Shalom Life | September 19, 2014

Jews and Baseball...An Inseparable Duo

It's time the world rid of the "Jews only wear suits" slight

By: Jason Greenspan

Published: May 30th, 2012 in Culture » Society » News

Jews and Baseball...An Inseparable Duo

Israel’s invitation to qualify in the 2013 World Baseball Classic (WBC) is not only a grand achievement for a country whose baseball program is still in its infant stages, but also a key stepping stone to further legitimize Jewish athletes already contributing as a whole in the sport.

The WBC is an international event, which brings together the elite talents in the game, proudly representing their countries in an elimination tournament comparable to soccer’s World Cup. Israel is one of 12 new invitees, who will be joined by the bottom 4 teams from the 2009 WBC in a preliminary qualifying tournament this fall.

But by no means is this to be taken as an introduction for Jews to the annals of baseball lore.

Jews and baseball have historically had a rich and fruitful partnership. Typically being associated with the business side of things (MLB Commissioner and former Brewers owner Al "Bud" Selig is one prominent name that stands out), countless athletes have also had some very lucrative careers on the field.

Who can forget Hank Greenberg, the original "Hebrew Hammer"? Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1956, Greenberg was a five-time All-Star and a two-time MVP. Although admittedly not a "religious" Jew, he sat out a game in 1934 in observance of Yom Kippur.

The most famous name that comes to mind is former Dodgers pitcher Sandy Koufax, a seven-time All-Star, three-time Cy Young winner and 1963 NL MVP (The list keeps going…), who in 1965, reminiscent to what Greenberg had done 31 years prior, sat out Game 1 of the World Series, also on Yom Kippur. (Possible trend forming?)

On a more contemporary level, in 2001 Blue Jay alumnus Shawn Green, then playing for the Dodgers, created a similar stir to Greenberg and Koufax when he too opted not to play on Yom Kippur while his team was fighting for a spot in the postseason. In his autobiography "The Way of Baseball," Green describes his insecurities, yet eventual acceptance of his journey to becoming a "Jewish role Model."

Even while being engulfed within the exclusive athletic fraternity that is baseball, with its own engrained culture and priorities, it seems that the power of an individual’s Judaic roots ceases to dissipate.

Back to 2012…

With the growing number of American born names being proudly associated with Israel's submission to the WBC, a similar sense of cultural pride can once again be seen.

Already confirmed is recently retired 18 year Major League veteran Brad Ausmus, who has agreed to manage.

"I'm embracing the idea of being an ambassador for the sport in Israel" Ausmus told the Associated Press.

Other retired major leaguers such as Green and Gabe Kapler have been added to the team by Ausmus, either as players or in a coaching role.

Current major leaguers Ian Kinsler, Kevin Youkilis, and reigning NL MVP Ryan Braun have also been rumored to be in talks as possible candidates for the team.

Whether or not all of the big names mentioned decide to play is still being worked out, as Youkilis, Kinsler and Braun could very well be invited to play for the US team as well. The truly remarkable thing that needs to be emphasized is just the sheer interest and enthusiasm shown by contemporary Jewish major leaguers to represent their ancestral nation.

In a recent trip to Israel, Ausmus confirmed to the Associated Press that although not all Jewish players he spoke with had fully committed to the team, they were all “honoured" to be given the opportunity. The fact that they're even in discussions and considering the privilege gives merit to Jews in the public spotlight who are proudly embracing their heritage.

The enthusiasm demonstrated might ultimately prove to provide affirmation for up and coming Jewish athletes, who may have otherwise felt a career in the pros was either unattainable or impractical.

Israel has been given the opportunity to compete among the sports elite on an international stage, ultimately providing a huge boost to help educate against the stigma of "Jews ONLY wearing the suits". It seems history has shown we don't look so bad in uniform either.

Breakthrough Jew – Nat Wolff Breakthrough Jew – Nat Wolff TrendingAdam Lambert is Returning to 'American Idol' as Guest Judge Adam Lambert is Returning to 'American Idol' as Guest Judge TrendingSeth Rogen Applies to Online Job Posting For Professional Blunt Roller Seth Rogen Applies to Online Job Posting For Professional Blunt Roller Trending
 

Need A Better Way To Express Yourself? Try Jewish Emojis

September 18, 2014 | By Daniel Koren
Need A Better Way To Express Yourself? Try Jewish Emojis

Latet, a food organization that offers meals for needy families in Israel, has created Emojew, which is now available for your texting needs

Read More

Breakthrough Jew – Nat Wolff

September 18, 2014 | By Sara Torvik
Breakthrough Jew – Nat Wolff

From 'The Naked Brothers Band' to 'The Fault In Our Stars', Nat Wolff has been working in Hollywood for over a decade and he's not even 20 yet.

Read More

Imam On Hamas TV: Jews Eat Matzos Made With the Blood of Muslims and Christians

September 18, 2014 | By Daniel Koren
Imam On Hamas TV: Jews Eat Matzos Made With the Blood of Muslims and Christians

"One could go on forever about the deceptiveness of the Jews," says Sheik Abd Al-Mun'im Abu Zant. "They are liars. They allow cannibalism, and the eating of human flesh"

Read More

Jewish Man High-Fives New Yorkers Hailing Cabs in Hilarious Video

September 18, 2014 | By Daniel Koren
Jewish Man High-Fives New Yorkers Hailing Cabs in Hilarious Video

"High Five New York" is the best video you'll watch all day, courtesy of bearded New York-based actor/director Meir Kalmanson

Read More

U.S. Senate Candidate's Campaign Slogan: "With Jews We Lose"

September 18, 2014 | By Daniel Koren
U.S. Senate Candidate's Campaign Slogan: "With Jews We Lose"

Kentucky-based Robert Ransdell has been plastering these offensive signs all over the suburb of Florence

Read More

Digital Torah: The Great Unifier

September 18, 2014 | By Rabbi Naphtali Lavenda
Digital Torah: The Great Unifier

The fusion of technology and traditional Jewish teaching methodologies allows us to send a pure, unified message that brings Jews around the world closer together, perhaps in what we can loosely call 'Hakhel 2.0.'

Read More

Talking Fitness with Lawyers Jeremy Diamond & Jeff Levy

September 18, 2014 | By Jordan Mazza
Talking Fitness with Lawyers Jeremy Diamond & Jeff Levy

We chat with two top Toronto lawyers about how they stave off an "extra winter coat" and strive for that endorphin rush as Canadian weather slides into single digits

Read More

Scottish Jews Prefer to Be Part of the U.K.

September 18, 2014 | By Tali Farkash
Scottish Jews Prefer to Be Part of the U.K.

While Jewish community leaders decide to remain neutral on historic referendum taking place Thursday, many believe independence will lead to a more anti-Semitic and anti-Israel Scotland

Read More

More Headlines