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January 24, 2017 / 26 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Baseball’

10 Jewish-American Players Slated to Represent Israel in Baseball Tournament

Friday, January 6th, 2017

Ten Jewish Major League Baseball players and their families are visiting Israel this week, ahead of the upcoming World Baseball Classic, where they will play for the Israeli team. Israel will be making its first appearance in the international Baseball tournament. This will mark the first time Jewish-American athletes play for Israel in a world championship. WBC rules state that players who are eligible for citizenship of a given country may play on that country’s team.

On Thursday, the Jewish-American-Israeli team and its coaches and managers visited the Tel Nof Israeli Air Force Base, near Rehovot and took a group shot with some pilots and crew.

The Jewish players’ visit at the IA base was organized by Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) and led by Jeff Aeder, founder of the Jewish Baseball Museum. The players met and spoke with the fighter pilots who protect Israel’s skies.

The visiting players included former NY Met Ike Davis; NY Mets current players Ty Kelly and Josh Zeid; Oakland Athletics players Ryan Lavarnway and Sam Fuld; Boston Red Sox player Cody Decker; Cincinnati Reds player Jon Moscot; St. Louis Cardinals player Corey Baker; Philadelphia Phillies player Jeremy Bleich; and Los Angeles Dodgers Director of Player Development Gabe Kapler.

The first-round hosts of the WBC will be Tokyo, Seoul, Miami, and Guadalajara. The second round hosts will be Tokyo and San Diego, and the championship round will be played in Los Angeles.

“These ten Jewish baseball players are visiting Israel for the first time to celebrate the fact that they’ve qualified for the World Baseball Classic,” Aeder said. “I thought this would be a wonderful opportunity to expose them to the country and for them to meet some of the brave men and women who defend Israel and Jews everywhere, and derive pride from the Jewish State’s ability to defend itself.”

During their tour of Israel, the ten players and staff practiced on baseball fields and met with Israel Association of Baseball players. They also visited some of Israel’s landmarks and holy sites.

It should be noted that the WBC games feature mercy rules, whereby games are called if one team is ahead by 10 or more runs when the opposing team has batted in at least seven innings, or 15 or more runs when the opposing team has batted in at least five innings.

Mercy rules do not apply during the championship round.


Who Owns The Baseball?

Thursday, October 27th, 2016

A court in San Francisco was asked to decide who owns the baseball Barry Bonds hit for his record-setting 73rd home run during the 2001m season.

Was it a fan named Alex Popov who appeared for a split second to catch it? Or was it another fan, Patrick Hayashi, who ended up holding it after a scramble?

“I caught the ball, I possessed it but then I was mugged,” said Mr. Popov.

“I plucked the ball from the ground after being pushed there by the mob,” said Mr. Hayashi.

The videotape does seem to show Mr. Popov snagging the ball for a split second on the fly, but it is impossible to tell whether he still had the ball before tumbling beneath a crush of frantic fans.

The ball was said to be worth $1 million. How might halacha have decided this case?

There are situations in which the finder of lost property has no obligation to return it to the original owner and may keep it. One such situation is where the original owner abandons the item, as in the case of Bonds’s baseball.

What happens if two people are holding on to abandoned property and each claims to have found it first?

There are three possible halachic solutions to the problem. The first is to divide the object, or the proceeds from the sale of the object, between the contestants. The second is for the court to confiscate the ball from both parties. The third is to require each contestant to do something that demonstrates to the court that he is not lying.

In most situations not involving abandoned property, when the contestants have competing claims that cannot be resolved by evidence, the matter is resolved by equally dividing the value of the disputed object between the parties in accordance with the halachic rule mamon hamutal besafek cholkim.

If this solution were applied to our case, it would encourage people to grab the item from the hands of the original finder and falsely claim they found it first. They would then enjoy the undeserved windfall of half the value of the grabbed item. The result would be a scuffle similar to the one witnessed on the baseball field.

The second solution of confiscating the abandoned object is equally unsatisfactory because it does not discourage grabbing and lying. After all, neither party will be out of pocket if the court confiscates the baseball, so why not grab and lie?

The third solution is for each contestant to take a shevuah, an oath invoking the name of God, that each is entitled to half the value of the abandoned item. The assumption is that nobody will risk the penalty of karet, premature death at the Hand of God, for half a baseball, and so the truth will win out.

Now, invoking the name of God through a shevuah is a serious matter. The rabbis will shrink from employing this “trial by ordeal” solution unless they can find an analogous case in the Torah itself.

