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Jewish Journal

Jewish baseball player supports Little League efforts

by Alex Leichenger

June 21, 2011 | 5:08 pm

Shawn Green returned to a Los Angeles baseball diamond on June 15, only this time instead of suiting up in a blue-and-white uniform at Dodger Stadium, he donned jeans and a green Subway polo shirt at La Cienega Park in Beverly Hills. 

And instead of being flanked by the likes of Eric Gagne and Adrian Beltre, Green posed for photos with 1980s Dodger great Orel Hershiser, the Marlins of Beverly Hills Little League and fellow Jewish celebrity Jared Fogle, the bespectacled Subway pitchman.

Green and Hershiser acted as managers for a National Little League Baseball Appreciation Game, the first event in the third annual Subway Baseball DeSIGNS Tour, which benefits the Little League Urban Initiative. The tour will visit four cities, ending in South Williamsport, Pa., for the Little League World Series in late August.

Green’s Marlins hosted Hershiser’s Braves of Encino Little League in the four-inning afternoon exhibition game.

Although Green, 38, retired from baseball in 2007, he announced in early June that he would be willing to play for Israel in the 2013 World Baseball Classic.

“Assuming everything at home is in the right place with my family, and it works out, I would love to do that,” Green told The Jewish Journal.

Green, an outfielder and first baseman, spent 15 years with four pro teams — the Toronto Blue Jays, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Arizona Diamondbacks and the New York Mets. He posted a lifetime batting average of .283 and hit 328 home runs, including a Dodger single-season record of 49 in 2001.

He was the most visible Jewish baseball player since Sandy Koufax, which carried added responsibilities.

“Everywhere I played, there was an extra set of Jewish media,” Green said. “There was that aspect — then speaking at different Jewish community centers or going to synagogues — there were always other opportunities.”

Since Green’s retirement, his torch has passed to Jewish stars like Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers and Kevin Youkilis of the Boston Red Sox.

Green, who is promoting his new book, “The Way of Baseball: Finding Stillness at 95 MPH,” said he still “keeps tabs” on pro baseball and the Dodgers, who have slumped on the field this year as owners Frank and Jamie McCourt battle for control of the team in court and struggle to make payroll. Major League Baseball seized control of the club’s day-to-day operations in April.

Hershiser made headlines recently by announcing that he and Steve Garvey, another former Dodger great, were leading an effort to purchase the team.

Green said that he has spoken briefly with Hershiser about the venture, but he has not been asked to join and does not anticipate doing so.

“That’s so far down the pipe of things,” he said. 

For the moment, Green’s focus was on the Little League diamond. He encouraged the kids from Encino and Beverly Hills to stay active in sports, adding that he met the co-best men at his wedding through Little League.

Said Green: “Anytime you can come out on a baseball field like this, in this kind of weather, it’s a thrill.”

The exhibition game ended with an Encino Braves win, 3–2.

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