Photo Credit: Jewish Press

It’s over three months since my amazing wife’s passing and I’m still cleaning out our apartment and what we had in the basement storage locker. I paid someone to do the shlepping and I set up my work station on the dining room table going through everything in each box.

While keeping up with the baseball news, I relived the past through pictures of us as we visited several ballparks around the country and saved menus from kosher eateries from those cities. As I was going through west coast envelopes, I came across a letter from actor Steven Hill dated 1966.


I stopped and recalled how it came about. It was a Saturday night 57 years ago and Rebbetzin Wasserman, wife of Reb Simcha, rang the bell. She was in town visiting from Los Angeles where her husband established the West Coast Talmudical Academy. She came to visit my mother and the ladies became friends in 1945 when her husband accepted the post of principal to the newly established Yeshivah Beth Yehuda in Detroit. The Rebbetzin became a popular teacher among the youngsters and I can verify that as I was one of the youngsters.

As she entered the house, she noticed our television and asked if I watched, “Mission Impossible.” “Yes,” I said, and she mentioned some stories about Steven Hill, the actor who oversaw the missions of the team. “He learns with my husband and even has his wardrobe tested for shatnez before he wears it,” she related. I told her that I would invite him for a Shabbos if he ever came to Detroit. She gave me the address and I wrote. Within two weeks I received a small light blue envelope from Orange Street. In his handwriting he thanked me for writing and for the invitation which he hoped to accept if circumstances brought him to Detroit. Steven Hill signed it Shlomo Ben Hillel and his name underneath.

Underneath some siddurim, I found a small, three-and-a-half inch by four-and-a-half white paperback siddur given out at a Bais Yaakov convention held in Detroit about 20 years ago. We hosted girls from out of town when we had a house and one must have forgotten or lost it. The name inside the cover is Frayde Fried. I hope she’s a long-married lady now and I’m hoping that one of you dear readers would know of her and can tell me where I can send it. That would really brighten up my day.

It was a sad day for me when I learned of the firing of Chaim Bloom, who had the title of the “Chief Baseball Officer of the Boston Red Sox.” Chaim was in charge of trades, free agent signings, and improving the team and the minor league system. The 40-year-old Bloom was the most observant of the many Jews in top positions in the major leagues. A graduate of Conservative Day Schools in the Philadelphia area, the Blooms kept a kosher home and Shabbat family meals were very important. Team owners had to blame someone for the poor record the Red Sox managed this year and felt that Bloom provided the players for manager Alex Cora. The BoSox were hit by injuries to key players but the manager also has to take the blame for the uninspiring play of the team.

Let’s put this scenario to the Yankees who had their share of injuries as well. Who should get the ax, general manager Brian Cashman or manager Aaron Boone? Or both?

Or was it just a case of injuries combined with a bunch of players who had bad years. The Yanks need to do something dramatic, such as signing free agent Shohei Otani. Even with his surgery to repair a torn ligament in the throwing elbow in September that will keep him from pitching next season, Otani will still be able to play as a hitter. The medics say he should be able to pitch again in 2025.

Otani was a tremendous two-way superstar in his somewhat shortened 2023 season. As a hitter he collected 44 home runs while batting .304. through September 3, when his season ended. As a pitcher he had a 10-5 won lost record and a good earned run average of 3.20 when he was shut down as a pitcher on August 23. Even sidelined as a pitcher next season, Otani will receive baseball’s highest free agent contract in history during the off-season. The Yankees can’t afford to not sign him as the left-handed power hitter could rewrite home run records in cozy Yankee Stadium.


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Author, columnist, Irwin Cohen headed a national baseball publication for five years and interviewed many legends of the game before accepting a front office position with the Detroit Tigers where he became the first orthodox Jew to earn a World Series ring (1984).