Jews to Play in Baseball All-Star Game
Jews will be represented on both sides Tuesday night in Anaheim.
Although the days of Shawn Green are over, star power continues to grow among Jewish baseball players. When the 2010 MLB All-Star Game kicks off Tuesday night in Anaheim, California, the Jewish faith will be represented on both sides. Starting in the outfield for the National League, Ryan Braun will square off against fellow Jew, Ian Kinsler, a second baseman who is a reserve for the American League team.
Braun, whose father is Israeli, was voted to play in the game by the fans. This season with the Milwaukee Brewers, the 26-year-old has a batting average of .292 and 102 hits, 13 of which homeruns. He also has 54 runs batted in, and 12 stolen bases.
The native of Mission Hills, California was the first ever Jewish NL Rookie of the Year back in 2007. Later that year, he was invited by former president George W. Bush to the White House for the annual Hanukkah dinner. In 2007 and 2008, Braun hit 34 and 37 homeruns, respectively. Only three Jewish ball players Hank Greenberg (58), Shawn Green (49) and Al Rosen (43), have trumped those numbers in a single season. Braun currently ranks seventh in all-time homeruns by a Jewish athlete with 116.
Braun’s accomplishments make his Jewish heritage very special to him. “Being Jewish is something I take great pride in. There aren’t too many Jewish athletes that have achieved success at the highest level, so it’s something I am very proud of,” said Braun.
In the other dugout, Ian Kinsler of the Texas Rangers will await his turn to play in the game. The 28-year-old from Tucson, Arizona has a batting average of .310 this season, with 74 hits and eight stolen bases, despite missing 21 games with a sprained right ankle. He will be replacing the injured Dustin Pedroia of the Boston Red Sox in tomorrow’s (Tues., July 13th) game.
Kinsler, who once hit for the cycle, collected 31 home runs in 2009, and had 86 runs batted in. He also stole 31 bases that year. Like Braun, his Judaism stems from his father’s side of the family. He loves to reminisce about his Jewish upbringing. “We'd have Chanukah and I'd be excited…We'd sing the songs, light the candles, play Dreidel. Then every year for Passover we'd have a seder, which I always looked forward to. I'm not a devoutly spiritual person, but I'm very into the cultural identity that comes with being Jewish. If there are Jewish kids out there who look up to me or see me as a role model of what's possible, I embrace that proudly."
Kinsler’s All-Star status in the world of baseball does not harm his abilities to hold onto his heritage. “I'm comfortable with who I am,” Kinsler says. “And part of who I am is Jewish.”