On Thursday in the Bronx, egomaniacal Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez sent his 661st home run over the center field wall in Yankee Stadium. The straightaway shot pushed Rodriguez, a liar, to fourth on the all-time home runs list, over “The Say Hey Kid” Willie Mays.
This got me wondering: Which Jewish players have hit the most home runs in professional baseball history? Here’s a top-9 list, and more:
Jewish Home Run Kings
1) Hank Greenberg – 331
2) Shawn Green – 328
4) Sid Gordon – 202
5) Al Rosen – 192
6) Ian Kinsler – 173
7) Kevin Youkilis – 150
8) Mike Leiberthal – 150
9) Mike Epstein – 130
– Lipman Emanuel “Lip” Pike, “the First Great Jewish Player…and the son of a haberdasher,” writes SABR, once hit six home runs in a single game:
Born May 25, 1845, Lipman Emanuel Pike was the first great Jewish baseball player, playing professionally from 1866 to 1881. While no comparable statistical records exist for his career through 1870, from 1871 through 1881 Pike appeared in 425 National Association and National League games, hitting .321 with a slugging average of .463.
– Mose Soloman, a minor league home run king, reports SABR:
Homer King Solomon ruled supreme for one brief and brilliant year. He wore the flowing purple in 1923, when he rode with the long ball lords of the past. He hit 49 roundtrippers that year for Hutchinson in the Southwestern League, the highest total ever recorded in the minor leagues up to that point.
Moses Solomon out homered them all, the big and the small, in the width and the breadth of the land. Only one home run king in organized baseball hit more big ones in one season than Old Hickory, and that was the greatest of them all, Babe Ruth, in 1920 (54), and 1921 (59).
The 23-year-old slugging Solomon was to all appearances the answer to John McGraw’s quest for a “Jewish Babe Ruth”. A “Jewish Appeal”, the mercenary McGraw figured, would help to offset the tremendous drawing power of the Babe in his new tower of babble. Ruth, the greatest money player of all time, had hit a typical Ruthian homer to open Yankee Stadium in 1923.
McGraw was anxious to compete with the Yankees in the increasingly heavy Jewish residential areas of the Bronx and upper Manhattan. Although Solomon’s sensational slugging was done in the Class C Southwestern League, he was also a native of New York City, which only whetted McGraw’s enthusiasm. The Giants paid $4,500 for the Rabbi of Swat.
Moses had come out of the wilderness of the long ball wastes into the limelight of New York’s baseball climate. Moses was toasted as the best minor league homer hitter since Perry Werden’s monumental 45 home runs with Minneapolis (Western League) in 1895. Solomon should have had a flat 50 home runs, but one of his clouts (August 26th) was washed out by rain.
Solomon was brought up to the National League by the Giants at the tail end of the 1923 season. The pennant winning Giants were on a four year pennant push (1921-24) and had a veteran outfield of Ross Youngs, Irish Meusel, and Casey Stengel.
Worthy of Props
Gape Kapler – 82
Brad Ausmus – 80
Art Shamsky – 68
Ron Blomberg – 52
And many more!
Jonathan Zalman is a writer and teacher based in Brooklyn.