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By Scott Barancik, Editor

Joc Pederson hit a solo home run last night to help the Los Angeles Dodgers earn a 3-1 win over the Houston Astros in Game 6 of the 2017 World Series and force a decisive seventh game. His post-homer celebration was jubilant:

The homer, his third of the Series, set a record for Jewish ballplayers. Two other players — Astros 3B Alex Bregman in the current Series, and Detroit Tigers 1B Hank Greenberg in 1945 — have hit two round-trippers in a single Series. What’s even more impressive about Pederson is that he’s hit three HRs in just 16 plate appearances. Bregman will have a chance to tie Pederson’s record when they face off tonight in Game 7.

Pederson’s performance this Series isn’t just notable within the narrow universe of Jewish major leaguers, of which there have been roughly just 170. The 25-year-old’s three homers are tied for the most in Dodger history since the team moved to Los Angeles, according to MLB.com:

pederson dodgers postseason hrs

With the possible exception of Houston’s George Springer, Pederson is leading all 2017 World Series players in offense. With 3 HRs and 2 doubles in just 16 plate appearances, he is No. 1 overall in slugging percentage (1.143) and OPS (1.580), also known as On Base Plus Slugging.

The Palo Alto native’s output is particularly surprising given that he ended the regular season with 31 straight homerless games, a period during which he hit just .123 and spent time in the minors. It wasn’t even clear he would make the Dodgers’s postseason roster.

Pederson explained his clutch performance after the game:

A recent article in the Jewish Journal delved into the ancestry of Pederson’s mother, Shelly Pederson. Born Shelly Cahn, she descends from Jewish ancestors in France, Russia, Germany, Poland and the Netherlands.

Tied 3-3, the 2017 World Series concludes tonight with Game 7 in Los Angeles.

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By Scott Barancik, Editor

Game 4 of the the 2017 World Series produced yet another record, says The Jewish Baseball Card Book author Bob Wechsler.

In his team’s 6-2 win yesterday, Los Angeles Dodgers DH Joc Pederson hit a 3-run home run in the top of the 9th to pad a one-run lead. The 410-foot drive to right center came on an 0-1 pitch, a 94.4-mph fastball from Houston’s Joe Musgrove. It was Pederson’s second home run and third extra-base hit in just nine at-bats this World Series.

In the bottom half of the inning, Astros 3B Alex Bregman got in on the fun with a solo home run to dead left. The 352-foot shot came on a 1-2 pitch, an 81.9-mph slider from Dodgers reliever Kenley Jansen. It was Bregman’s second home run of the Series.

It was the first game in World Series history that two Jewish players homered.

Pederson and Bregman aren’t just outperforming their Jewish forebears. They’re also outperforming their peers. So far this Series, they are two of only three players to hit 2 home runs. (Houston’s George Springer is the third.)

hr leaders 2017 world series thru game 4

HR leaders, 2017 World Series (thru Game 4)

Some other facts about Bregman and Pederson in this year’s World Series, as noted previously:

  • The last time two Jewish players took the field was the 2011 World Series, when Ian Kinsler and Scott Feldman played for the Texas Rangers.
  • The last time two Jewish players were on opposite teams was the 2004 World Series, when Gabe Kapler‘s Boston Red Sox defeated Jason Marquis‘s St. Louis Cardinals in four games.
  • When Bregman homered off Cy Young Award candidate Clayton Kershaw in Game 1 of the current Series, it was the first Jewish home run in a Series since All-Star pitcher Ken Holtzman shocked Athletics fans with a home run in Game 4 of Oakland’s 1974 matchup against the Dodgers.
  • When Pederson homered to break up a no-hitter in Game 2 of this year’s Series, it was the first Jewish home run since…Game 1.
  • Game 2 was the first time in World Series history that two different Jewish players had RBIs.
  • Pederson and Bregman are the first Jewish duo to homer at least twice apiece in a Series.

Here’s what Bregman had to say after last night’s loss about preparing for Game 5:

And here’s Pederson on his home run and getting used to playing DH:

Tied 2-2, the Series resumes tonight with Game 5 in Houston.

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[Updated and corrected 10/26/2017 @ 11:15 am]

By Scott Barancik, Editor

The 2017 World Series is only two games old, but according to stats gathered by The Jewish Baseball Card Book author Bob Wechsler, it’s already making history.

[Revised and corrected] For the first time since the 2011 World Series, when Ian Kinsler and Scott Feldman played for the Texas Rangers, two Jewish players are on the field: 3B Alex Bregman of the Houston Astros, and CF Joc Pederson of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The last time Jewish players were on opposite teams was the 2004 World Series, when Gabe Kapler‘s Boston Red Sox defeated Jason Marquis‘s St. Louis Cardinals in four games.

In Game 1, which the Dodgers took 3-1, Bregman homered off Cy Young Award candidate Clayton Kershaw for Houston’s lone run. It was the first Jewish home run in a Series since All-Star pitcher Ken Holtzman shocked Athletics fans with a home run in Game 4 of Oakland’s 1974 matchup against…the Dodgers.

In Houston’s 7-6, extra-inning win last night in Game 2, Bregman drove in the game’s first run with a second-inning single.

Pederson, who started in left field for Los Angeles, broke up Justin Verlander’s no-hitter with a fifth-inning home run to tie the game 1-1. As author Wechsler pointed out, it took 43 years for Bregman to break a Jewish home run drought in the World Series but just one game for Pederson to hit the next one.

But Bregman wasn’t done. In the 8th inning, he scored Houston’s second run of the game after hitting a ground-rule double.

And in the 11th, Bregman helped preserve Houston’s lead with a clutch catch of a screaming liner by L.A.’s Justin Turner.

[Updated] According to author Wechsler, Game 2 was the first time in World Series history that two different Jewish players had RBIs.

“Today’s game was the game that showed what the Astros are all about and it’s one through nine,” Bregman said afterward. “It’s an entire pitching staff coming through. It’s gotta be the greatest game I’ve ever played in and probably everybody in here.”

Tied at one game apiece, the Series now moves to Houston, with Game 3 scheduled for Friday.

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By Scott Barancik, Editor

Did your parents throw out the box of baseball cards you left in the attic or basement — including the ones of your favorite Jewish ballplayers?

Have no fear. With help from two nonprofit groups, author Bob Wechsler has just published the The Jewish Baseball Card Book, a hardcover history of original cards issued for each of the 169 Jews who played major-league ball from 1871 to 2016.

Click image to order book

Click image to order book

“What began as a tribute to the history of Jews in baseball through their cards evolved into a history of baseball cards itself,” said Martin Abramowitz, whose not-for-profit Jewish Majors Leaguers helped produce The Jewish Baseball Card Book, with assistance from Jewish Baseball Museum.

The coffee-table book also includes images of Jewish umpires, team owners, general managers and broadcasters. Wechsler, a retired sports editor, calls the tome “a collector’s Bible.” Old Testament, of course.

Copies can be purchased for $49.95 apiece by clicking here.

(Note: Scott Barancik, the editor of Jewish Baseball News, sits on the board of the not-for-profit Jewish Major Leaguers but receives no compensation from sales of The Jewish Baseball Card Book.)

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