Jews & Baseball

Why do we idolize Jewish baseball players?

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It should be remembered that Koufax came back and pitched a complete game shutout in Game 5. Two days later, on short rest, the Jewish legend retook the mound for the decisive seventh game. In arthritic pain, he beat the Twins. Then he collected his World Series MVP award and was named Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year.

There is, of course, no single moment when the collective mass of Jewish citizens in this country became accepted as Americans. The waves of anti-Semitism have been reduced to ebbs and flows, and the affluence enjoyed by American Jewry dwarfs that of any time in the 3,000 year history of our people. There is not one day that marked that turning point, but many would look back at October 6, 1965 and see who wasn't standing on the mound.

Jewish sports fans certainly recall that day, and when they cheer for today's Jewish stars-- Kevin Youkilis, Shawn Green, Brad Ausmus, and others--they do so as accepted Americans. Jewish baseball played its part in that.

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Bradford R. Pilcher

Bradford R. Pilcher is the Managing Editor of American Jewish Life magazine. His writing has appeared in venues such as Wired News, PopMatters, Jewsweek, and he has served as an advisor to the National Museum of American Jewish History.