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Browsing Posts tagged Hank Greenberg

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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The 16 Jewish Cubs

The first Jewish Cub

The first Jewish Cub

By Scott Barancik, Editor

On September 5, 1927, Lefty Weinert tossed a 6-1, complete-game win over the St. Louis Cardinals in the first game of a doubleheader at Wrigley Field, yielding 5 hits and no earned runs.

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.

Another lengthy dry spell would follow. The next Jewish Cub didn’t appear until September 7, 1942, when 23-year-old third baseman Cy Block went 2-for-4 with an RBI double in his Major League debut.

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.

 

Jewish Cubs

  1. Ryan Kalish, OF (2014, 2016)
  2. Scott Feldman, P (2013)
  3. John Grabow, P (2009-11)
  4. Sam Fuld, CF (2007, 2009-10)
  5. Jason Marquis, P (2007-08)
  6. Adam Greenberg, CF (2005)
  7. Andrew Lorraine, P (1999-2000)
  8. Jose J. Bautista, P (1993-94)
  9. Ken Holtzman, P (1965-71, 1978-79)
  10. Dave A. Roberts, P (1977-78)
  11. Steve Stone, P (1974-76)
  12. Art Shamsky, 1B (1972)
  13. Ed Mayer, P (1957-58)
  14. Hy Cohen, P (1955)
  15. Cy Block, 3B (1942, 1945-46)
  16. 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.

A partial box score from <a href=

Lefty Weinert's Chicago Cub debut on September 5, 1927 (click for full box score)" width="300" height="209" srcset="http://www.jewishbaseballnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/weinert-box-300x209.jpg 300w, http://www.jewishbaseballnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/weinert-box.jpg 406w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" /> A partial box score from Lefty Weinert’s Chicago Cub debut on September 5, 1927 (click image for full box score)

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.

Ryan Kalish played for the Cubs in 2014 and 2016

Ryan Kalish played for the Cubs in 2014 and 2016

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.

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By Scott Barancik, Editor

A total of 146 seasons have passed since Lip Pike became the first Jewish player to homer. Now, we have a new milestone to celebrate.

Joc Pederson‘s game-tying, 2-run blast last night was the 113th Jewish home run of the season, tying the mark set in 2012. Pederson’s home run, his 25th of the year, left his bat at a blistering 110.6 mph, tops in the MLB for the night.

Joc Pederson hits record-tying 113th Jewish HR of 2016

Joc Pederson hits record-tying 113th Jewish HR of 2016

Less than half an hour later, Ian Kinsler crushed a 2-run, go-ahead shot for the record-breaking 114th round-tripper of the year. Kinsler’s 27th home run traveled 410 feet to left-center and left him one behind Lou Whitaker (28) on Detroit’s all-time list of most HRs in a season by a second baseman. The 3rd-inning blast almost didn’t count: despite heavy rain, umpires allowed the Tigers and Cleveland to complete the 5th inning before calling a delay and, eventually, the game.

Ian Kinsler hits 114th Jewish HR of 2016 to break season record

Ian Kinsler hits 114th Jewish HR of 2016 to break season record

Both players likely were unaware they were making history. Earlier this month, Alex Bregman smashed the 3,000th Jewish home run in Major League history.

Although rookie Lip Pike led the National Association with four home runs in 1871, his rookie season with the Troy Haymakers, Jewish players and home runs have not always been so prolific.

In 49 of the past 146 season, Jewish players did not hit a single dinger. During the five seasons from 1986 to 1990, in fact, there was not a single Jewish at-bat.

Aside from Pike, the concept of a Jewish power hitter is, historically speaking, a relatively new one. No Jewish player had hit even 10 HRs in a season until a Detroit Tigers rookie named Hank Greenberg stroked 12 in 1933. This helps explain why Jewish fans went so crazy over Greenberg, who went on to hit a then-N.L. record 58 home runs in 1938, two short of Babe Ruth’s then-Major League record of 60.

By comparison, today is a golden age for Jewish baseball fans. Three players have 25 or more home runs — Ryan Braun (30), Ian Kinsler (27), and Joc Pederson (25) — an accomplishment matched only once before, in 2010.

