,000 in 1933.

A Talmud Torah (religious school) ensued, as did a variety ofJewish services. “I believe Beverly-Fairfax became Beverly-Fairfaxbecause Etz Jacob offered everything a Jew could need, from thecradle to the grave,” says Huttler, who arrived at the shul when itwas still in its heydey, in 1970.

There was a successful Sisterhood and crowded luncheons for whichthe balabustas cooked all day in the synagogue kitchen. Two thousandpeople frequented High Holiday services at three sites.

But by the 1980s, the neighborhood was changing, becoming lessJewish as yuppies moved west and observant Jews moved east to HancockPark and the conservative Orthodox shuls along La Brea. “As amiddle-of-the-road Orthodox synagogue, we’re too modern for a lot ofpeople, and that makes things more challenging for us,” saysHuttler’s wife, Miriam.

Then there was the matter of Etz Jacob’s day school, which Huttlerbegan in 1989 to offer affordable Jewish education to the Russians,Iranians and needy families moving into the area. The problem wasthat most of the children were on scholarship, and the school oftenran hand-to-mouth.

Nevertheless, Etz Jacob persisted, and today it is proving itselfThe Shul that Could. Young couples are enrolling their children inthe Talmud Torah, the only one left in the neighborhood, “which wedecided to keep open no matter what,” Huttler says. A benefactorhelped the day school, which moved from its shabby old premises toits new location on Beverly, six blocks west of the synagogue.

Huttler continues to perform circumcisions and bar mitzvahs forRussian youths, and a successful Iranian minyan endures at the shul,which has about 200 members, half elderly, half young families withchildren.

“We’re reaching out to whomever we can in the area, includingthose who can’t afford expensive synagogue dues,” Huttler says.”We’re challenged to help these people, who don’t seem to have aplace in any other area shul.”

Huttler does not want Etz Jacob to become “another Breed StreetShul, abandoned and boarded up.” Thus, he came up with the idea forthe 80th-anniversary celebration, which will start with a Chanukahdinner on Dec. 28, honoring Judge Bruce Einhorn, and continue with amuseum exhibit, a year’s worth of programming and, most importantly,an endowment fund drive. “We’ve been fighting hard, and we’re stillhere,” Huttler says. “Our goal is to preserve the shul, and we feelwe have an important role to play in keeping Fairfax a traditionalJewish area.”

If you have photos, memories or memorabilia for the shul’s 80thanniversary, call Rabbi Huttler at (213) 938-2619. He’s interested intaking down your oral history.