In a new book (which I reviewed in yesterday’s New York Times Book Review, along with three other baseball books), recently retired Jewish outfielder Shawn Green explains how his Eastern spirituality, a sort of Zen 101, helped his hitting. His Judaism doesn’t play a major role in his book or (one gathers) in his life, but he does allude to how it was highlighted, complete with a Sports Illustrated profile, when he was traded, in late 1999, to the Los Angeles Dodgers—the most historically Jewish franchise playing in one of the most Jewish metropolitan areas.
Well, Koufax and Yom Kippur and New Jersey Jewish News, oh my! The profile (titled “Promised Land”!) lays it on thick. It is a fun read, though, so have at it.
Meanwhile, in the same article, SI came up with a sketch for the all-time Jewish-American starting lineup:
Rod Carew, 2B, Hall of Famer
Buddy Myer, SS, career .303 hitter
Al Rosen, 3B, had 145 RBIs in ’53
Hank Greenberg, 1B, Hall of Famer
Sid Gordon, RF, 202 career homers
Benny Kauff, LF, lifetime .311 hitter
Elliott Maddox, CF, career .989 fielder
Moe Berg, C, spoke 12 languages, hit in none
Sandy Koufax, P, ranked up there with Moses.
It goes on to note that Gordon could very well be replaced by Green, then at his career’s midpoint; now that Green has retired with 328 home runs and a lifetime .283 average, and set the record for most total bases hit for in a single game, he has sealed that deal. The problem remaining is Carew. He is famously claimed in Adam Sandler’s “Hanukkah Song”: “He converted,” Sandler sings. But Carew did not convert—he married a Jewish woman and raised Jewish kids, but was not himself a Jew. Meaning we need a second bagger! Ian Kinsler, it’s time to step it up.
Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.