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? 2. PAGE 20A Talkin' baseball: HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MARCH 30, 20,12 i Jewish Major Leaguers and why we care about them Jewish Major Leaguers Adam Greenberg, who was hit in the head inhis first and only Major League plate appearance with the Chicago Cubs in 2005, is one of more than 140Jewish Major Leaguers. By Peter Ephross in the first game of the 1965 World Series to, more recently, outfielder Shawn Green, both of the Dodgers. Every time a star player rests on tte High Holidays, it generates rational headlines and fosters Jewish pride. Of course, non-stars have to make the same call. The story of Jews in baseball NEW YORK (JTA)--Nearly all fans of baseball history have heard of Hank Green- berg. Most have heard of Al Rosen. But fewer have heard of Cal Abrams, and hardly any, it's safe to say, have heard of Lou Limmer. All four are members of a compelling team--the 165 American Jews who Ilayed Major League Baseball between the 1870s and the end of the 2010 season. Why should we care about Jews who played in the Major Leagues? Baseball helped American Jews feel at home and helped non-Jewish Americans feel comfortable around them. For instance, there's the famous Greenberg story of sitting out a game on Yore Kippur in 1934. The actions of the slugging Tigers' first baseman along with his home runs made him a hero to Jews and non-Jews. The conundrum of whether to play on Yorn Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, has resurfaced for many players, from Sandy Koufax deciding not to pitch goes beyond the well-trod turf of the "High Holidays dilemma." Rebutting anti- Semitism and fighting heck- lers was not uncommon for Jewish players, even when the hecklerswere on the opposing bench. In particular Rosen, a former amateur boxer, wasn't shy about taking on hecklers. Racial awareness is an- other theme. Most Jewish players understood some of the prejudices faced by black players. Some, like Abrams, felt a special bond with their black teammates. "t associated with them because we had a rapport about being with each other," Abrams said of his black team- mates on the Brooklyn Dodg- ers, including Jackie Rob- i'nson. "We kibitzed around with each other, but I didn't go out w_ith them. I mean, i wouldn't go into the end of town to go dancing with the bla:k people, but whenever we could we were together clowning around and kidding around." Jewish pride is a recurrent trope, too. Ron Blomberg made many New York Yan- kees' ushers happy when he made his debut for the team in 1967. "Most of them were Jewish, with names like Hymowitz or Lichstein, and three or four of them told me they never thought they would ever see a Jew play baseball in Yankee Stadium," Blomberg recalled. "They had tears in the eyes and said to me, 'You little Yid, you're someone I can look up to now.'" Pride in being Jewish is one thing, but being actively Jewish is another--most Jewish players, like most American Jews, weren't ob- servant. Many were.raised Orthodox--Al Schacht says his mother wanted him to be a cantor--but none seemed to have maintained this level of observance as adults. It makes sense: Eating kosher food and maintaining any sense of Shabbat, which restricts behaviors from sundown Friday through sundown Saturday, would be impossible while pursuing a professional baseball career. The collective accomplish- ments of Jewish Major Leagu- ers likely would surprise most eople. Jews, who made up about 3 percent of the U.S. population during the 20th century, made up just 0.8 percent of baseball players from 1871 to 2002, the latest year for which the nonprofit organization Jewish Major Leaguers has complete fig- ures. But Jewish players on the whole have fared better than average. They hit 2,032 homers--0.9 percent of the Major League total, and a bit higher than would be expected by their percentage of all play- ers. Their .265 batting average is 3 percentage points higher than the overall average. Jewish pitchers are 20 games above .500, with six of baseball's first 230 no-hitters (four by Sandy Koufax, includ- ing a perfect game, and two by Ken Holtzman). The group ERA is 3.66, slightly lower than the 3.77 by all Major Leaguer hurlers. With the recent influx of top-flight Jew- ish Major Leaguers--Kevin Youkilis, Ryan Braun and Ian Kinsler come to mind--the statistics even may have im- proved since 2002. The stat in which Jews have fallen short is stolen bases, with a total of 995 through 2002--many fewer than Rickey Henderson stole all by himself. Aiparently, Jewish players have observed the Eighth Commandment: "Thou shalt not steal." Of the 141 Jewish Major Leaguers as of 2002, 122 were born into families in