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JewishJournal.com

May 22, 2009

Brad Ausmus: the new Jew in Dodger Blue

http://www.jewishjournal.com/blog/item/brad_ausmus_the_new_jew_in_dodger_blue_20090522/

Photo

Ausmus in spring training

I love baseball, the Dodgers and the Jews, and earlier this week I interviewed the newest Dodger Blue Jew.

Brad Ausmus, a three-time Gold Glove winner and 2004 National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame inductee, joined the team this winter as a backup to All-Star catcher Russell Martin.

Ausmus, in his 17th season in the majors, hasn’t had the career of the Dodgers’ two best-known Jewish stars—Sandy Koufax and Shawn Green—and hasn’t posed for Playgirl like another Jewish Dodgers catcher, Steve Yeager. But he’s a defensive stud and one of the best MOT’s to ever work behind the plate, even if his life hasn’t been as interesting as Moe Berg‘s.

I asked Ausmus about what it was like playing for MLB’s record-leading team, what it was like backing up a great young catcher and playing on an exciting, high-scoring team, about whether he thought this would be the last stop in his career. But primarily I asked him what it was like being a Jewish ballplayer.

“I wasn’t raised with the Jewish religion, so in that sense I don’t really have much feeling toward it,” Ausmus said, sitting in front of his locker and opening fan mail before Jewish Community Night against the New York Mets. “But, however, in the last 10 or so years, I have had quite a few young Jewish boys who will tell me that I am their favorite player or they love watching me play or they feel like baseball is a good fit for them because it worked for me or it worked for Shawn Green or other Jewish players at the Major League level. It has been a sense of pride. If you can have a positive impact on a kid, I’m all for it.”

This is obviously a good time for Jews in baseball. Their numbers have been higher before, but never have they had three stars of the caliber of Ryan Braun, Kevin Youkilis and Ian Kinsler—each of whom were All-Stars last year and are at it again this season.

More to come. For previous baseball talk on The God Blog, check out:

Was A-Rod blaming God?
Brains and Braun: Hebrew Hammer instills pride in the Tribe
Braun and Youkilis—pride of the Tribe, but MVPs?
Dodgers strikeout adding Canter’s to Koufax
‘Remembering Greenberg’

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