A First Look at Memorabilia from Barney Pelty: The Yiddish Curver

Sandy Koufax was arguably the greatest left handed pitcher of all time, and is indisputably the greatest Jewish baseball player of all time. Barney Pelty’s claim to fame? He was arguably the greatest right-handed Jewish pitcher of all time. 

Known as the “Yiddish Curver,” he pitched from 1903 to 1912 in the deadball era, racking up 92 wins over 1,908 innings. In his best season of 1906, he went 16-11 for the St. Louis Browns, with a sparkling 1.59 ERA over 260 innings, posting the lowest hits per nine innings of any pitcher in the league.

Barney Pelty’s T206 card from 1910, as auctioned by Love of the Game in 2014.

According to The Baseball Talmud by Howard Megdal, Pelty has the best ERA+ (which weighs Earned Run Average against historical averages of a pitcher’s era) of any Jewish right-hander:

  1. Barney Pelty 100
  2. Erskine Mayer 99
  3. Steve Stone 98
  4. Saul Rogovin 96
  5. Jason Marquis 96
  6. Barry Latman 94

According to Christopher Williams and Robert Bigelo of the Society for American Baseball Research, Pelty was a trailblazer for Jewish baseball players, as he made no effort to hide his Jewish heritage. In his career, he was a batterymate of Branch Rickey, outdueled Cy Young, and threw a shutout in the first game played in Chicago’s Comiskey Park. He still holds the franchise record for the Browns (now the Baltimore Orioles) for most career hit batsmen.

He came up with a sore arm in the latter half of his career, and pitched briefly for the Washington Senators for his final year in the big leagues. He then was sold to the Baltimore Orioles and Minneapolis Millers, but never pitched again after 1912. 

We at Love of the Game Auctions are pleased to announce that Barney Pelty’s fascinating career has come alive once more thanks to a spectacular memorabilia consignment from his family. The collection includes a host of postcards, photos, scrapbooks and more, and will be offered in our Fall, 2022 and Spring, 2023 auctions. We are thrilled to offer the personal collection of a deadball era player.

Some of the items include:

Postcards of Pelty and his St. Louis Browns teammates 

Several other postcards including eight 1906 W601 Sporting Life team composite postcards

More than 20 rare 1908 PC743 Bregstone postcards of various members of the St. Louis Browns, more than quadrupling PSA’s graded population of Bregstone postcards.

Other items of interest include:

  • Several cabinet photos, including a beautiful Carl Horner photo of Pelty and a cabinet of the Browns including Rube Waddell
  • Several panoramic team photos, including a photo of the 1908 Browns
  • Bid on these items and many more during our Winter 2022 Auction.

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