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October 24, 2016 / 22 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Chicago Cubs’

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

On Jewish Pitchers – And Some Departed Heroes

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

            Jason Marquis became the first Jewish pitcher in 31 years to collect 100
career victories. Pitching for the Washington Nationals this year, Marquis (pronounced Mar-kee) earned his first big-league win ten years ago by beating the Mets at
Shea Stadium while pitching for the Atlanta Braves. Jason, who’ll turn 33 on
August 2, has also pitched for the St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago Cubs and Colorado


A native of Manhasset, New York, and raised in a Conservative Jewish home,
Jason had a smattering of Hebrew school and a bar mitzvah. When he collects
his 108th career victory, he’ll pass Steve Stone to place third on the all-time
Jewish pitcher career win list. Sandy Koufax, who won 165 games, is in second
place and Ken Holtzman is first with 174. Holtzman also leads all Jewish
pitchers in losses with 150 (Koufax lost just 87 games).


Steve Stone, presently in third place, had a 107-93 career record. Marquis had
93 losses when he won his 100th game.


Back to Koufax for a bit. It’s hard to fathom that he’s 75 years old now and has been retired for 45 years. Jews of my generation have vivid memories of Koufax and what his pitching prowess meant to us. I was a chaplain’s assistant at Fort Dix, New
Jersey, when Koufax was in his prime in his last couple of seasons and he was
the main topic of conversation when Jewish soldiers schmoozed.


* * * * *


Baseball recently lost several remarkable personalities. I was lucky
enough to have met Duke Snider and Harmon Killebrew several times on the baseball
beat. Both were real gentle men and gentlemen. They played in the pre-steroid
era when home runs weren’t tainted.


Killebrew, 74 when he died, had 573 home runs to his name over a
22-year career with the Washington Senators, Minnesota Twins and Kansas City
Royals. He grew up in Idaho playing on the grass at the family home. When his
mother complained to his father about the boys using the lawn for their playing
field, Mr. Killebrew responded, “we’re raising boys, not grass.”


He was known as the Duke of Flatbush when he played for the Brooklyn
Dodgers and was the favorite player of many a Jewish boy in Brooklyn in the
1950s – including Rabbi Paysach Krohn.


Snider, 84 when he died, compiled a .295 lifetime batting average and 407
home runs in his 18 seasons (1947-1964) with Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers,
New York Mets and San Francisco Giants. Snider was at the top of his game with Brooklyn as he topped 40 or more home runs for five consecutive years (1953-1957).


From 1953 through 1956, Snider averaged 42 homers, 124 RBI and a .320
average. The Duke, fittingly, was the last player to hit a home run in the
history of Ebbets Field (1957).


For those of us who collected baseball cards in the 1950s, Gil McDougald and
Marty Marion were familiar names and faces.


McDougald, who spent his ten-year major-league career with the Yankees as an
infielder, died at age 82. A .276 lifetime hitter, he was a valuable member of the
Yankees, helping the club to eight World Series trips during his time in New York – all under manager Casey Stengel.


Marty Marion was 93 when he died. The slim, smooth-fielding shortstop spent
his entire l3-year career in St. Louis (11 with the Cardinals and two years with
the Browns of blessed memory). Marion also managed both St. Louis teams and the
Chicago White Sox.



 To order Irwin Cohen’s book about an Orthodox Jew in the baseball field, send
a check for $19.95, payable to Irwin Cohen, to: 25921 Stratford Place, Oak
Park, Mich. 48237. The book contains numerous photos of legendary players taken
by Cohen

Irwin Cohen

Baseball Shakes Off Its Winter Slumber

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

Baseball is back. And for the first time, half the 30 major league clubs are holding spring training in the Phoenix area.


I recommend Phoenix over Florida for fans thinking to spend their vacation getting a first-hand view of spring training. Traveling between training sites is quicker and hotel-motel rates are much more reasonable in Arizona; most of the time you can get from one facility to the next in about 15 minutes just by using surface streets.


Kosher food is no problem as Phoenix has a kosher eatery and neighboring Scottsdale has one you should try (check out The Jewish Press Dining Guide) with a shul next door and another nearby. Only a couple of miles down the road is the spring home of the World Champion San Francisco Giants. The Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies also train in Scottsdale about six miles from the Giants and the kosher eatery and adjoining store is almost in the middle.


Other teams in the Phoenix area are the Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Los Angeles Dodgers, Milwaukee Brewers, Oakland A’s, San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers.


Florida, though, is where most of us will focus. The Red Sox in Ft. Myers are expected to run away with the American League East this season now that speedy outfielder Carl Crawford and slugging first baseman Adrian Gonzalez have joined Red Sox Nation.


The Yankees in Tampa are older and lost pitcher Any Pettitte to retirement. The Tigers in Lakeland are in their 75th year of training in that mid-Florida town where Hank Greenberg spent his springs. While things looked great for a super season when training camp opened for Detroit fans, superstar first baseman Miguel Cabrera, who’s had problems with alcohol in the past, was arrested for being heavily intoxicated and spent a night in a Florida slammer. If he can stay away from the bottle and approach last year’s stats (.328 average, 38 homers), the Tigers have hopes of a post-season berth.



Media people keep a close eye on the Yankees at

George Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Florida



The best first baseman – possibly the best player – on the planet is training in Jupiter. Florida, that is. Albert Pujols (.312, 42 homers last year) claims he’s playing out the last year of his contract and won’t negotiate until the end of the season when the Cardinals will have a small window of opportunity to overpay him before he opts for free agency and collects the biggest contract ever given in sports.


While megabucks players get the most publicity, spring training is a time for hope for those holding on to their dream of trying to make and stay in the big leagues.


A sad scene is always played out a few weeks into spring training at the players’ exits in the various ballparks, The happy chatter of the waiting wives is quickly interrupted by total silence when a player exits carrying all of his belongings over his shoulder in a large duffle bag.


That means, of course, the player was just told of his outright release or is being sent down to a minor league level. Only those who have lost a job or been informed they can only stay with a company if they relocate and receive a much lower rate of pay can understand what it means.


For the fan, however, it’s a great time as we have great expectations. I’m watching all the teams closely and monitoring and taping many games on the MLB channel.


   I’ll give you my predictions for the 2011 season next month. In the meantime, send me yours. And speaking of sending, thanks to those of you who sent for my new book telling how Hashem orchestrated events to get me into baseball press boxes and eventually work for a major league team. In the book I reveal what my salary was and other inside info.



   To order Irwin Cohen’s book, send a check for $19.95 payable to Irwin Cohen (includes postage & handling). Mail to: 25921 Stratford Place, Oak Park, Michigan, 48237. Cohen may be reached in his dugout at irdav@sbcglobal.net.

Irwin Cohen

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/sports/baseball-shakes-off-its-winter-slumber-2/2011/03/09/

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