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Yom Kippur and Sandy Koufax









All Jewish Baseball Team

A Christian friend bet me a few years ago that I couldn't name an all Jewish major league baseball team. I was able to name a Jewish ball player for every position except shortstop, so I lost the bet. But the research I set in motion to find a Jewish shortstop has, two years later, paid off. I now have that Jewish shortstop and a complete Jewish team.

I have Hank Greenberg, the Detroit slugger who nearly broke Babe Ruth's record and experienced a lot of anti-Semitism because of it, on first base.

Joe Gordon, the Yankee, is on second base. Prejudice kept a lot of "closet" Jews from admitting their heritage. Joe was one of them. 

On third base is Al Rosen of the Cleveland Indians who later became their manager.

Behind the plate we have Mike Lieberthal of the Phillies, Norm Sherry for the Dodgers, Jessie Levis for the Brewers and Jeff Newman from Oakland. Then there is Moe Berg, a mediocre catcher who played for the Boston Red Sox. Moe worked for the CIA during World War II, obtained a Ph.D. from Columbia and spoke eight languages. But he couldn't hit in any of those languages so he had to give up baseball.

The outfield is well covered with Shawn Green, currently playing for the Dodgers; Art Shamsky from the Mets once hit three home runs in one game.

The pitching staff is headed by Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax, the best left handed pitcher in baseball, who played for the Dodgers. Sandy had to pass up a World Series game because it was Rosh Hashanah, and he wouldn't play on Yom Kippur either. Johnny Klippstein, Bo Belinsky, Larry Sherry and Ken Holtzman were also pitchers. Steve Stone was the 1980 Cy Young winner.

And Ron Blomberg was the first designated hitter in baseball. So I had every position covered except shortstop, and, for the last two years, I have involved a lot of gentiles in helping me search for one. A university colleague, Dr. Richard Kiekbusch is a baseball enthusiast who knew Cappy Gagnon, former president of the Society for

Baseball Research. Cappy was able to give us most of the names above but couldn't come up with a shortstop. But my friend didn't give up. With the perseverance of a true scholar, he contacted another professor he knew, Mike Frawley, who took the search for a Jewish shortstop as a personal challenge. It was not an easy task since, as Frawley points out "Most of Latin America [where many shortstops come from] is Catholic." But, one day, Frawley was browsing in Borders Bookstore, and, in the religion section, he came upon the book "Who's Who in Jewish History" which had an entire section devoted to "Jewish Sports Greats." Among the usual names like Koufax and Greenberg, was a list of names "worthy of inclusion." Frawley continued his reportorial digging by checking each of those names out on his computer and came up with "our guy."

So who is it already? His name is Charles "Buddy" Meyer, and he played for the Washington Senators from 1925 to 1941. He won the American League batting championship in 1935. In 1938, Meyer was fourth in the voting for the American League's Most Valuable Player. The MVP that year was Hank Greenberg.

Could this all-Jewish team beat an all-star Gentile team made up of the likes of Babe Ruth, Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio? Sure, as long as Koufax is pitching and it's not Yom Kippur.

revised 5 Nissan 5774 - 5 April 2014
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