A while back I met up with Former Yankee (and White Sox) Ron Blomberg. Blomberg, besides being one hell of a good guy, was the first designated hitter ever. He batted .293 for his career, which was shortened due to injuries. But before he got banged up he was a tremendous athlete. He was recruited for baseball, basketball, and football. Blomberg is proud of his career, but one thing that stood out during our interview was that he is also proud of his Jewish heritage. Below is the interview.
1) What was it like being the first designated hitter of all time?
Wow, it was 38 years ago. It means a lot. It allows another baseball player, who is in his later years in the game and to come back. Like Jim Thome. I love it and it is great for the game of baseball. Same with the pinch hitter. To play a position forever and then come into DH, was a nice opportunity. Personally, I was the designated hitter and designated Hebrew. And being a Jew no one could ever take that away from him or us.
2) You have a book called “The Designated Hebrew.” How is that going?
Right now we trying to get to go paperback. It has sold44,000 copies. I get to speak all over.
3) What was your personal career highlight? Is there anything else you would have liked to have accomplished?
Unfortunately I was injured a lot. I did not fulfill my potential. Back in my day, the medical attention isn’t where it is today. Playing for Yankees was the highlight. Pinstripe. Huge accomplishment. Greatest fans. And bringing religion in as a professional player.
4) What was it like coaching in the Israel Baseball League?
Great coaching in Israel. I was in Tel Aviv. We stayed in the Dan Panorama and no one knew what baseball was. They brought us out to Kibbutz Gezer. It was the greatest experience of my life. To go there and represent what you love and be a Jew and do what you love. And look at where my heritage was from. Greatest experience of his life. Unfortunately, financially it didn’t succeed. People were wonderful, we were loved over there, with Ken Holztman and [Art] Shamsky and it was unbelieveable. People had open arms. In 1973 was asked to come, but couldn’t go. But this time around I was very impressed for its first year. Administration-wise it just did’nt get off the ground but great to give back to the Jews. Israel was fighting everyday, but to give back to the Israelis was great. Fans came to watch. The soldiers were cheering. It had a positive affect. 90% didn’t know so much about baseball, but we got in the paper every day.
5) You were highly recruited out of high school for both basketball and football. Why did you choose baseball?
I was drafted in 1967 number 1 by the Yankees. [John] Wooden offered me a scholarships. I received 125 basketball and 115 football scholarships. My alliegence was to the Yankees. To play there as a Jew was great. Now I have speaking engagements and work the Yankees. Being Jewish gives me opportunites. Like I have a sandwich named after me. But once you’re a Yankee you are always a Yankee. Once you play in New York or Chicago you don’t forget who you played for.
6) What did it mean to you to be inducted in the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame?
Chosen to be in the Hall of Fame with Koufax and Greenberg had a major affect on my life. This year I was voted into the Ted Wlliams Hall of Fame in Tampa. There is a Jewish room. What goes around come around. I am proud to be a Jew. Words don’t express my feelings.
7) Greenberg or Koufax?
Neither was better. Greenberg did his thing and Koufax did his thing. You can’t say Mays or Mantle. They were both great. Different ball players have different skills.
8) What is in store for you next?
I have my radio show. I am at Yankee Stadium all the time. I have speaking engagements. So I will be out there.
Thank you again to Ron Blomberg. Best of luck to you…and your White Sox.
And Let Us Say…Amen.
For more in Jewish sports check out WWW.THEGREATRABBINO.COM