The Shmooze

Who Is a Ball-Playing Jew?

By Jordana Horn

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Play ball, already! For those who are in the “fascinated by Jews who are professional athletes” category, a new website will help you indulge your yenta streak.

JewishBaseballNews.com, a website that debuted this week, follows all Jewish Major League Baseball players, showing how they perform, as well as how they fare compared with the rest of Major League Baseball.

“It’s hard to believe that as recently as 1987, there were no Jews playing Major League ball,” editor Scott Barancik said in a press release. “On Opening Day rosters this year, there were 10 Jewish players. Two weeks later, the New York Mets called up slugger Ike Davis from the minors. Jewish baseball fans should feel proud.”

What is the “who is a Jew?” standard for the website? Jewish Baseball News’s definition is a bit more lax than that of the state of Israel under the Law of Return. The site considers a player Jewish if he has at least one Jewish parent, or converted to Judaism; doesn’t practice another religion; and is happy to be identified as Jewish. Hey, we’ve got to get them however we can. It is unclear as to whether or not refusing to play on Kol Nidre would also constitute part of the definition.

Eleven of today’s 750 Major League players meet Jewish Baseball News’s “Who is a ball-playing Jew?” test. They are:

  1. Brad Ausmus (C), Los Angeles Dodgers (on disabled list)
  2. Craig Breslow (P), Oakland A’s
  3. Ryan Braun (LF), Milwaukee Brewers
  4. Ike Davis (1B), New York Mets
  5. Scott Feldman (P), Texas Rangers
  6. John Grabow (P), Chicago Cubs
  7. Gabe Kapler (RF), Tampa Bay Rays
  8. Ian Kinsler (2B), Texas Rangers (on disabled list)
  9. Jason Marquis (P), Washington Nationals (on disabled list)
  10. Scott Schoeneweis (RP), Boston Red Sox
  11. Kevin Youkilis (1B/3B), Boston Red Sox

“Everyone needs heroes,” Barancik said.


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