You hear stories. A man out west, they said. A healer, a powerful man, possessed with riches untold about which he is unaccountably humble. Of course, in the Guy Remembering game you hear all kinds of things. Memory is complicated, memory is variable; the story as you tell it is not as you heard it, and neither is quite the same as the truth. We remember all kinds of things, and only some of them are true, and as a general rule even fewer of those things are about Ron Blomberg. Spend enough time remembering guys and the work can harden you, make it so you don’t trust anything but what you remember, which is at least untrustable in a way you know. But still we kept hearing the stories.
And so we went to California, because the legends were so wild and because my friend Erin, an art curator who has worked with Dr. Stoll, vouched for it all. The name of our Man Out West’s name is Seymour Stoll, and he is a doctor. He lives in Beverly Hills. And he has the world’s foremost collection of baseball cards featuring Jewish baseball players.
Dr. Stoll was kind enough not only to welcome us into his living room but to let us move his couch so we could better inspect the gems in his collection. And that collection is remarkable in every possible sense—Seymour has a great many cards of real historical significance and also a bunch that are just weird and barely even baseball cards. His collection has toured the country as part of an exhibition called Chasing Dreams: Baseball And Becoming American since 2014, and we were lucky to find it at home. As befits any suitably capacious collection of guys, this one enfolds Jewish baseball players who were stars in the decade after the Civil War and also those who were unremarkable platoon guys and extremely remarkable party legends during the Nixon Administration, as well as a cup-of-coffee reliever whose only extant baseball card 1) was technically a sticker and 2) could only be found in baseball card stores in Caracas, Venezuela. In this, the first of three installments, we focused on the more recent and outwardly unremarkable guys.
Not since our encounters with former Cooperstown mayor and baseball historian Jeff Katz has Deadspin’s Guy Team met a collector quite as generous or knowledgeable as Dr. Stoll. It is true that I can, more often than not, remember some stuff about various baseball players from New Jersey. But it takes Dr. Seymour Stoll to tell you why and how and when Astros outfielder Norm Miller fell from grace with an unforgiving Old Testament God.