Jewish HRs by season

Year
AB
HR
Total*107,3153,012
199000
198900
198800
198700
198600
189940
188740
190290
1881180
1985220
1901260
1903270
1920310
1882410
1919470
1991510
1910560
1908580
1927740
1895740
1916760
1918810
1909910
1911920
1907950
1906990
19051110
19041180
19641640
19762380
18753120
19174330
190000
189800
189700
189600
189400
189300
189200
189100
189000
188900
188800
188600
188500
188400
188300
188000
187900
1984631
19572041
18742341
19132491
18762821
18784191
19652372
19252862
19831323
19812233
19593023
19364903
19216373
18711344
19582254
18772664
18732854
19633154
19243554
19305984
19426804
19144225
19266145
19297015
19239495
19622576
19822636
19933116
19125246
18722857
19154367
19614817
19225767
19924248
19318988
19603789
19773959
19435359
19757149
19287579
19321,1609
199447110
194180911
194469913
196775213
195669516
197887518
19331,26118
198085119
199596521
19741,22121
196650622
197979323
194955726
19961,32226
19341,18927
194857930
19681,12231
19731,70534
19551,06035
19711,33536
19451,34837
194789739
19701,48540
20031,80540
19351,28741
20051,64141
19971,71845
20132,00647
19691,43750
19981,52750
19461,30454
19401,47154
19721,90754
20062,41455
19541,61456
20142,29556
19391,87457
20001,99160
19521,87962
20042,04563
19371,95764
19501,19465
20021,86866
19511,90269
20011,70973
19531,71077
20102,30978
19382,45681
20152,82781
20072,44484
20112,16294
20082,223100
20092,277101
19992,089102
20122,598113
2016*2,730114
* Through games played 9/28/2016
Note: The 3,012 Jewish home runs hit through 9/28/2016 were slugged by these Major League players. The tally includes home runs hit by David Newhan before 2000, when he began identifying as a Messianic Jew. It excludes home runs hit by Jim Gaudet, who converted to Judaism after his playing career ended.
Source: JewishBaseballNews.com



As great a season as Jewish players are having collectively, 2016 isn’t close to the most prodigious in terms of home-run frequency.

Through games played 9/28/2016, Jewish players are homering once every 23.95 at-bats, or 13th-best on the home-run frequency chart. The best year came way back in 1950, when Jewish players such as Al Rosen (37 HRs) and Sid Gordon (27 HRs) homered a total of once every 18.37 at-bats.

Jewish home-run frequency, by season

Year
AB/HR
Total*35.63
195018.37
194819.30
199920.48
194921.42
195322.21
200822.23
200922.54
201222.99
196623.00
194723.00
201123.00
200123.41
2016*23.95
194624.15
194027.24
195127.57
200228.30
196928.74
195428.82
200729.10
201029.60
195530.29
195230.31
193830.32
199830.54
193730.58
193531.39
200432.46
193932.88
200033.18
187133.50
197934.48
201534.90
197235.31
196836.19
194536.43
197137.08
197037.13
199738.18
200540.02
187240.71
201440.98
196042.00
201342.68
196242.83
195643.44
198243.83
197743.89
200643.89
198344.00
193444.04
198044.79
200345.13
199545.95
199447.10
197848.61
197350.15
199650.85
199351.83
199253.00
194453.77
195856.25
196757.85
197458.14
194359.44
191562.29
198463.00
187766.50
196168.71
193370.06
187371.25
194173.55
198174.33
196378.75
197579.33
192282.29
192884.11
191484.40
191287.33
192488.75
1959100.67
1931112.25
1965118.50
1926122.80
1932128.89
1929140.20
1925143.00
1930149.50
1936163.33
1942170.00
1923189.80
1957204.00
1921212.33
1874234.00
1913249.00
1876282.00
1878419.00
1990na
1989na
1988na
1987na
1986na
1899na
1887na
1902na
1881na
1985na
1901na
1903na
1920na
1882na
1919na
1991na
1910na
1908na
1927na
1895na
1916na
1918na
1909na
1911na
1907na
1906na
1905na
1904na
1964na
1976na
1875na
1917na
1900na
1898na
1897na
1896na
1894na
1893na
1892na
1891na
1890na
1889na
1888na
1886na
1885na
1884na
1883na
1880na
1879na
* Through games played 9/28/2016
Source: JewishBaseballNews.com

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kinsler 200th hr 7-3-2016xxxx
By Scott Barancik, Editor

Detroit 2B Ian Kinsler crushed his 200th career home run today in a 5-1 win over the Rays.

The two-run shot, his second in two days, came off P Danny Farquhar in the 9th inning and struck the catwalk high above Tampa Bay’s Tropicana Field.

Kinsler is the fifth Jewish player to reach the 200-homer threshold. He joins Hank Greenberg (331 HRs), Shawn Green (328), Ryan Braun (268), and Sid Gordon (202). Kinsler passed Al Rosen (192) earlier this season.

Kinsler’s 200th came in his 1,460th MLB game. By comparison, Greenberg reached 200 HRs in his 860th game, Braun in his 867th, Green in his 1,084th, and Gordon in his 1,458th. All four other players hit multiple homers on the day they reached 200: Green hit a record-tying four round-trippers (May 23, 2002), Greenberg hit two (September 7, 1939), Braun hit two (September 16, 2012) and Gordon hit two (August 14, 1955) — one each in both games of a double-header.

