Story #2 might sound like a repeat from 1965. As well all know, maybe the most well known Jewish sports story of All time, Sandy Koufax did not pitch game 1 of the World Series because of Yom Kippur. To think about what that meant to not only the Jewish youth but Jews everywhere is remarkable. Koufax’s decision said to the world my faith is as important as my fastball. That Jewish students, Jewish athletes, and Jewish workers can for a moment forget about their daily rituals and focus on God and their Judaism. It gave people courage and made them feel an undeniable sense of pride.
In September 2001, Shawn Green took Koufax’s lead and did not play on Yom Kippur. Green said he considers himself “a role model in sports for Jewish kids.” At the time the Dodgers were competing for a playoff spot (not quiet the World Series) and Green led the team with 49 home runs. While some of you may feel that this doesn’t deserve the #2 ranking, think about it this way. Michael Jordan’s amazing dunk from the free throw line was ridiculous. As it any less ridiculous because Dr. J did it first? No, amazing is amazing. And not playing baseball on Yom Kippur is just that, amazing.
Before the game was loaded with Jewish ball players there was a long break of standout players. Sure now we have Kinsler, Braun, and Youkilis but Green bridged the gap between them and Koufax, Greenberg, Stone, and Holtzman. So, story #2 of the decade goes to the message sent by Green by taking off for Yom Kippur something Kinsler, Braun, and Youkilis have yet to do.
And Let Us Say…Amen.
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