Mr. Kalish

JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — Several months ago, Jewish Baseball News readers began asking about CF Ryan Kalish of the Boston Red Sox. Could the splashy rookie be a Member of the Tribe?

We decided to look into it. After pleasant but inconclusive chats with Kalish’s parents, including his Jewish father, we tried to contact the player directly. Kalish didn’t respond to our inquiries, however. Taking that as a ‘No’, we reluctantly labeled him “Not a Jew.”

But all that changed this week when we received a phone call from our friends at Jewish Sports Review. The news? Ryan Kalish, through a Red Sox spokesman, had consented to be listed in future editions of JSR’s bi-monthly publication. In other words, the 22-year-old was ready to openly declare his Jewishness.

As a result, Jewish Baseball News will now track Kalish much as we do other MLB Jews. Our only regret is that we didn’t get it right the first time, and crossed signals with JSR.

In our conversations this summer, Kalish’s parents were generous about discussing what is, after all, a very private matter. Steven Kalish is Jewish, had his Bar Mitzvah as a youth. But Eileen Kalish is Catholic, and the couple raised Ryan in her tradition. He was baptized, confirmed, and educated at a Catholic high school. “I fulfilled my guilt,” Eileen joked.

Sending Ryan to Catholic school didn’t exactly have the intended effect, however. “I think it made him question faith even more,” Eileen said. “He thinks there’s something up there, but he’s not sure what.”

“(Ryan) doesn’t identify strongly with any religion,” Steven Kalish added. Today, the family attends neither church nor synagogue. At most, they light the Chanukah candles and decorate the Christmas tree.

While some critics may question Kalish’s Jewishness, Jewish Baseball News defines “Jewish” broadly. If a player has a Jewish parent (or has converted to Judaism); does not practice another faith; and does not object to being identified as a Jew, we include him.

Kalish’s presence raises to 15 the number of Jews who played MLB ball in 2010. The only other rookie on the list, 3B Danny Valencia of the Minnesota Twins, was identified as Jewish in July.

We welcome Ryan Kalish to the Jewish baseball family. Please feel free to send him your own greetings in the Comments section below.