It’s not the only milestone Kinsler reached today. According to MLB.com, he now is one of only three active players — and 40 total in MLB history — with 200 home runs, 1,000 runs scored, 1,600 hits and 200 stolen bases. The other active players are Alex Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran.

Kinsler is enjoying an unexpected power surge this season. Since peaking at 32 home runs in 2011, the 34-year-old Arizona native has yet to hit 20 again. With 16 so far in 2016, however, he already has exceeded his season totals from 2013 (13 HRs) and 2015 (11) and is on pace to breach 30.

Kinsler’s home run was just one of his contribution’s to today’s win over the Rays. With Detroit down 1-0 in the top of the 8th inning, the Arizona State alum doubled and later daringly scored from second base on an attempted double-play. “That got us going, really,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus told MLB.com. “It was great heads-up baserunning, aggressive baserunning.”

The 11th-year player also shone in the field, making a slick backhanded stop and toss to retire Curt Casali in the 3rd inning.

Ausmus summed up Kinsler’s attitude thusly. “He definitely plays with an edge, in a good way. He wants to beat the other team. It’s almost as if he’s a little bit mad at the other team.”

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By Scott Barancik, editor

Now here’s something you don’t see very often: two Jewish players, both centerfielders, smacking 2 HRs apiece on the same day.

Dodgers phenom Joc Pederson and Toronto’s Kevin Pillar accomplished the rare feat Tuesday night. Pederson hit the more prodigious bombs, launching a 477-foot monster in Game 1 of a doubleheader against Colorado and a 472-foot shot in Game 2.

The 23-year-old Palo Alto native added his first Major League triple and drove in 4 RBIs overall. He has homered in 4 straight games and is tied for second in the N.L. with 16 round-trippers.

Pillar was the bigger surprise. Entering Game 2 of a doubleheader against the Nations with just 2 HRs in nearly 200 at-bats this season, the 26-year-old launched a solo shot in the 2nd inning and a 3-run shot in the 6th that plated teammate Danny Valencia, who contributed a double and a sacrifice fly Tuesday. Pillar didn’t his 2nd HR of 2015 until May 30.

(MLB.com)

(MLB.com)

Ryan Braun owns the record for HRs by a Jewish rookie, with 34 in 2007, and was named N.L. Rookie of the Year.  All-time Jewish home run leader Hank Greenberg hit 12 his rookie year (1933), and runner-up Shawn Green hit 15 in his (1995).

The all-time N.L. rookie record of 38 HRs is shared by Baltimore’s Frank Robinson (1955) and the Boston Braves’ Wally Berger (1930). With 16 HRs in the Dodgers’ first 52 games this season, Pederson is on pace to hit 50.

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AL CLARK book coverBy Scott Barancik, Editor

From 1976 until MLB officials told him “You’re out!” in 2001, Al Clark was one of baseball’s most respected umpires, and among very few who were Jewish.

In a new memoir written with Dan Schlossberg, the 66-year-old Clark recalls the highlights and lowlights of his life in and out of baseball, from seeing Bucky Dent’s playoff home run and Nolan Ryan’s 300th win at field level to going to jail after a memorabilia scandal.

The son of a sportswriter, Clark also reflects on things Jewish: how blowing the shofar on the High Holidays prepared him for life on the diamond; his admiration for Shawn Green (and contempt for Bud Selig); and anti-Semitism he faced while umpiring in the minors.

The following excerpt is reprinted from Called Out But Safe: a Baseball Umpire’s Journey, published by University of Nebraska Press on May 1, 2014. Please note that while Jewish Baseball News received no compensation for this coverage, the website will receive a small commission for any books purchased via our Amazon link.

—————————

Chapter 8 – The Yiddishe Umpire

When I was growing up in New Jersey, Jewish boys became doctors, lawyers, or accountants – certainly not professional umpires. I’m proud that I was able to change that.

Because of my career choice, my name is actually the answer to two Trivial Pursuit questions, in the sports edition. One is, “Who was the only person in professional sports who wore his name on his hat?” And the other is “Who was the first and only Jewish umpire in American League history? “

There have been National League umpires who were Jewish — Dolly Stark, Stan Landes, Al Forman, to name three. Later, Paul Schreiber served in both leagues after the staffs were combined. But I was the first and only Jewish American League umpire.

People were surprised when they found out I was a Yid. They said to me, “Geez, that’s not a profession for a Jewish boy, an umpire?” And they’d say umpiring is difficult and getting to the big leagues even more so, adding that if it were easy, more Jews would’ve tried.

