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All Star Israel Softball League: Smooth sailing for Segwayz

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

In the second week of the All Star Israel Softball League season, and the opener for Segwayz, the outcome was never in doubt, as Ari Sussman helped his team glide to a smooth 13-0 victory over Jerry’s Kids.

Sussman commended his team after the game, deflecting credit from himself. “Our defense is really humming along, and our power is downright electric. With that great Segwayz balance, it’s just a pleasure to be along for the ride.”

Ari Kafka earned the shut-out on the mound.

Meanwhile, after low-scoring affairs in their respective season openers, the Brooklyn Lightning and Torah Tidbits came out gunning. Torah Tidbits jumped out to a four-run lead in the first, but the Lightning battled back, and the game remained tight until the last inning. Tidbits entered the final frame with a 10-9 lead, when a clutch two-out bases-loaded triple gave the Lightning a 12-10 victory.

Tidbits have lost two straight games by the slim total of 3 runs, but they took heart in their performance; every Tidbits player recorded at least one hit, and Eytan Baratz, the team’s batting leader, continued to shine, knocking in several RBIs and firing in another assist from left field to the plate.

In a rematch of last season’s Holyland Series, Lobos looked for revenge, but it was Café Rimon who prevailed – though all agreed that this encounter would pale in significance to a potential postseason meeting.

Captain Nussi Jacobovitch got Rimon on the scoreboard early, doubling in Pinny Itzkowitz, and then himself scoring on a Yitzy Miller double. Rimon extended the lead on Chaim Webber’s bases-loaded triple, while Lobos responded with a pair of runs in the fourth. Pitcher Yaacov Ehrlich hung on to the tense lead the rest of the way, and in the top of the last Miller tripled home Jacobowitz and Itzkowitz for insurance.

In other action, Bagelsbergs pulled away from Janglo for a 14-6 victory. And it was another impressive victory for Lakewood Heimeshe Bake Shoppe, who faced Segwayz in their second game of the week, keeping their record perfect with a 10-1 win.

For all the latest news, schedules and scores, visit www.israelsoftball.com.

Big Opening Day in All Star Israel Softball League

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

There was lots of exciting opening day action in the All Star Israel Softball League, as fans were treated to two tight pitchers’ duels and two big slugfests.

In the season premier, perennial contender Jerry’s Kids had veteran pitcher Abba Stein on the mound, and he allowed only a solitary run against newcomers Lakewood Heimishe Bake Shoppe – but that run was enough for a win, as rookie phenom Dovi Fass fired a complete game shut-out. Yisrael Guttman broke the scoreless tie with an RBI triple in the fifth, and great defense locked down the 1-0 win for Lakewood Heimishe Bake Shoppe.

In another defensive classic, Bagelsbergs and Torah Tidbits each looked perfect on the mound and in the field, before Bagelsberg’s three-sport star Yisrael Feld and Jacob Kellner hit a pair of solo home runs in the last three innings. Pitcher A.J Fuchs earned the victory, getting out of several Torah Tidbits threats in the final few frames.

Behind the plate

Lobos launched their campaign to recapture the title by breaking open a close game with the Brooklyn Lightning.  Last season’s runner-up, Lobos took a tense 4-2 lead into the sixth inning, then knocked in five runs, followed by a parade of eight more in the seventh, for a 17-4 final.

In the nightcap, reigning champs Café Rimon began their title defense in typical fashion, combining consistency, power, and crafty pitching for a convincing victory over Janglo. Captain Nussi Jacobovitch looked to add his name to those of his dynastic brothers on the Holyland Series Trophy, powering his team with clutch hitting, as Rimon scored in every inning but one, while star pitcher Yaacov Ehrlich allowed only one run, for the win.

For Standings, Scores, News and Schedules go to www.israelsoftball.com.

Some Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Jewish Major Leaguers

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

Nearly all fans of baseball history have heard of Hank Greenberg. Most have heard of Al Rosen. But fewer have heard of Cal Abrams, and hardly any, it’s safe to say, have heard of Lou Limmer. All four are members of a compelling team – American Jews who played Major League Baseball.