which both parents were Jewish and 13 had one Jewish parent (seven with a Jewish father and six with a Jewish mother). Six players--including Elliott Maddox, an African Ameri- can-converted to Judaism. Sixty-eight players hailed from New York or California, and the rest were born in 21 other states, as well as Rus- sia, France, Canada and the Dominican Republic. Ten players changed their last names, all but one of them before Greenberg played: Limmer, by the way, was a slugger who played for the PhiladelphiaAthletics in 1951 and 1954. Peter Ephross is the editor of the recently published 'Jew- sh Major Leaguers in Their Own Words: Oral Histories of 23 Players," from which this piece was excerpted. Spring 00:nffning report on Jews in the Major Leagues By Ron Kaplan New Jersey Jewish News Opening day is just around the corner, so it's time to take a look at the Jewish Major Leaguers for 2012. Statistics are through March 14. • Ike Davis (New York Mets) spent most of 2011 on the disabled list. So far, it hasn't been a promising new year; he's been suffering from Valley Fever, a fungal infection that affects the lungs. He has been ordered to take things relatively easy for the time being. • Josh Satin (Mets) has been playing a good deal of first base in Davis' stead. He's hoping to stickwith the team as a utilityman. • Ryan Braun (Milwaukee Brewers)--the 2011 National League MVP--breathed a big sigh of relief after a three-member arbitration panel last month cleared him of testing positive for a banned substance in a controversial decision. But if fans suspect any fall off his statistics based on suspected drug use, it wouldn't be fair; the team lost power hitter Prince Fielder to free agency, so Braun will not have that protection in the lineup. * Ian Kinsler (Texas Rang- l' Glickstein • Laval • Carris, P.A. iialmlm CERTIFIED PUBLIC ACCOUNTANTS Wishing Our Clients and Friends A Happy Passover 555 WINDERLEY PLACE, STE 400 MAITLAND, FL 32751 PHONE: (407)645-4775 .FAX: (407)629-1606 www.glccpa.com Wishing our. friends and clients a Happy Passover! MORKISON BROV(N ARGIZ & FARRA, LLC Ira Silver, CPA I Partner . isilver@mbafcpa.com Donald Levin, CPA I Director dlevin@mbafcpa.com 200 South OrangeAvenue, Suite 1445, Orlando, FL 32801 T 407 237 3600 F 407 237 3601 I www.mbafcpa.com Wishing you a Happy'Passover m00aM_A.00T Allan Klaiman,'M.D. Klaiman Urology, P.A. 668 N. Orlando Avenue Suite 105 Maitland, t;L 32751 Phone (407) 774-2431 Fax (407} 774-9,t.73 we.KlaimanUrology.com ers) will be looking for a third season of 30 homers and 30 stolen bases to go along with his strong defense at second base. • Scott Feldman (Rang- ers) is looking to return to a strong rotation after missing a good chunk of 2011. He has pitched five innings over two games without giving up a run. • Kevin Youkilis (Boston Red Sox) is hoping to return to his All-Star status after his own injury problems. • Ryan Lavarnay (Red Sox) might see some extra playing time behind the plate now that Jason Varitek has retired. • Ryan Kalish (Red Sox) had shoulder surgery dur- ing the off-season and is not expected to return to action until April or May. • Danny Valencia (Min- nesota Twins) will be back at third base and looking to return to his rookie season numbers after a bit of a sophomore slump. • Jason Marquis (Minne- sota Twins) has a fair amount of pressure on his shoulders as he moves to his seventh team in !3 years; So far, not so good: in two games he's given up six hits and walked five in 4.2 innings, taking one loss to go with a 9.64 earned run average. • Craig Breslow (Arizona Damondbacks) has adopted a new uniform number: 32. The lefty reliever is no doubt paying homage to Sandy Koufax, who wore that nu- meral for the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers during his Hall of Fame career. Breslow pitched for the Oakland A's in 2011. • John Grabow (Los Ange- les Dodgers) is also sporting a new uniform. The eight-year veteran signed a minor league contract in the off-season. He has appeared in two games without allowing a run. • Michael Schwimer (Phil- Major League Baseball Major League Baseball Major League Baseball lan ginsler Ryan Braun tke Davis Rachel Kaplan Will Kevin Youkilis seek divine intervention for a more productive season? adelphia Phillies) has been impressive in relief so far. In three games, he has a win and a save and has not allowed a run while striking out faur without a walk. • Sam Fuld (Tampa Bay Rays) enjoyed folk hero status early last year before coming down to earth. This year he hopes to continue his high- light reel performances as a defensive outfield specialist. Ron Kaplan is the features editor at the New Jersey Jewish News, from which this article was reprinted by permission.