Seattle Mariners prospect Braden Bishop

Seattle Mariners prospect Braden Bishop

By Scott Barancik, Editor

Braden Bishop, Jewish Baseball News’ 2017 Minor-League MVP, is a player to watch.

Selected by the Seattle Mariners in the 3rd round of the 2015 amateur draft, the California native hit .320 in his first season of professional ball. He has continued to impress. In 2017, Bishop was named MVP of the California League’s 2017 All-Star Game and finished the 2017 season with the franchise’s Double-A team, where he hit .336. He narrowly lost a roster spot to Sam Fuld when Team Israel played in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. And through March 17, 2018, he was hitting .400 for the Mariners at Spring Training.

It’s no wonder Bishop — the son of two Jewish parents — is ranked Seattle’s #4 prospect by The 24-year-old also has earned national kudos for the Alzheimer’s research charity he founded when mom Suzy Bishop was diagnosed with an early-onset case of the disease. His latest fundraising innovation was to donate money for every hit he got during Spring Training, which inspired a number of Major- and minor-league colleagues to follow suit.

Altogether, Bishop is a remarkable young man with a promising future both on and off the field.

But life is change, as the cliche goes, and Bishop has undergone a spiritual transformation. When a Jewish Baseball News reader recently saw photos of the University of Washington alum wearing a crucifix, we contacted the Seattle Mariners’ public-relations office for information. Bishop subsequently confirmed that he now is “non denominational Christian.”

Though Bishop’s conversion may sadden Jewish fans — the universe of professional ballplayers who are Jewish is a small one, after all — we hope this change brings Bishop peace and joy, and we will continue to root both for his professional success and his search for an Alzheimer’s cure.

But Jewish Baseball News will no longer include Bishop on our list of Jewish players. Instead, we will add his name to our list of players with Jewish heritage who don’t identify exclusively as Jewish, a roster that includes such notables as Arizona Diamondbacks 1B Paul Goldschmidt and Cleveland Indians 2B Jason Kipnis.

This decision may come as a surprise to anyone who assumed Jewish Baseball News employed a halachic definition of Judaism — i.e., the belief that what makes a person “Jewish” is his mother’s religion. We do not. As our About page explains, Jewish Baseball News has three criteria for determining if a player is Jewish, a set of rules developed decades ago by our colleagues at Jewish Sports Review:

  1. The player has at least one Jewish parent
  2. He/she does not actively practice another religion
  3. He/she does not object to being identified as Jewish

Some readers may take issue with our definition of “Jewish,” and fairly so. We are not a religious publication. No one anointed us arbiters of who is, and isn’t, Jewish. As such, others are welcome to develop their own lists. Team Israel, with whom we work closely, abides by the rules of the World Baseball Classic: whoever could technically qualify for Israeli citizenship can be on Team Israel’s roster.

But back to the matter at hand: Braden Bishop. Jewish Baseball News has the utmost respect for this young man, and we wish him the very best.

[NOTE: An earlier version of this article incorrectly said that Team Israel uses halachic law to determine eligibility for its roster.]

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