JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — It’s only natural: flame-throwing pitcher is called up from the minors with great fanfare. First four outings exceed almost any rational expectation of what a 21-year-old rookie might accomplish. And baseball fans everywhere begin checking Google to find out his religion.

Who wouldn’t want to claim Washington Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg as their own right now? So it is that many Jews — along with Mormons, born-again Christians, and probably Zoroastrians — are curious about his faith.

A web site I enjoy,, arrived at its answer in a typically clever way. Said the site: if we haven’t heard by now that this extraordinary young athlete is Jewish, then, sadly, he must not be.

As a former newspaper reporter, I chose a more pedestrian approach: asking someone who knows. And today, Strasburg’s mother was kind enough to tell me via Facebook that the family is not Jewish. She even thanked me for my support, which was unnecessary but sweet. I hope her son continues his miraculous play.

By coincidence, on Wednesday (6/23/2010) I was watching Strasburg pitch against the Kansas City Royals when a close-up shot showed his necklace slip above his collar. Dangling from it was a cross.

Stephen Strasburg: not a Jew.

— Scott Barancik