Why should we care about Jews who played in the Major Leagues?

Baseball helped American Jews feel at home and helped non-Jewish Americans feel comfortable around them. For instance, there’s the famous Greenberg story of sitting out a game on Yom Kippur in 1934. The actions of the slugging Tigers’ first baseman along with his home runs made him a hero to Jews and non-Jews.

The conundrum of whether to play on Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, has resurfaced for many players, from Sandy Koufax deciding not to pitch in the first game of the 1965 World Series to, more recently, outfielder Shawn Green, both of the Dodgers. Every time a star player rests on the High Holidays, it generates national headlines and fosters Jewish pride. Of course, non-stars have to make the same call.

The story of Jews in baseball goes beyond the well-trod turf of the “High Holidays dilemma.” Rebutting anti-Semitism and fighting hecklers was not uncommon for Jewish players, even when the hecklers were on the opposing bench. In particular Rosen, a former amateur boxer, wasn’t shy about taking on hecklers.

Racial awareness is another theme. Most Jewish players understood some of the prejudices faced by black players. Some, like Abrams, felt a special bond with their black teammates.

“I associated with them because we had a rapport about being with each other,” Abrams said of his black teammates on the Brooklyn Dodgers, including Jackie Robinson. “We kibitzed around with each other, but I didn’t go out with them. I mean, I wouldn’t go into the end of town to go dancing with the black people, but whenever we could we were together clowning around and kidding around.”

Jewish pride is a recurrent trope, too. Ron Blomberg made many New York Yankees ushers happy when he made his debut for the team in 1967.

“Most of them were Jewish, with names like Hymowitz or Lichstein, and three or four of them told me they never thought they would ever see a Jew play baseball in Yankee Stadium,” Blomberg recalled. “They had tears in the eyes and said to me, ‘You little Yid, you’re someone I can look up to now.’ ”

Pride in being Jewish is one thing, but being actively Jewish is another – most Jewish players, like most American Jews, weren’t observant. Many were raised Orthodox but none seemed to have maintained this level of observance as adults. It makes sense: Eating kosher food and maintaining any sense of Shabbat would be impossible while pursuing a professional baseball career.

The collective accomplishments of Jewish Major Leaguers likely would surprise most people. Jews, who made up about 3 percent of the U.S. population during the 20th century, made up just 0.8 percent of baseball players from 1871 to 2002, the latest year for which the nonprofit organization Jewish Major Leaguers has complete figures. But Jewish players on the whole have fared better than average. They hit 2,032 homers — 0.9 percent of the Major League total, and a bit higher than would be expected by their percentage of all players. Their .265 batting average is 3 percentage points higher than the overall average.

Jewish pitchers are 20 games above .500, with six of baseball’s first 230 no-hitters (four by Sandy Koufax, including a perfect game, and two by Ken Holtzman). The group ERA is 3.66, slightly lower than the 3.77 by all Major Leaguer hurlers. With the recent influx of top-flight Jewish Major Leaguers, the statistics even may have improved since 2002.

The stat in which Jews have fallen short is stolen bases, with a total of 995 through 2002 – many fewer than Rickey Henderson stole all by himself. Apparently, Jewish players have observed the Eighth Commandment: “Thou shalt not steal.”

Of the 141 Jewish-identified Major Leaguers as of 2002, 122 were born into families in which both parents were Jewish and 13 had one Jewish parent (seven with a Jewish father and six with a Jewish mother). Six players – including Elliott Maddox, an African American – converted to Judaism. Sixty-eight players hailed from New York or California, and the rest were born in 21 other states, as well as Russia, France, Canada and the Dominican Republic. Ten players changed their last names, all but one of them before Greenberg played.

Lou Limmer, by the way, was a slugger who played for the Philadelphia Athletics in 1951 and 1954.

Peter Ephross is the editor of the recently published “Jewish Major Leaguers in Their Own Words: Oral Histories of 23 Players,” from which this was excerpted.

GOP Offers Netanyahu the Presidency

Friday, March 9th, 2012

Rumors emerged over Purim on Capitol Hill, that the Republican Party, splintered and struggling at the polls, has offered Israeli PM Bibi Netanyahu the opportunity to run as their candidate in the upcoming United States Presidential election.

