Jews and Baseball “Top Ten Jewish Players of All Time” Candidate Statistics
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A three-time gold glove winner, Ausmus played for 18 seasons before retiring in 2010. He was an All-Star in 1999, and with his stellar glovework behind the plate, led the league in assists and putouts multiple times. In 2002 he had the dubious distinction of leading the National League by hitting into 30 double plays. Among Jewish hitters, he ranks eighth in RBI and fifth in hits.
Berg was a major leaguer for 15 years, mostly spent as a light-hitting catcher with solid defensive skills. Berg cracks this list for his off-the-field exploits. A brilliant linguist who was said to know a dozen languages, Berg took espionage photos for the US government while on a baseball barnstorming tour in pre-WWII Japan. He was recruited by the OSS (forerunner to the CIA) after he retired from baseball, and went on clandestine missions against the Nazis.
Blomberg’s claim to fame is his status as baseball’s first designated hitter (as he put it, “designated Hebrew”) after the American League instituted the rule in 1973. His .293 career batting average over eight seasons puts him seventh among Jewish batters. He was the first overall pick in the 1967 draft, selected by the NY Yankees.
One of several players who have held the nickname “Hebrew Hammer,” Braun won the Rookie of the Year award playing third base for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2007. He has garnered Most Valuable Player (MVP) votes in each year of his career so far, and has been an All-Star three times. He led the National League in slugging in 2007, and in hits in 2009. Among Jewish batters, he is seventh in HR, 10th in RBI and second in batting average.
Danning played catcher for the New York Giants, retiring in 1942. He was a four-time All-Star and finished in the top 10 in MVP voting twice. He was above average behind the plate, and led all National League catchers in putouts three times. Danning places ninth among Jewish batters in career hits.
Gordon spent most of his 15-year career on the New York Giants and Boston Braves. He played third base and outfield, was twice an All-Star and received MVP votes in five seasons. He ranks third among Jewish batsmen in home runs, fourth in RBI and sixth in hits.
Green played for 15 years, primarily as an outfielder. While with the Dodgers, he halted a consecutive-games-played streak of over 400 games when the next game was on Yom Kippur. He was a two-time All-Star and finished his career in 2007 as the second most prolific Jewish batter in home runs (328), RBI (1070) and hits (2003).
Playing primarily for the Detroit Tigers, Greenberg was the first Jewish ballplayer to win MVP honors, doing so at two different positions (first base, 1935; left field, 1940). He made the first serious run at Babe Ruth’s single-season home run record, finishing with 58 in 1938. Greenberg later became a general manager and part owner of the Cleveland Indians, and later, the Chicago White Sox.
Holtzman played for 15 seasons, mostly for the Chicago Cubs. He is the career leader in wins among Jewish pitchers, ranks second in strikeouts and fifth in Earned Run Average (ERA). Holtzman was a two-time All-Star, and won 21 games in 1973. He was among the leagues’s top 10 pitchers in wins in five seasons.
Over 12 major league seasons for six teams, Kapler has moved into the 10th slot in home runs among Jewish batters. In both 2000 and 2002, he finished with a batting average above .300. The outfielder/DH has, alas, put up an underwhelming .111 average in 15 postseason games.
After just five seasons, Kinsler is already a two-time All-Star and has been in the American League top ten in batting average, runs and steals. A second baseman for the Rangers, Kinsler finished among the leaders in voting for Rookie of the Year in 2006.
Koufax’s listing on the Baseball Hall of Fame says it all: “After Sandy Koufax finally tamed his blazing fastball, he enjoyed a five-year stretch as perhaps the most dominating pitcher in the game's history.” Koufax was praised in the Jewish community for declining to pitch in Game One of the 1965 World Series because it fell on Yom Kippur.
In his 11 seasons, he has pitched for five teams so far. He was an All-Star in 2009 for the Colorado Rockies, one of two seasons in which he won 15 or more games. In 2005, Marquis won a Silver Slugger award as the best-hitting pitcher. He is moving up the Jewish career stats, and is currently fifth in wins and strikeouts.
