Jacob Steinmetz is the first Orthodox Jewish baseball player in the Major Leagues. The 17-year-old right-hander is 6-foot-5 tall and weighs 220-pounds. He hails from Woodmere, Long Island, but his new home away from home is with the Arizona Diamondbacks, who drafted him on Monday.
Now here’s a permanent challenge for Chabad Houses around the country: get Jacob a minyan and host him for Shabbat wherever he’s pitching.
The NY Post explained to its readers on Monday: “Steinmetz keeps kosher and observes the Sabbath. From sundown Friday until sunset on Saturday, he cannot ride in a car, bus, train, or plane. He can only walk. For baseball tournaments, he traveled ahead of time and arranged hotels within walking distance of the fields. Sometimes, that meant five-mile hikes the day he pitches. He does play during the Sabbath and on Jewish holidays, and explained to teams during the draft process how he could continue to juggle both his faith and baseball career.”
We presume the playing on Shabbes and Yomim Tovim probably does not include Yom Kippur, as every Jewish American child is familiar with the tale of southpaw Sandy Koufax (born Sanford Braun), the youngest player ever elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, who refused to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series for the Dodgers because it fell on Yom Kippur.
But Koufax was described by Sports Illustrated’s John Rosengren as a secular Jew, even though author/lawyer Larry Ruttman called him an icon for Jewish people because of his “deep respect for his Judaism.” Steinmetz, on the other hand, is a true Frumie.
JTA pointed out on Monday that since starting pitchers in the majors pitch every five days, Steinmetz could theoretically go an entire season without having to play on Shabbat.
In case you were wondering, the Diamondbacks are in last place in the National League West with a horrific, 283 winning percentage and 32.5 games behind the SF Giants in first place.
Anyway, the call is out to Chabadniks everywhere – there’s a religious Jewish young pitcher out there in need of a minyan.