Two Jewish pitchers -- Al Levine and Scott Schoeneweis -- are part of this World Series' miracle, where the Anaheim Angels have made it for the first time (as of press time the series was undecided).
Levine, a right-handed relief pitcher with a 4.24 season ERA, credits the Angels' success this year to the players' positive attitudes and strong work ethics. "Everyone on the team gets along so well and works incredibly hard. We started the season with the worst record in Angels' history (6-14), but we persevered, and look where we are now," said Levine, 34, who will not be pitching during the series.
The 6-foot-3 Illinois native, who recalls his mother shlepping him straight from Hebrew school to baseball practice as a child, encourages today's Jewish youth to pursue their athletic dreams. "Anyone can be a baseball player. If you put your mind to it, you can be anything," said Levine, who lives in Irvine with his wife, Linda, and their 21Â¼2-year-old son, Anthony.
Schoeneweis, the Angel's left-handed relief pitcher with a 4.88 season ERA, appears on the team's 25-man World Series roster and will be brought in to pitch against the Giants' home-run king, Barry Bonds, during late-inning situations. Alt hough his mother is Jewish, Schoeneweis, 29, does not consider himself a practicing Jew, and declined The Journal's interview request.
Levine, on the other hand, embraces the attention he receives for being a Jewish professional athlete. "I get a lot of mail from Jewish fans, and am always more than happy to respond. I'm proud, actually. And when I'm watching sporting events, I always look to see which other athletes might be Jewish," said Levine, who was bar mitzvahed, but does not currently belong to a synagogue.
"One of the great things about baseball is that players of all ethnicities are in the league," Levine said. "So religion or background don't matter on the field. It's playing hard that means something."