By Scott Barancik, Editor

Ryan Braun hit career home run #332 on Friday (6/7/2019) to surpass Detroit Tigers legend Hank Greenberg as the all-time Jewish leader (see list).

The three-run homer was suitably majestic. Coming off a 92-mph fastball tossed by Pittsburgh Pirates reliever Nick Kingham, the 6th-inning shot traveled 419 feet to dead center and helped secure a 10-4 Milwaukee Brewers victory at home.

Home run #10 of the season didn’t come easily. After tying Greenberg’s record on May 14, Braun went homerless for 18 games before breaking the spell Friday.

Now 35, Braun has spent his entire career with Milwaukee and is the franchise’s career HR leader. His total ranks #6 among active players and is only 6 HRs behind #5 Curtis Granderson.

The California-born son of an Israeli-born father and a Catholic mother, Braun was a prized recruit out of the University of Miami. Selected by the Brewers in the 1st round of the 2005 draft (#5 overall), he spent just two full seasons in the minors before making his MLB debut on May 25, 2007 and hit his first Major League home run the next day. By season’s end, Braun was hitting .324 with 34 HRs and 97 RBIs, good enough to earn Rookie of the Year honors.

At the time, Braun’s 34 HRs tied for the 10th-highest rookie total in Major League history. Among those ahead of him on the list was Al Rosen, who clubbed 37 for the Indians in 1950.

Some may quarrel with Braun’s status as the all-time Jewish leader in home runs. For example, while Braun took 6,165 at-bats to hit his 331st home run, Hank Greenberg took just 5,184. Others point out that Greenberg skipped nearly 4 full seasons during the prime of his career to serve in the military.

And although Braun is Jewish under the broad criteria adopted by Jewish Baseball News, a small minority of fans complain that he is not halachically Jewish. Meanwhile, Jewish Baseball News recently vowed to mark Braun’s home-run total with an asterisk due to questions raised by his 2013 suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s drug policy.

But the Braun/Greenberg debate can tip the other way. For example, one Jewish Baseball News reader recently pointed out that because of Major League Baseball’s color barrier, Greenberg never faced an African-American pitcher. (Greenberg played his final game less than a month after the debut of Dan Bankhead, MLB’s first black pitcher.)

No matter how you look at it, Braun has had an admirable career so far, earning 6 All-Star selections as well as Rookie of the Year and MVP honors.

In honor of Braun’s latest achievement, we leave you with some lesser-known facts about his home-run prowess:

  • Exactly half (166) of Braun’s home runs have come at Milwaukee’s Miller Park, with the other half coming on the road
  • Braun has had two 3-HR games and thirty 2-HR games
  • Braun’s favorite inning is the 1st (77 HRs), and his favorite count is 0-0 (69 HRs)
  • More than 64% of Braun’s home runs have come either with the score tied or the Brewers behind
  • 161 of his home runs have come with the bases empty, and 6 with the bases full
  • 69% of his home runs have come against righties
  • Cincinnati has given up the most Braun home runs (42), and Reds pitcher Bronson Arroyo has given up more Braun home runs than any other MLB pitcher (5)
  • Exactly which home run is Braun’s longest is not entirely clear. The defunct website claimed Braun hit a 476-foot shot on September 24, 2007 (see article). Meanwhile, Statcast says the massive shot Braun hit out of Miller Park on May 25, 2015 traveled 474 feet (see video)

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