I’m very proud I’m Jewish. I was bar mitzvahed in Ahavath Israel, an Orthodox synagogue in Trenton, New Jersey, in a January that had a lot of snow. I even learned to blow the shofar for the high holidays.

My rabbi, Solomon Poll, took religion very seriously and was a very good teacher. Before the High Holy Days, he would bring out the shofar and show all the kids how to blow it. For some reason, maybe I was full of hot air even then, I could put the shofar on the side of my mouth and could hold the ram’s horn. I could blow the shofar and make it have a true sound.

It’s not easy but I didn’t think it was that tough either. The rabbi took a liking to the way I could blow the shofar and assigned me to do it in synagogue during the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur holidays. I was a rookie who came in cold. It’s a good thing the rabbi let me take the shofar home; I did a lot of practicing.

When the holidays finally arrived, I was more skittish than a cat in a room full of rockers. I was more nervous than I ever was on a baseball diamond – probably because I was so young and inexperienced.

But my grandparents couldn’t have been more proud. Their grandson, little Alan, was blowing the shofar on the High Holy Days. It was kind of cool.

Blowing the shofar was not only a good experience but helped make me comfortable years later. I was never nervous in front of people or nervous about public speaking. And isn’t public speaking supposed to be one of the most nerve-wracking things people do?

By the time I walked onto a big-league baseball diamond, I had years of training and experience in dealing with crowds.

I probably could have used shofar spring training but went to Yankee spring training instead. I grew up listening to Mel Allen broadcast Yankees games. We knew Mel was Jewish and came from Alabama; his real name was Mel Israel.

Religion wasn’t a big deal for me in the big leagues. I never forgot that I was Jewish. All I did was work hard.

With the exception of a handful of players, a few owners, and lots of writers – who wanted to be part of the game but probably weren’t good enough to play – baseball is primarily a world of non-Jewish people. The fact that I am Jewish never came into play, although some people did know about it.

Some of the players today don’t have a feeling of the history of the game and feel like major league baseball wasn’t important until they arrived. They don’t know the history. There are some African-American players today who don’t have a grasp on who Jackie Robinson was and what he did, nor Henry Aaron or Willie Mays. That’s a shame. They are cheating themselves of the great multi-ethnic foundation of our game.

There weren’t too many Jewish players in baseball history, but the ones who were there knew who Hank Greenberg was, what he did, and how he did it. And Moe Berg.

What a great story Berg was, whether you’re Jewish or not. He was a covert operative for the United States during World War II. Can a baseball story get any better than a player being a spy?

One story concerning Berg and Babe Ruth is priceless. Berg was a very intelligent man. He spoke multiple languages. After the 1934 season, players took a barnstorming trip to Japan for an exhibition tour. They didn’t fly in those years but took a cruise ship. They left from Los Angeles. The Babe asked Moe if he knew Japanese. Moe indicated he did not. After arriving, Ruth saw Berg speaking to their Japanese greeters in fluent Japanese.

After greetings and salutations, Babe went approached Berg and said, “Moe, you lied to me. Two weeks ago, I asked you if you knew Japanese and you said no.” Berg just looked at him and said, “Babe, that was ten days ago.” On the voyage, Berg learned Japanese.

Stories like that are inherent in our history—and when I say “our history,” the baseball lineage history. Players today should know more about that. The history of our game is what makes our game the greatest game in the world.

Later in life, I realized how important Moe Berg was; I read the book The Catcher Was a Spy. I was proud to know that people in our game were such tremendous patriots – not only Berg but many other players who served during WW II: Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Bob Feller, Hank Greenberg, and others who selflessly gave of themselves to our country. They are to be admired and honored forever.

I never met Greenberg. I know he was Jewish and that bit of ethno-centrism, that we were both Jewish, made me proud Jews can excel in our national game.

Like Greenberg, Sandy Koufax retired long before I began my own baseball career. But I did meet Sandy a number of times. He is a gentleman above all, a quiet man. He gave of himself very sparingly but when he did, he was all in. He talked to pitchers whenever the situation warranted. He held nothing back once he was committed.

When I was a kid, I met Berg, a friend of my next-door neighbor John “Sparrow” Moran [Flip’s dad]. I even remember playing catch with him in my backyard. I do remember that Berg took the train with Sparrow Moran from Princeton to New York most days and I remember he was a catcher. Moran was a conductor on the now-defunct Pennsylvania Railroad.

My Jewish pride stems from the fact that these players were as good as they were AND we shared a heritage. Greenberg, Koufax, Al Rosen, and Ryan Braun won Most Valuable Player awards while Koufax and Steve Stone, along with half-Jew Jim Palmer, won Cy Young Awards.

