Take me out to the ball game – Mandy Patinkin
As baseball’s first Jewish all-time Great, Greenberg attracted a whole generation of American Jews to baseball, and it was their children and grand-children who have gone on to become owners, coaches, players, executives, sportswriters, broadcasters, statisticians and, most of all, fans. No player has had a greater historical impact on the attachment of American Jews to America’s Game.
Henry Benjamin “Hank” Greenberg (January 1, 1911, New York, New York — September 4, 1986), nicknamed “Hammerin’ Hank,” was an American professional baseball player in the 1930s and 1940s.
A first baseman primarily for the Detroit Tigers, Greenberg was one of the premier power hitters of his generation. He hit 58 home runs in 1938, equalling Jimmie Foxx’s 1932 mark, as the most in one season by any player between 1927–when Babe Ruth set a record of 60–and 1961–when Roger Maris surpassed it. He was a five-time All-Star, was twice named the American League’s Most Valuable Player, and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1956.
Greenberg was also one of the first Jewish superstars in American professional sports.He garnered national attention in 1934 when he refused to play baseball on Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement, even though the Tigers were in the middle of a pennant race.
Sanford Koufax (pronounced /ˈkoʊfæks/) (born Sanford Braun, on December 30, 1935) is an American left-handed former pitcher in Major League Baseball who played his entire career for the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers, from 1955 to 1966.
Koufax’s career peaked with a run of six outstanding seasons from 1961 to 1966, before arthritis ended his career at age 30. He was named the National League’s Most Valuable Player in 1963, and won the 1963, 1965, and 1966 Cy Young Awards by unanimous votes; in all three seasons, he won the pitcher’s triple crown by leading the league (indeed, both major leagues) in wins, strikeouts, and earned run average. A notoriously difficult pitcher for batters to face, he was the first major leaguer to pitch more than three no-hitters (including the first perfect game by a lefthander since 1880), to average fewer than seven hits allowed per nine innings pitched in his career (6.79; batters hit .205 against him), and to strike out more than nine batters (9.28) per nine innings pitched in his career. He also became the 2nd pitcher in baseball history to have two games with 18 or more strikeouts, and the first to have eight games with 15 or more strikeouts.
Among NL pitchers with at least 2,000 innings pitched who have debuted since 1913, he has the highest career winning percentage (.655) and had the lowest career ERA (2.76) until surpassed by Tom Seaver, whose NL career mark is 2.73. His 2,396 career strikeouts ranked 7th in major league history upon his retirement, and trailed only Warren Spahn’s total of 2,583 among left-handers. Retiring at the peak of his career, he became, at age 36 and 20 days, the youngest player ever elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Koufax is also notable as one of the few outstanding Jewish athletes of his era in American professional sports. His decision not to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series because game day fell on Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, garnered national attention as an example of conflict between social pressures and personal beliefs.
Leave a Reply