Generally, the Torah does not require a defendant to swear that he does not owe the plaintiff money. Hamotzi meichaveiro, alav hare’ayah – it is the plaintiff who must prove his case, and in the absence of such proof the defendant walks. However, there are situations in which the Torah requires the defendant to take a shevuah in support of his case.

One such case is where the defendant is modeh bemiktzat – he admits to part of the claim against him but denies the other part of the claim. He admits, for example, that he borrowed $100 but claims he repaid $50. In this situation, the halacha imposes an oath on the defendant because there is a concern that in fact he does owe $100 and though he is not brazen enough to deny the entire amount, he is under sufficient financial pressure to deny part of it.

Another situation in which the Torah requires a defendant to take a shevuah is when the plaintiff produces only one witness to substantiate his claim. Although the rule is that two witnesses must support all monetary claims, one witness establishes enough of a case to require the defendant to take an oath in support of his defense.

Another situation in which the Torah requires the defendant to take an oath is when the defendant denies the whole amount of the claim but the plaintiff then brings witnesses or there is other evidence that the defendant owes at least part of the claim. In such a case, according to Rabbi Chiyah, the Torah imposes an oath on the defendant to substantiate his statement that he does not owe the other part.

The fact that the video shows both Mr. Popov and Mr. Hayashi holding the ball at the relevant time is tantamount to the testimony of witnesses that each contestant is at least the owner of half the ball. This situation is sufficiently analogous to the oath the Torah imposes in the third situation mentioned above, to permit the rabbis to impose an oath on both Mr. Popov and Mr. Hayashi. After taking the oath that each owns not less than half the ball, Mr. Popov and Mr. Hayashi are entitled to $500,000 each.


Raphael Grunfeld’s new book, “Ner Eyal on Seder Nashim, Nezikin, Kodashim, Taharot and Zera’im,” will be published shortly.

Raphael Grunfeld

Israel to Compete at World Baseball Qualifier in Brooklyn, NY

Monday, August 29th, 2016

Israel is to be represented next month at the international qualifier for next year’s World Baseball Classic in Brooklyn, New York, against Brazil, Britain and Pakistan.

A number of players from the Major League will represent the Jewish State, including former All-Star pitcher Jason Marquis, former Mets infielder Ike Davis, and Craig Breslow, a player for the Red Sox in their 2013 World Series title.

If Israel qualifies for the WBC, the roster will likely include the greatest collection of Jewish ballplayers on one team in the history of the game, ever.

Jewish Press News Briefs

1941: Baseball In America, War In Europe

Thursday, July 7th, 2016

The year 1941 brought a season of baseball excellence from Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams. It was also a year of anguish for Jews on both sides of the ocean.

Radio provided escapism from the war in Europe and most Jewish males, like most males in America, were following the adventures of the Lone Ranger.

Broadcast from the Detroit radio studios of WXYZ, the three-times weekly Lone Ranger program was more popular than ever. National surveys indicated that 63 percent of the listening audience was made up of adults.

The deep, authoritative voice of Earle W. Graser was perfectly suited for the role of the Lone Ranger. Tragically, as he was returning home from the studio late one night, Graser fell asleep at the wheel. His car veered into a parked trailer, and one of America’s most popular radio voices was forever silenced. He was only 32.

National publications carried obituaries and editorials. Time magazine called the Lone Ranger “the most adored character ever to be created on the U.S. air.”

Graser was gone but the Lone Ranger galloped into America’s homes the following evening as WXYZ announcer Brace Beemer assumed the role of  the masked man. Beemer would fill the radio role for the next 13 years.

Eight days later, on April 18, 1941, Yugoslavia surrendered to Germany. Nazi bombing squadrons soon targeted Belgrade, causing 700 Jewish casualties. Yugoslavia’s chief rabbi, Dr. Isaac Alcalay, was among the victims.

Hundreds of Jews were killed and more than 2,000 wounded during a five-day pogrom in Romania. Hundreds of Jews sought and were granted shelter at the American consulate. Jews trying to escape to Hungary were machine-gunned, as were others who tried to flee in small boats. Criminals were released from jail in Romania by Iron Guardists to help butcher the Jews.

In America, meanwhile, superstar Hank Greenberg, who over the previous four seasons had averaged 43 home runs and 148 runs batted in, was inducted into the United States Army in May.