Among today’s players, Shawn Green carved his own niche in baseball history, hitting four home runs, a double, and a single in one game. That gave him 19 total bases, one more than Joe Adcock, who hit four home runs and a double for the Milwaukee Braves against the Brooklyn Dodgers in the ‘50s.

I was always a Shawn Green fan. He came to the big leagues as a Toronto Blue Jay. I knew he was Jewish and did go out of my way to be a little nice to him, to make him feel welcome to the big leagues. It was because of the kindred spirit that we all kind of have.

I’m glad he did well but I never would do anything to help. There was one American League pitcher who shall remain nameless. He had a very Jewish name. We were in the dugout one day, before a game when he came to me and said, “Hi, Al.” I said, “How you doing?” He said, “You know, it’s good to see you. I hear that you’re Jewish.” I said, “Yeah, I am.” He said, “You know, I am too.” I said, “Yeah, it’s pretty obvious.” He said, “I’d like to stay up in the big leagues, and any time you’re back there, calling balls and strikes, would you give me a little help? I’d really appreciate it.”

I curtly and strongly told him that was not the way it was going to be. I told him to rest assured that this conversation will never be repeated, not to any other umpires or to anyone else. Thank goodness, baseball’s umpires do not think of anything except the merits of play.

I don’t think that guys knew I was Jewish. Or cared. Green knew because I told him. Rod Carew knew. Jesse Levis knew. And a few others.

1-Al Clark cartoon

There was one September game in Milwaukee when Green was batting, Levis was catching for the Brewers, and I was the home-plate umpire. It was almost Rosh Hashanah. We wished each other a Happy New Year when we were together at home plate.

Shawn was a good guy. After he had established himself as a star, he came to me once between innings of a game and said, “Listen, anytime you need anything, you know, autographs or bats or balls or anything like that for any charity events, you make sure you call me first.” I thought that was very nice of him.

There are so few Jews in baseball that there’s a fraternity or a family that supersedes baseball. Maybe it’s the heritage we’ve all shared. It’s certainly not anything overt; it’s just a feeling.

I’ve never been to Israel but my dad was there. He went over on a Jewish Times trip.

He used to write for that publication so they took him over there and he had a great time. There was a Jewish magazine convention in Jerusalem he attended.

Long after my career ended, a six-team professional league was founded in Israel. Dan Duquette, now general manager of the Baltimore Orioles, was the American contact and a number of Jewish players – Ron Blomberg, Ken Holtzman, and Art Shamsky – were involved as managers. Blomberg’s team won the championship. Unfortunately, the Israel Baseball League (IBL) lasted just one season, 2007.

I tried to become a consultant to that league, helping their umpires, but it never materialized. I would’ve loved going over and doing some clinics and working with the umpires in Israel.

I never experienced any overt anti-Semitism in the major leagues but had three shaky incidents back in the minors.

My partner Ted Hendry and I were walking out of the ballpark in Indianapolis after the Indians played a game against the Iowa Oaks. When Ted and I were walking to our car an hour after the ballgame, there weren’t a lot of people around. Denny McLain, once a 30-game winner for the Tigers who was back in the minors and on his way out of the game, and Ray Busse, a shortstop who had a cup of coffee in the big leagues, were both on the Iowa roster. Iowa had lost that night and I had worked home plate. Unprovoked by anything, they both started verbally attacking me, “You kike son of a bitch. What the fuck is a Jew doing in our game? You don’t deserve to be here. Go the fuck home, you kike motherfucker.” The players both thought their rant was quite funny but neither Ted or I did.

It shook us up tremendously. Ted and I went back to our hotel and called Joe Ryan, then president of the American Association. He was appalled. Ryan called the Iowa general manager and the two guys were suspended that night. When Joe Sparks, the Iowa manager, came out to home plate the next day, he couldn’t have apologized more. He couldn’t have been more professional. And it was certainly appreciated. I’m sure the news of that evening’s after-game activity made its way around the country quite quickly.

Another anti-Semitic incident occurred in 1974, two seasons before I reached the majors. Once again, Hendry and I were together. That time, we were sitting in a restaurant in Des Moines with former National League (and future Hall of Fame) umpire Al Barlick. He was working as an NL umpire supervisor and scout.

We were just talking when the conversation turned to minorities in baseball when Barlick proclaimed, “I’ll tell you one thing. As long as I’m alive, there will never be another fuckin’ Jew umpire in my league.”

I looked him straight in the eye and just as boldly proclaimed, “I’m Jewish.” I then excused myself, got up from the table, and left. Fortunately, I never saw him again.

I felt the same way about John (Red) Davis, a career minor-league manager who was running the Oklahoma City ballclub during the 1975 season. We had run-ins previously but certainly nothing out of the ordinary. He would voice his displeasure with my umpiring ability. I would allow him his argument, then usually eject him from that day’s contest. Just no big deal.

