The 5 best Jewish baseball players of all time – Jewish business news

Top 5 Jewish baseball players of all time

Its opening day today!

Hank Greenberg (Wikipedia)

(This is dedicated to my father whose birthday just happens to be today.)

It’s opening day in America. Major League Baseball returns today. Last year they staged a truncated season with just 60 games because of the coronavirus. Halfway through spring training last March, the MLB was forced to shut down and only returned in August. And then the stadiums were empty because the fans were not allowed to attend the matches.

And this year, the opening day is in the middle of Pesach. It can be seen as a special bracha, a blessing.

Everyone is now talking about the importance of baseball to America. With Covid vaccines more readily available, all teams can have at least a few fans in attendance. And what could be more Jewish than baseball?

Baseball is kind of a religion, in a way. Just listen to how Susan Sarandon spoke of the baseball temple in the movie “Bull Durham”. It is passed from father to son, just like a religion. People remember the first take they had with their dad. Watch the last ten minutes of “Field of Dreams”.

Spending the afternoon at the ball park can be compared to a spiritual experience. And since the first Jews settled in Brooklyn and started going to games at Ebbets Field, baseball has been part of American Jewish tradition.

So even if you can’t make it to the park because of Covid, even though you still have to engage in social separation wherever you are in the world, you can still find a way to see at least part of it. a game today. If you stay kosher, you can’t get cold from it or even crackerjacks since his Passover. But don’t let that stop you from enjoying the day.

The opening day of Major League Baseball is a statutory holiday, so treat it as such.

Now here is our list of the five greatest Jewish baseball players of all time.

5 – Art Shamsky

Art Shamsky only played 8 seasons. He set no record, never led the league in anything and will never make it to the Hall of Fame. But he did one very important thing in his career: he was on the 1969 Miracle Mets that won the World Series.

4 – Ken Holtzman

Ken Holtzman may not have made it into the Hall of Fame, but he was still one of the greats. Holtzman had two without a hitter and won three World Series championships in a row with the Oakland A’s from 1972 to 1974.

3 – Al Rosen

Al Rosen played for 10 seasons, all with the Cleveland Indians. He won a World Series in 1948 and was the American League MVP in 1953. That year he had a batting average of .336, .422 based percentage, .613 slugging percentage,. 43 circuits and 145 RBIs. He has been a four-time All-Star with over 100 RBIs five times. Rosen was forced to take early retirement at the age of 32 due to back and leg injuries.

Sandy Koufax pitches

2 – Sandy Koufax

Sandy Koufax only played 12 seasons, but he dominated baseball throughout his career. He won four world championships, the first and most important in 1955. It was the year the Brooklyn Dodgers won their one and only World Series championship, and they did so against the hated rival. of the New York Yankees. Koufax also won three Cy Young awards as the National League’s top pitcher and two World Series MVP awards.

He’s led all baseball in strikeouts four times. He’s had over 300 strikeouts on three occasions, including 382 in 1964. This is the second more than a season in the modern era of baseball that began in 1900. The record for most is just one of more at 383, owned by Nolan Ryan.

Koufax has led the league in strikeouts with over 300 over his last two seasons and led him on earned runs average over his last five seasons, finishing three times under a 2.0 average. And yet he retired right after that. Koufax said he can still throw well, but worries about damaging his arm and being permanently injured if he does.

Sandy Koufax (Wikipedia)

Koufax is most famous among Jews for not playing a game on Yom Kipur in the 1965 World Series against the Minnesota Twins. As a pitcher, he didn’t have to play every day. But it was the first game in the series and he was expected to pitch. The Dodgers lost that game, but won the series in Seven. Generations of Jews in the Minneapolis, Minnesota area have since claimed that Sandy Koufax stayed in their community for the Yom Kipur vacation that year. .

He was inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame in 1972 in his first year of eligibility.

1 – Hark Greenberg

Of course, Hank Greenberg is number one! Who else? You were probably expecting Sandy Koufax, but he just couldn’t be the first. Sorry, Brooklyn Dodgers fans.

First of all, the two men played the game at twenty years apart. So Greenberg has had to deal with a lot more anti-Semitism in his career than Koufax. In fact, since he was the first Jewish sports star in history, Greenberg could even be compared to Jackie Robinson.

The son of Romanian Jewish immigrants, Hank Greenberg was born in Greenwich Village and raised in the Bronx. His name made Greenberg more overtly Jewish in the eyes of fans and he was forced to endure hate speech all the time, but he took it emphatically.

Hank Greenberg 1937 All Stars (Wikipedia)

“At every rough point that I went, there was someone in the stands who spent the whole afternoon calling me names,” Greenberg said in a 1980 oral history. “If you pass a good day, you don’t care. But if you’re having a bad day, well, real quick you get hot under the collar.

Sandy Koufax played his first seasons in Brooklyn, which was then the heart and soul of Jewish America. He then moved with the Dodgers to Los Angeles, which, as Hollywood’s home, was also a more Jewish-friendly neighborhood. But above all, Koufax performed in a time of peace and wealth in America. By the 1960s, Jews may still not have access to private clubs, etc., but the barriers that once prevented them from working in American companies had started to crumble.

Greenberg performed in Detroit, not New York, and during the Depression and Hitler’s rise in Germany. It was a precarious time for the Jews of America. Father Charles Coughlin, who broadcast anti-Semitic and pro-Hitler speeches almost daily on the radio, was based in Detroit. Until Pearl Harbor, people feared America would never go to war with Germany and Nazism. Hank Greenberg played through the times, always mindful of the situation the world and Jews around the world found themselves in.

“Every home run I hit was a home run against Hitler,” Hank Greenberg once remarked of that time. He also once said that he wanted “to be remembered not only as a great baseball player, but even more as a great Jewish ball player.”

Hank Greenberg sworn in (Wikipedia)

And Hank Greenberg also missed three full seasons of baseball, and parts of two more, during his heyday of military service in World War II. Greenberg was initially exempted from the service due to flat feet. But he insisted on serving and saw his physical status improved to do so. And its service actually began before America went to war.

He was drafted in 1941 after playing just 19 games for the Tigers that spring. Greenberg was released from the service on December 5, two days before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. So Hank Greenberg enlisted again the following February; though, he was already 30 years old and didn’t have to. He served in the Air Force and reached the rank of captain. Greenberg served for a total of 47 months.

His return to baseball came after the end of the war in Europe, but before the Japanese surrender on July 1, 1945. He would only play half a season that year.

After missing more than 4 and a half seasons of play in military service, Hank Greenberg ended his career with 331 home runs. He led the American League in home runs four times, hitting up to 58 in 1938. He had 1,628 career baselines, hitting over 200 per season (a very big deal in baseball) three times. . He had 184 points beaten in 1937 (the third most on record in a single season) and led more than 100 points five times in his career. (This is also a very big problem.)

Hank Greenberg has also struck over 300 nine times, including 1945 after missing four years of play. He finished with a career 0.312 batting average, two US MVP awards and two world championships. Hank Greenberg was inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame in 1956. He died in 1986 at the age of 75.

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