Less than a month later, Lou Gehrig died. Gehrig, who retired from baseball two years earlier after being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, had set a record for endurance that would stand for decades, playing in 2,130 consecutive games for the Yankees. His fatal neuro-muscular disease would become known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Gehrig was only 38.

In her book My Luke and I, published 36 years after her husband’s passing, Eleanor Gehrig told of her bedside vigil as her celebrity husband lay dying.

“I often had to look out the window to find out whether it was night or day. The heavy breathing was slower and slower, like a great clock winding down,” Mrs. Gehrig wrote.

“Then on the evening of June 2, 1941, suddenly everything was still, and the doctor was by my side. The most beautified expression instantly spread over Lou’s face, and I knew the precise moment he was gone.

“The expression of peace was beyond description. A thing of ecstatic beauty, and seeing it we were awe-stricken and even reassured. We seemed stronger, and not one of us left that room without feeling: There is a better place than this. Wherever it is.”

Jewish baseball history was made by the New York Giants at the Polo Grounds on Sunday, September 21, 1941, as the team had four Jews in its starting lineup – the first and thus far only time that’s happened in the major leagues.

Bronx-born Harry Feldman was making his second big league start after spending most of the season in the minor leagues. Thirty-year-old catcher Harry Danning was calling the pitches for the 21-year-old rookie. (The game marked the first time a Jewish pitcher and a Jewish catcher formed the battery.)

Irwin Cohen

New Jewish Baseball Museum Features Starting Lineup Online

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016

In Israel, homesick baseball fans have tried desperately to start a major league setup — or even a minor league round — or anything, as long as a few teams could play semi-professional baseball.

It worked for one season and then fizzled out. But Americans in Israel never forgot. Families still send their kids to Little League teams each year. Guys gather to play when the weather is good. Bats, balls and gloves abound. It’s out there.

Jews love baseball.

That’s not reflected in baseball’s Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York though, where you’d think there were never any Jewish players. Only two Jewish major leaguers – Sandy Koufax and Hank Greenberg, ‘The Hebrew Hammer’ — ever made it in.

But there were so many others.

Now The Jewish Baseball Museum has gone one better, making the Jewish baseball lover’s dream of seeing a hero’s face immortalized a virtual reality on the Internet.

Creator Jeff Aeder, 54, has taken the concept above and beyond the basic meat-and-potatoes Hall of Fame, but for Aeder it never was about “basic” anyway. The Chicago real estate mogul is one of the biggest collectors of Jewish baseball memorabilia in the United States, the owner of some 2,000 items. His collection is on the site with other things.

Is he a fanatic? He’s a Cubs fan.

But he believes that younger Jewish generations need to know about their sports history, especially in baseball.

Aeder showcases his Rom Blomberg bat with the Star of David on the knob on the site. He also exhibits a letter written by Hank Greenberg to a friend during World War II; these are things that Jews around the world relate to.

How about pre-1990 baseball cards featuring Jewish players? Aeder has 2,500 of those. (Wanna trade?) Consider Lipman Pike, the first Jew who went to the big leagues in 1871. The stories of so many others.

Nearly every Jew who ever made it to The Show is on the site, which features biographies of each Jewish major league player.

One can find a time line of Jewish baseball stories dating from the 1860s, and interviews with former players and prominent personalities in the industry.

Aeder is, perhaps not surprisingly, also a philanthropist. He and his wife, Jennifer Levine, were named 2013 Chicagoans of the Year for opening the Wolcott School, a high school for students with learning challenges.

He’s also the founding owner of Milt’s Barbecue for the Perplexed – a kosher BBQ eatery near Wrigley Field. The home of old-fashioned ribs and sides donates its profits to worthy causes, and is the dining choice of Cubs fans of all faiths, including the 2015 Cy Young Award winner, Jake Arrieta.

Aeder’s next project is likely to be the materialized museum from his virtual launch.

As with the first, the founder’s collection will form the core of the museum’s permanent exhibit, although others are expected to rotate through as well. At present, he’s told media that if the project is a “go” he might build on the city’s North Side; he hopes to open it some time in 2017.

When Theodore Herzl said “If you will it, it is no dream,” he probably had never heard of baseball. How many Jewish baseball fans have ever known of Theodore Herzl?

Aeder did.

Hana Levi Julian

Dodgers Stadium has Minyans but no Kosher Food

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

Could it be that one of America’s largest Jewish communities and kosher markets does not offer kosher fare at its premier ballpark?

Apparently so, say fans who voiced their complaints with the Jewish Journal. Second only to New York, Los Angeles is estimated to have more than 600,000 Jews, yet no kosher food at Dodger Stadium, home of the LA Dodgers for at least the last three years.