During one particular evening, a call went against the Oklahoma City club. Davis stormed out of the dugout and headed right towards me. Instead of talking or yelling about the play, his first words were, “You’re nothing but a fucking Hitler.” I ejected him immediately, then walked away, leaving him to argue with no one. He finally left the field and we finished the game.

The next day, Davis said to my partner, Jerry Young, “Why did Clark run me so fast last night?”

All I did was call him ‘a fucking Hitler.’” Young started to laugh uncontrollably while on the field, much to Davis’ dismay. After regaining his composure, Young told Davis I was in fact Jewish.

It took Davis another two months but eventually he did apologize and said, “That kind of shit is out of bounds.”

There aren’t many Jews in baseball, now or when I was active, but there certainly was a kindred spirit, a sharing of relationship, among us. I’m not even talking about anti-Semitism, which often lies right under the surface but doesn’t become overt.

I worked with a lot of umpires. One thing we did in clubhouses and locker rooms was tease each other unmercifully. Whether it was race, religion, politics, cleanliness, wives, nothing was off limits. With my short, squat physique, my religion, and my multiple marriages, I was an obvious target. But it was good, clean fun.

However, if anyone attacked any of us outside of our clubhouse, we would circle the wagons and defend each other always. We were and are family.

I certainly wasn’t the only Jewish major-leaguer: in addition to media members and players, Bud Selig, Jerry Reinsdorf, Fred Wilpon, Bob Lurie, Ted Lerner, Jeffrey Loria, Theo Epstein, and Stan Kasten are Jews on the ownership side.

Probably the most prominent Jew in baseball today is Selig, who became Commissioner in 1998. Except for Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, he served longer in that position than anyone. But I’m not one of his fans. He did something very phony early in my career and I never trusted him after that.

Long before there was any talk of him becoming Commissioner, Selig was the owner of the Milwaukee Brewers. Before a game in Milwaukee, it rained. As a result, the dugout steps were wet and slippery.

I was working with Lou DiMuro. He slipped going up the steps, hit his back, and hurt himself so badly that he had to be hospitalized. An ambulance came onto the field and transported him to a local hospital.

I personally went to Selig’s office after the game for an update on Lou’s condition and to thank him for caring. Little did I know that all he really cared about was getting Lou off the field and and getting on with the game. He may have said the right words, but his actions portrayed something totally different. And ever that happened, I was skeptical of him.

The next day, nobody from the Brewers organization asked about Lou’s injury or well-being. Now this wasn’t necessarily Selig but the Brewers brass did say, “How come you guys only have three umpires today? Why didn’t you bring another umpire to work?”

Once again, the only time they cared about the umpires was five minutes before the game, then they said, “Geez, where the hell are the umpires?” I never forgot that about Selig, about him not caring about Lou DiMuro.

I’m sure that as Commissioner, for the game, and for the owners, he’s done a good job. Some of his innovations have proven to be popular, and the newest one (the second wild-card) will prove to be tremendously profitable for the owners.

I’m not sure Selig did a great job for the umpires. I think he let his director of labor relations handle us. I don’t know that for a fact. I don’t know how much involvement he had. I do know that if he ever came into our umpires’ room, it was only for a photo opportunity. He never came in and asked how our families were, never cared about us on a personal basis. And we represented him. I always thought that was kind of squirrely.

There are only a handful of Jews active anywhere in our game and only one Jewish commissioner in baseball history. I’d like to be proud of my lantzmen but that’s not always possible. For me, that’s a great disappointment.

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Ben Guez congratulates teammate Ian Kinsler after scoring on his 5th-inning home run (Carlos Osorio, AP)

By Scott Barancik, editor

Detroit’s love affair with the late Hank Greenberg may never be matched. But for a day at least, the Tigers again were powered by Jews.

Playing under newly-minted manager Brad Ausmus, Detroit crushed the Blue Jays 18-4 thanks partly to contributions from two Jewish players.

Three-time All-Star Ian Kinsler led the way, going 2-for-3 with a three-run homer, a double, and two walks. Obtained from Texas during the off-season, Kinsler is hitting .333 with 3 HRs, 8 RBIs, a .442 on-base percentage, and an impressive 1.136 OPS.

The big surprise Tuesday was the contribution of outfielder Ben Guez, a last-minute call-up from the Tigers’ minor-league camp who filled- in for injured starter Rajaj Davis. The 27-year-old Guez , who hasn’t played a day of regular-season ball in the Majors, reached base all six times he came to the plate, finishing the day 3-for-3 with 2 doubles, 3 walks, 1 RBI, and 3 runs scored.