An off-the-record source confided:

“According to our latest polls, the only one who can topple President Obama in an election is Netanyahu. The Americans love his square jaw and tough John Wayne stare. Let’s face it – you get chills when Bibi speaks in English. Everyone else on our list sounds like some hillbilly who got drunk at a football game or some Evangelist church party.
With our Republican control over the Congress, we can pass a law allowing a foreigner to be President. If Netanyahu accepts our offer, it’ll be good for us and good for him. This way, Israel will have America’s entire military arsenal behind them to blow Teheran and Ahmadinejad sky high off the map.”

Over Purim, the JewishPress.com tried to reach the office of the Israeli Prime Minister, but he has refused to comment if he will be accepting the offer.

Basketball Semifinals: Lobos vs. Yak Pak, Hawke & Co. vs. Jerry’s Kids

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

The Semifinals of the “Red and Dr. Murray’s” Israel Basketball League saw full-hearted, hard-played, all-out all battles between the league’s best, as Lobos faced Yak Pak, while Hawke & Co. took on Jerry’s Kids.

In the first game, Lobos started off playing more organized basketball, and their attack – led by team captain Aryeh Rudman – looked very sharp. The defending champs ran off to an early lead, and went into half time with a seemingly comfortable double digit advantage.

After the break, Yak Pak came out stronger and faster, and it quickly became apparent that the game was far from over. Inexorably, Yak Pak clawed their way back, tied the game, and with just a minute left to play took a one point lead. Lobos were not about to let their championship title slip away, however. Rudman once again came through in the clutch, scoring two huge three-pointers in the final minute, for a 47-45 Lobos victory, sending Lobos to their second straight championship game and giving them a chance for a back-to-back championship run.

In the second semifinal game, undefeated Hawke & Co. faced Jerry’s Kids. The game started out as a tight battle, with both teams playing very well. Hawke & Co’s superstar guard Yisrael Feld then took the game to another level, lighting up for 10 straight points, and the entire Hawke & Co. squad found an almost unbelievable shooting rhythm. Jerry’s Kids answered with an impressive display of their own, led by captain and star point guard Meir Schattner (26 points), but they could not keep pace with the red-hot Hawke offense, and Hawke & Co. ran away with a huge 71-48 victory.

Feld finished with a game-high 27 points, while Yitz Medlowitz kept the lead secure with a stunning barrage of three-pointers, sending Hawke & Co. to a highly-anticipated championship game against Lobos. The two teams met earlier in the season, in a highly-charged game that not only went to overtime, but was decided in Hawke & Co.’s favor on a controversial call at the buzzer.

Texas Orthodox Jewish School Loses Bball Final

Monday, March 5th, 2012

The NY Times reports that Robert M. Beren Academy, an Orthodox Jewish high school which succeeded in its appeal to reschedule a semi-final game of the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools from Shabbat to Friday afternoon last week, on Saturday night lost to Abilene Christian, 46-42, in the state championship game.

The final, moved from Shabbat afternoon, was played at 8 p.m. at a Catholic school in Fort Worth. Beren Academy trailed for much of the first two quarters before tying the score at halftime, 19-19. But the Jewish team failed to keep pace with Abilene in the second half.

“We’re just happy they had a chance to play,” Beren Academy Coach Chris Cole said.

Orthodox Bball Team Wins Rescheduled Pre-Shabbat Semifinal Match

Saturday, March 3rd, 2012

The Robert Beren Academy of Houston has advanced to the finals in a victory over both their opponents, Dallas Covenant Academy, and the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools, which had refused to move the game off the Shabbat schedule.

After mounting public pressure, the league bureaucrats gave in and permitted the semi-final game to take place 2:00 p.m. last Friday. The Beren Academy won 58-46, and is advancing to the final, which will be played next Saturday night at 8 p.m., well after the end of Shabbat.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/orthodox-bball-team-wins-rescheduled-pre-shabbat-semifinal-match/2012/03/03/

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