Myer played for 17 seasons at several infield positions, mostly for the Washington Senators. He was a two-time All-Star, and finished fourth in MVP voting in 1935, leading the league with a .349 batting average. In 1928, he led the league in stolen bases. In Jewish career stats, Myer is first in hits, and third in RBI and batting average.
Pelty, nicknamed “the Yiddish Curver,” played 10 seasons, mostly for the St. Louis Browns. Among Jewish pitchers, his 2.62 ERA is the top career average. He is sixth among Jewish pitchers in wins. He led the American League in one pitching stat in 1907, although unfortunately the category was ‘losses.’
Rosen played for 10 seasons, all with the Cleveland Indians. As the Indians third baseman, he won the American League MVP in 1953, and barely missed the Triple Crown that season by losing out on the batting average race on the last day of the season. He did maintain the league lead in HR and RBI.
During his 11 big-league seasons, Sherry was both a starting pitcher and a reliever. He was the MVP of the 1959 World Series for the Dodgers, and made the league’s top ten in saves four times. In Jewish career stats, Sherry has the most saves, and also ranks in the top 10 in wins, ERA and strikeouts.
Stone ranks third among Jewish pitchers in wins and strikeouts. He averaged a solid 10 wins a year in his 11 seasons, but he was phenomenal in 1980, going 25-7 for the Baltimore Orioles and winning the Cy Young award.
Yeager played catcher for 15 years, mostly with the Dodgers. He was the World Series MVP in 1981. He is ninth among Jewish batters in career HR and 10th in hits, and was considered one of the best defensive catchers in the game in his era.
Famously called “the Greek god of walks” in the book Moneyball, Youkilis is a two-time All-Star, has finished in the top 10 in MVP voting twice, and has a postseason batting average of .306. He has played most of his games at the infield corner positions, all for the Boston Red Sox. During his career so far, Youkilis has finished in the top four in the American League in slugging, RBI, and on-base percentage. 2011 will be his eighth season in the big leagues, and Youkilis is already eighth among Jewish hitters in HR, ninth in RBI and sixth in batting average.
Son of former pitcher Ron Davis, Ike is a first baseman for the New York Mets and in 2010 set the Mets rookie record for total bases with 230, tied the Mets rookie records for walks with 72 and extra-base hits with 53.
The 2009 season was a breakout year for Feldman; he went 17-8 with a 4.08 ERA, and with 12 of those victories coming on the road. Feldman was named the Texas Rangers’ Pitcher of the Year.
“Super Sam,” as his adoring fans like to call him, is best known for his acrobatic defense in the outfield. The following quote by Rays pitching ace David Price is the legend of Sam Fuld in a nutshell. “I heard that the world is covered by 75 percent water, and the other 25 percent is covered by Sam Fuld.”
“Hard Luck” Horlen had an impressive streak in which he had an ERA under 3.00 for five consecutive seasons from 1964 to1968 but had a middling overall winning record due to the White Sox shortcomings on offense.
In 1866, Lip Pike became the first professional baseball player ever when he signed with the Philadelphia Athletics. He was unique in that he played in and managed the National League at the same time. Pike was also baseball’s first home run champion.
Stone took up a career in professional baseball belatedly, at the age of 26. He hit over .400 in his final season in the minor leagues. In his brief major league career, his highlight was a phenomenal 1906, when as a St Louis Brown he led the AL in batting average, hits, total bases, and slugging.
Valencia made an impression as a rookie with a grand slam off 2010’s reigning Cy Young Award winner Zach Greinke for his first home run. In the same year, he led the American League in batting average with runners in scoring position.
Where To See The Video In Your Jewish Community
Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story, is being shown on PBS stations in 2012. It is also being shown at film festivals and other events in Jewish communities across the US.
Click here for a list of PBS airtimes for the film. The Jewish Federations are sponsoring these broadcasts. (The list will be updated as airtimes are scheduled across the country.)
Click here for information about screenings.