Guez was on base when Kinsler homered in the 5th inning.

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By Scott Barancik/Jewish Baseball News

The long wait to see which players will represent Israel at World Baseball Classic qualifiers this week is over.

Team Israel’s 28-man roster (see below) includes two former Major Leaguers (player/coaches Shawn Green and Gabe Kapler), three Israelis, and 23 minor-leaguers. Because the MLB season is still underway, no current Major Leaguers are on the roster. Also missing are a number of Triple-A and even Double-A players whose teams wanted them around as potential call-ups later this month.

The double-elimination tournament takes place Sept. 19-23 in Jupiter, Fla., and pits Israel against teams from France, Spain, and South Africa. Whoever prevails will earn a spot in the main World Basic Classic competition, in November 2013. If Israel wins, the team it fields in 2013 likely will include a number of Major Leaguers (such as Kevin Youkilis, who already has committed to play) and Triple-A players.

Additional commentary on this week’s roster is shown below the table.

Team Israel: Roster for the WBC qualifying tourney
No.
Player
Pos.
Age
Hometown
Minor-league team
Parent club
27COLVIN, DavidRHP23Mill Valley, CAClinton LumberKings (A)Seattle Mariners
34KAPLAN, JeffRHP27Dana Point, CABinghamton Mets (AA)New York Mets
36KOPP, DavidRHP26Coral Springs, FLErie SeaWolves (AA)Detroit Tigers
16LEICHMAN, AlonRHP23Kibbutz Gezer, IsraelN.A.N.A.
22LIPETZ, ShlomoRHP33Tel Aviv, IsraelN.A.N.A.
10LORIN, BrettRHP25Laguna Niguel, CAMobile Bay Bears (AA)Arizona Diamondbacks
21PERLMAN, MaxRHP24Jupiter, FLStockton Ports (A+)Oakland A's
(-)ROTHEM, DanRHP35Tel Aviv, IsraelN.A.N.A.
26SCHUMER, JustinRHP24Houston, TXSan Jose Giants (A+)San Francisco Giants
28ZEID, JoshRHP25New Haven, CTCorpus Christi Hooks (AA)Houston Astros
14BERGER, EricLHP26Goldsboro, NCColumbus Clippers (AAA)Cleveland Indians
35BLEIER, RichardLHP25Davie, FLFrisco Roughriders (AA)Texas Rangers
17GOULD, JeremyLHP24Buffalo Grove, ILSavannah Sand Gnats (A)New York Mets
29URLAUB, JeffLHP25Scottsdale, AZStockton Ports (A+)Oakland A's
37CUTLER, CharlieC26San Fransico, CAAltoona Curve (AA)Pittsburgh Pirates
3MARDER, JackC/IF22Calabasas, CAHigh Desert Mavericks (A+)Seattle Mariners
19RICKLES, NickC22Ft. Lauderdale, FLBurlington Bees (A+)Oakland A's
6DECKER, Cody1B25Santa Monica, CASan Antonio Missions (AA)San Diego Padres
25FREIMAN, Nate1B25Wellesley, MASan Antonio Missions (AA)San Diego Padres
9ORLOFF, Ben2B25Simi Valley, CACorpus Christi Hooks (AA)Houston Astros
2SATIN, Josh2B27Hidden Hills, CABuffalo Bisons (AAA)New York Mets
33HAERTHER, Casey3B24West Hills, CAArkansas Travelers (AA)Los Angeles Angels
7LEMMERMAN, JakeSS23Coronoa del Mar, CAChattanooga Lookouts (AA)Los Angeles Dodgers
15GREEN, ShawnOF39Des Plaines, ILN.A.N.A.
24GUEZ, BenOF25Houston, TXToledo Mud Hens (AAA)Detroit Tigers
18KAPLER, GabeOF37Hollywood, CAN.A.N.A.
31PEDERSON, JocOF20Palo Ato, CARancho Cucamonga Quakes (A+)Los Angeles Dodgers
23WIDLANSKY, RobbieOF/3B27Plantation, FLBowie Baysox (AA)Baltimore Orioles

Here are some other facts and observations on Team Israel’s roster for the qualifiers:

