By Scott Barancik, Editor
It wasn’t just the 25-year-old southpaw’s Chicago Cubs premiere. It also marked the very first Jewish appearance in this storied franchise’s history.
In time, the numbers grew. Through 2016, a total of 16 Jewish players had worn a Cubs uniform. The most recent: outfielder Ryan Kalish, who first played for Chicago in 2014 and earned a .444 on-base percentage in 10 plate appearances during the 2016 regular season.
- Ryan Kalish, OF (2014, 2016)
- Scott Feldman, P (2013)
- John Grabow, P (2009-11)
- Sam Fuld, CF (2007, 2009-10)
- Jason Marquis, P (2007-08)
- Adam Greenberg, CF (2005)
- Andrew Lorraine, P (1999-2000)
- Jose J. Bautista, P (1993-94)
- Ken Holtzman, P (1965-71, 1978-79)
- Dave A. Roberts, P (1977-78)
- Steve Stone, P (1974-76)
- Art Shamsky, 1B (1972)
- Ed Mayer, P (1957-58)
- Hy Cohen, P (1955)
- Cy Block, 3B (1942, 1945-46)
- Lefty Weinert, P (1927-28)
The roster of Jewish Cubs is dominated by pitchers. Over the decades, a total of 11 hurlers have combined for 165 wins against 156 losses and a 4.07 ERA. Kenny Holtzman tossed two of the franchise’s 10 no-hitters and racked up 80 wins, tying him for 23rd-most in Cub history. Steve Stone, who also pitched for the White Sox, played three seasons with the Cubs before going on to earn a Cy Young Award with the Baltimore Orioles.
Pitchers are so dominant on the list that they account for 75 percent of all at-bats by Jewish Cubs — and eight of nine Jewish home runs. Position players have hit .253 with a .343 on-base percentage for the Cubs but managed just one home run in 328 combined at-bats, a solo shot by CF Sam Fuld on the last day of the 2009 regular season.
Art Shamsky burned the Cubs twice. In 1969, the outfielder hit .300 with the New York Mets to help deliver Chicago its most devastating late-season collapse. In 1972, in the twilight of his career, Shamsky managed just two hits in his only 16 at-bats as a Cub.
Theo Epstein, the Cubs’ president of baseball operations, assembled the roster that led to the team’s 2016 World Series triumph. There were no Jewish players in uniform during the Cubs’ playoff run, however. Kalish, who hit .368 at Triple-A in 2016, was left off the Major League roster and declared his free agency on October 11.
There was one Jewish Cub in a World Series, if only briefly. Cy Block entered Game 6 of the 1945 Series against Hank Greenberg‘s Detroit Tigers as a pinch-runner in the 9th inning with the score tied 7-7. Although he didn’t cross home plate, Chicago went on to beat Detroit 8-7 in 12 innings despite a Greenberg home run.
Detroit, of course, won Game 7, launching what would be a 70-year World Series drought for the Cubs that would finally end, gloriously, in 2016.
# # #
Get your Jewish Baseball News updates via e-mail