The season has been underway for only a short time and already your favorite team has probably had spurts of looking playoff bound as well as days looking like a cellar-dweller.
Hitters can look good or bad more often than teams – often with each at-bat.
Pete Rose, who collected more hits than any other major leaguer (4,256) offers this advice to hitters on how to be more successful: “A hitter’s impatience is the pitcher’s biggest advantage. So take your time, get comfortable in the batter’s box, have nothing on your mind but who you’re facing.”
A hundred years ago, Ty Cobb, who ended his career with 4,191 hits (the best of all time until Rose passed him) said: “Every great hitter works on the theory that the pitcher is more afraid of him than he is of the pitcher.”
Fifty years ago, Stan Musial said, “The key to hitting is to relax and concentrate. But remember even if you hit safely only once every three times, you’ll be a superstar.”
As you know it’s a very long road to the major leagues. Most minor league players fail to reach the highest minor league level and only four of every hundred ever get a taste of the major leagues during the regular season.
Even if a player reaches the big league level, there’s still no guarantee he’ll remain with one team for long. Former Jewish outfielder Richie Scheinblum comes to mind.
Scheinblum hit his first big league home run on July 20, 1969, the day man landed on the moon. Soon after that memorable day, he orbited around from team to team and league to league.
With Cleveland in 1969 for 199 at-bats, Scheinblum never hit another home run and only batted .186. It was back to the minor leagues in 1970, but two years later, playing for the Kansas City Royals, Scheinblum would have his best year in the big leagues, hitting .300 with eight home runs. He’s the only Jewish switch-hitter to bat .300 in a season.
In 1973 Richie started the season with the Cincinnati Reds before being traded to the California Angels. He ended the season with four homers, batting .307 in 283 plate appearances. He was back in the minors two years later. In the end he’d racked up a major league career that was spread over seven seasons with seven teams. He changed uniforms 16 times before ending his pro career in Japan with the Hiroshima Carp.
Scheinblum was the first Jewish player to play in Japan. Today, Kevin Youkilis, the Jewish third baseman/ first baseman who was with the Yankees last season, is trying to continue his pro career in Japan, hoping to impress big league scouts and earn a ticket back to the majors.
But no other Jewish player matched the wanderings of catcher/outfielder Burton Solomon. The Brooklyn native who was born in 1924 never reached the major leagues in a professional career that spanned from 1942 to 1952.
At times, Solomon only played one game with one team before moving on. He was literally “The Wandering Jew.” Only twice did he play in more than 10 games with one team.
Solomon played for teams in Americus, Ga; Utica, NY; Norfolk and Richmond, Va; Memphis, Tn; Watertown, NY; Topeka, Kan; Lynchburg, Va; Charlotte, NC; Welch, W. Va; Vicksburg and Natchez, Miss; Fulton, Ky; Hagerstown, Md; Augusta, Va; and Longview, Texas in only eight seasons.
In 1950, Solomon went to Quebec to play for St. Hyacinthe. In 1951 he was back in the U.S. and went south to Texas City, Texas and Lafrayette, Louisiana. He closed his professional playing career in 1952 with stints in Spokane, Washington, and Corpus Christi, Texas.
About the Author: Author, columnist, and public speaker Irwin Cohen headed a national baseball publication for five years and worked for a major league team, becoming the first Orthodox Jew to earn a World Series ring. His column appears the second week of each month. He can be reached in his suburban Detroit area dugout at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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