  • Of the 23 minor leaguers on the roster, three ended the 2012 season with a Triple-A team, 12 at the Double-A level, six at A-advanced, and two with a Single-A team.
  • Adam Greenberg, a former Major Leaguer who is trying to mount a comeback, was invited to Jupiter for tryouts but is not on the roster.
  • Josh Satin, who played briefly for the New York Mets in 2011 and 2012, is the only player with MLB experience.
  • The youngest player on the roster is 20-year-old outfielder Joc Pederson, who is ranked the Los Angeles Dodgers’ No. 3 prospect by MLB.com. The oldest player is 39-year-old Shawn Green, whose 15-year MLB career included five seasons with the Dodgers and ended with the New York Mets in 2007. Green’s 328 career HRs are second only to Hank Greenberg’s 331 among Jewish ballplayers.
  • Israeli player Alon Leichman plays for Cypress College, a community college in California.
  • During the qualifiers for the 2012 European Championship, Israeli pitcher Shlomo Lipetz was masterful, giving up just one earned run over 16-and-a-third innings while striking out 18 and walking three.
  • Three players on Team Israel are 6-foot-7-inches tall: pitchers Brett Lorin and Max Perlman, and 1B Nate Freiman. At 5-foot-8-inches, Alon Leichman is the shortest.
  • Nate Freiman and Cody Decker, teammates on the San Antonio Missions (AA), finished 2nd and 3rd in HRs this season among Texas League players.

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Braun hits the first of 3 HRs (Denis Poroy/Getty Images)

By Scott Barancik/Jewish Baseball News

When Ryan Braun smashed three HRs against the San Diego Padres on Monday night (see video), Jewish baseball fans everywhere celebrated.

Here are a few more reasons to be proud:

  • The Milwaukee Brewers right fielder is just the fifth Jewish player since 1918 to homer 3 or more times in a 9-inning game, and the first to do so in nearly 10 years.

Players with 3+ HRs in a 9-inning game, since 1918

Name
Team
Date
HRs
Notes
Ryan BraunMilwaukee Brewers4/30/20123Went 4-for-5 with a triple, 6 RBIs, and 15 total bases
Mike LieberthalPhiladelphia Phillies8/10/20023Went 4-for-5 with a single and 4 RBIs
Shawn GreenLos Angeles Dodgers5/23/20024Went 6-for-6 with a single, double, 7 RBIs, and 19 total bases
Shawn GreenLos Angeles Dodgers8/15/20013Went 3-for-5 with 7 RBIs
Mike EpsteinWashington Senators5/16/19693Went 3-for-4 with 4 RBIs
Al RosenCleveland Indians4/29/19523Went 4-6 with a single, walk, and 7 RBIs
  • Hank Greenberg, who leads all Jewish players with 331 career HRs, never had a 3-HR game. He did hit two HRs in a game 35 times.
  • Thanks to an added triple Monday night, Braun finished with 15 total bases. The last time a major-leaguer had 15 or more total bases in a 9-inning game? Nearly 8 years ago, when Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals hit 3 HRs, a double, and a single against the very same San Diego Padres (7/20/2004).
  • Monday night’s game took place in a venue — San Diego’s Petco Park — that is unfriendly to HRs, though much more so to lefties than righties. As this article points out, the Padres as a team hit just 6 HRs in their first 14 home games this season. Braun matched half that number in just one game. (Thanks to Jewish Baseball News contributor Jack W. for the tip.)
  • Monday’s performance vaulted Braun into a tie for 2nd-most HRs in the National League this season, behind Matt Kemp’s 12 dingers. The Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder finished 2nd to Braun in last year’s N.L. MVP vote.

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Good news Monday

By Scott Barancik/Jewish Baseball News

Mondays can be tough on the soul. So have some smiles on us:

  • Washington Nationals prospect Danny Rosenbaum is off to another good start this season. A starting pitcher with the Harrisburg Senators (AA), the 24-year-old lefty is 2-0 with a 1.25 ERA. Not bad, even for a player whose worst season ERA so far was 2.52, in 2011. And check this out: through three starts in 2012, Rosenbaum has struck out 16 but walked none.
  • Our friends at Kaplan’s Korner recently posted this list of Jewish baseball records that may soon fall. A neat example: with a lifetime batting average of .312, Milwaukee Brewers LF Ryan Braun is just one percentage point behind career leader Hank Greenberg.
  • By his senior year in college, Garrett Wittels had experienced the polar opposites of media fame and infamy. A 56-game hitting streak during his junior year at Florida International University brought him international attention, but so too did a subsequent rape arrest. Although the charge eventually was dropped and his accusers exposed as profiteers, the story did a number on the infielder’s reputation, baseball prospects (he went undrafted), and confidence. Now a 21-year-old St. Louis Cardinals prospect, Wittels is struggling to prop his 2012 batting average above .200. But ESPN The Magazine’s detailed account of his inner and outer trials reveals a deeply spiritual young man who deserves a second chance.
  • Nothing goes together better than Jews and rugby, which is why the Boston Maccabi Rugby Football Club is so intriguing. I mean, how many rugby teams out there profess “an abiding commitment to the timeless Jewish values of tikkun olam and tzedakah “?
Have any good news about Jewish athletes and teams? E-mail them to sbarancik@jewishbaseballnews.com.

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