A growing number of sports stadiums offer kosher food to accommodate Jewish and Muslim fans. With the 2015 baseball season underway, there will be kosher food in New York, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, San Diego, Washington, Kansas City, San Francisco, Milwaukee, and Seattle. With the exception of New York, all of these cities have far smaller Jewish populations.

Kosher Today spoke to a Dodgers season ticket holder who says he orders in kosher food especially when he entertains. “I don’t get it,” he says. “On any given night you can see many Orthodox Jews and there are even several minyanim, so why no kosher food?”


Kosher Today

Diplomatic Ties with US May Strike Out Baseball in Cuba

Monday, December 29th, 2014

To the dismay of baseball fan Kit Krieger, future travels to Cuba will no longer include get-togethers with ex-Washington Senators pitcher Connie Marrero.

Marrero, who played for Washington from 1950 to 1954, died in Havana last April at age 102, a few months after Krieger’s last visit and three years after Krieger helped arrange for Marrero a $10,000 annual pension from Major League Baseball.

Theirs was a special friendship, one of many forged by Krieger, a Vancouver resident who will return to Cuba in late February — his 30th visit there beginning with a 1997 trip related to his job with the British Columbia teachers federation. That trip spawned a love affair with the country and its baseball scene.

Krieger, 65, would go on to found Cuba Ball, a company bringing baseball-mad tourists to the island nation — a venture begun really to enable himself to visit affordably with groups.

With President Obama’s Dec. 17 announcement on renewing diplomatic relations broken off by the United States in 1961, Krieger sees a double-edged sword: Cuba will emerge from U.S.-imposed isolation, but the country’s professional baseball scene could ultimately disappear, like America’s Negro Leagues following the integration of Major League Baseball.

In the near term, he figures, Cuban baseball will remain unchanged, since the country can hardly be expected to allow foreign teams to poach its premier talent — at least not without hefty payments, as in Japan. Individual players, Krieger adds, are unlikely to risk defecting while knowing that renewed diplomacy could prompt Washington’s lifting of an economic blockade, enabling them to legally sign lucrative contracts abroad.

Following Obama’s announcement, MLB released a statement saying that it will monitor whether the policy shift affects “the manner in which [teams] conduct business on issues related to Cuba.”

Krieger says he sees Cuba as “the largest pool of untapped baseball talent in the world, and no one knows if [the news] will open this pool.” But he fears “the beginning of the end” of a Cuban baseball reality caught in a sweet time warp evoking America of the 1890s. Eventually, Krieger says, Cuban baseball “will become integrated into the international baseball community, which it isn’t now.”

His love for Cuban baseball led him more than a decade ago to join the Society for American Baseball Research, where he recruited like-minded fans for the trips. He’s similarly passionate about family history, frequently conducting research on Jewish genealogy websites. Thanks largely to meticulous records kept by his ancestors, Krieger (his given first name is Ernest) can trace several branches in Poland and Germany back to 1700.

“I can even tell you the name of my grandfather’s mohel,” he quips.

Krieger’s baseball and genealogy interests at times have coincided: His late mother, Ann Kohlberg, grew up in an apartment building at 320 Riverside Drive in Manhattan, across the hall from New York Giants star Mel Ott. Kohlberg’s cousin, Don Taussig, went on to play outfield with the franchise after its move to San Francisco.

While Krieger doesn’t usually seek out Jewish residents or sites while in Cuba, another Jewish traveler, retired professor Oscar Soule, does.

Soule, of Olympia, Wash., who will be traveling with Krieger to Cuba in February, has been to the Caribbean nation five times and makes a point of going to a Havana synagogue on each visit. The draws for him are the baseball games and meetings with government officials, as well as such diamond legends as Omar Linares and Victor Mesa that wouldn’t happen without Krieger.

Marrero, a 5-foot-5 right-hander who posted a 39-40 record in the majors and made the American League’s All-Star team in 1951 at age 40, benefited from Krieger’s attention in his final years as he lost his eyesight and hearing. Krieger solicited notes of appreciation from the aging pitcher’s American contemporaries, all of whom Marrero fondly remembered. More than 90 letters arrived, and scores more for Marrero’s 100th birthday, including from Hall of Famers Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Tommy Lasorda, George Kell and Harmon Killebrew.


Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israel/diplomatic-ties-with-us-may-strike-out-baseball-in-cuba/2014/12/29/

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