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Jewish Journal

The Hebrew Hammers: Jewish players outperform non-Jews in 2013 season

by Peter Dreier

October 8, 2013 | 9:14 am

Nate Freiman. Photo by Keith Allison

Nate Freiman. Photo by Keith Allison

Breaking news!! Stop the presses!!

What's all the fuss about? Hold onto your baseball caps! (Or your yamulkes).

According to the authoritative Jewish Baseball News, the 14 Jewish players on major league rosters batted .254 during the regular season that just ended.

Now compare this to the meager .253 batting average for all other major leaguers.

Statistically insignificant, you say? Baloney!! (Hebrew National, of course).

Making a Mount Sinai out of a molehill?  I don’t think so.

The chosen people? Let's not go there.

But what about pitching? Here, too, the Jews outperformed the rest of their major league counterparts. The four Jewish pitchers had a 3.61 earned run average compared with the 3.86 ERA compiled by all major league pitchers. (The Hebrew hurlers had a combined 26-20 won-lost record).

Check out the individual statistics  at the Jewish Baseball News website.

Jews have been a constant presence on major league teams since Lipman Pike donned a uniform for the Troy Haymakers in 1871 and hung up his spikes 15 years later with a career .322 batting average. The Jewish gene pool also brought us Hall of Famers Hank Greenberg and Sandy Koufax, and recent super-stars Shawn Green and Ryan Braun.

[More baseball: Kershaw Koufax-esque but Uribe steals the show, sends Dodgers to NLCS]

The number of Jewish players on major league teams has been increasing. There were only eight Jews on big-league rosters in 1950, five in 1960,  seven in 1970 and 1980, and three in 1990. The numbers started climbing in the 1990s, reaching 11 in 2000 and 13 in 2005. This season, even without the four pitchers, there were enough Jews to form a minyan.

Looking for a list of the greatest Jewish baseball players in history? Check out my Jewish All-Time All-Star team, published in the Jewish Journal.


Peter Dreier teaches politics at Occidental College and is the author of The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame (Nation Books, 2012).

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