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November 30, 2015 / 18 Kislev, 5776
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Non-Perfect Perfect Game

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It’s been all over the news. You had to be in solitary confinement not to hear about umpire Jim Joyce’s blown call at first base that should have ended the perfect game by Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga against the Cleveland Indians in Detroit.


Even Jason Donald, who happened to be the baserunner, was caught by surprise as he thought he ended the perfect game. I was at the game the night before and was watching this one on television and also listening to the radio as the game wound down. I watched in disbelief as Donald was called safe and a shocked Galarraga retired the next batter to end the game.


I ran to shul – the game ended just before Mincha – and you can guess what the topic of conversation was and still is around my town. But we all agree that Galarraga was robbed of baseball immortality – and that this is the first 28-out perfect game.


Galarraga? He’s such a sweet guy and has been my favorite player on the team. We knew that he was a real mensch and now the world knows it, too. General Motors presented him with a red Corvette and we don’t feel bad for him as he’s been discovered and showered with zillions of words about his great behavior, good sportsmanship and being a real role model to youngsters on how to act when you’re wronged even though you’re right.


*     *     *


There’s a lot of buzz surrounding Mets first baseman Ike Davis. The son of former major league pitcher Ron Davis (Yankees, Twins, Cubs, Dodgers, Giants from 1978-1988), and a Jewish mother, Davis has quickly become the favorite Met and even favorite big-league player of many Orthodox fans, including a New Yorker who recently moved a pop-up away from me.


Even if he weren’t Jewish according to our halachic umpires, Davis would still be a good one to root for. A hard-nosed player who doesn’t see walls as obstacles, the smooth-fielding Davis can win a game here and there even on days when he doesn’t get a hit. As far as hitting goes, Davis seems capable of reaching .300 with 25 home runs. That’s usually good enough to be an all-star but not in the National League with the likes of Albert Pujols, Ryan Howard and Prince Fielder competing for the first-base spot in the all-star voting for the foreseeable future.


We’ll see how much rubbed off on Davis from his Jewish side on Friday night, September 17, and the next afternoon. Besides being Shabbat, it’s Yom Kippur, and the Mets have a night game against Atlanta followed by an afternoon game Saturday.


             Speaking of Jewish players, if you want to see real Orthodox Jews play ball, why not participate in the Yankees fantasy camp in November? You get to play in George M. Steinbrenner Stadium, the Yankees’ spring training site in Tampa, Florida. Your name will be announced over the loudspeaker by Paul Olden, the voice of Yankee Stadium, and you’ll get to play against former Yankee stars.


Most important, though, the strictly kosher food is great and so are the Shabbat meals. Speaking from my experience at last November’s camp, when I was brought in as sort of a scholar-in-residence, even the mechitza (as some of the wives come for the weekend) was of the highest standards.


 For more info, contact Ira Jaskoll of Yeshiva University at  jaskoll@y.u.edu. The rabbi, as he’s known at the fantasy camp, is the go-between and makes sure all the needs of kosher campers are met.


*     *     *


Andre Dawson was on the Hall of Fame ballot for nine years and 77.9 percent of the electorate finally made him a Hall of Famer. He’ll be inducted next month in Cooperstown.


An outfielder for 21 big league years (1976-1996) with the Montreal Expos, Cubs, Red Sox and Marlins, Dawson compiled a .279 career batting average with 438 home runs. The career batting average doesn’t say much but Dawson was also a great fielder with an accurate arm. Dawson is only one of three players to rack up 400 homers, 300 stolen bases (314) and 1,500 RBI (1,591). The two players who bested those totals were Willie Mays and Barry Bonds.


The media – myself included – loved Dawson as he was always accommodating and a great interview. I still have a picture of us at the 1983 All-Star Game in Chicago’s old Comiskey Park.


Speaking of the Hall of Fame, if Mark McGwire had stayed off steroids, he would have been enshrined already. Whether or not you think McGwire, who slammed 583 career homers, or others from the so-called steroid era should be enshrined in Cooperstown, the Hall of Fame should have three wings. One for the super-duper stars like Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Lou Gehrig, Walter Johnson and the like, another for the Andre Dawson type and another for the best of the steroid era.


I always thought those in charge at the Hall of Fame blew it by not getting the inductees’ autograph, hand and foot impressions in cement – like the sidewalks at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Los Angeles.


When I was with the Tigers, I suggested to the higher-ups that they turn part of the boring sidewalk surrounding the stadium into a baseball version of Hollywood Boulevard. At the time, great former Tigers such as Hank Greenberg and Hal Newhouser were still around and I also recommended that former stars who appeared in Detroit as visiting players – even those from the National League who played in the 1951 and 1971 All-Star Games that were held in Detroit – be included. What an attraction it would have made. Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, and numerous other greats were still healthy at the time.


I’m currently writing a book that includes the aforementioned and some other ideas baseball should consider. It should be ready for Chanukah and will make a great gift, for me anyway.


*     *     *


I admire the on-the-field and front office teams of the Florida teams – the Marlins and Rays. However, the better they do the more they’re on national television. I hate to see games from their home parks and would love to see them get new stadiums. Oakland and the Florida teams play in baseball’s least attractive and worst stadiums.


The good news is the Marlins have a nice retractable-roof stadium under construction. The bad news is that it will be a much longer drive for most of the Miami area’s Jewish population.



Irwin Cohen, the author of seven books, headed a national baseball publication before earning a World Series ring working as a front office department head. Cohen, whose column appears the second week of each month, is president of the Detroit area’s Agudah shul and may be reached in his dugout at irdav@sbcglobal.net.

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 irdav@sbcglobal.net.

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