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The boys of autumn

Jewish Major Leaguers make major impact in Series

Sandy Koufax was named World Series MVP twice.
Sandy Koufax was named World Series MVP twice.

Of the 170 or so Jews who have played Major League baseball (out of a total of 18,174, according to Baseball-Reference.com), 24 have had the joy of extending their seasons into October. Boston Red Sox reliever (and Yale graduate) Craig Breslow is the latest. [Editor’s note: This story was written with the Red Sox leading the St. Louis Cardinals three games to two.]

Several ballplayers made substantial contributions to their teams’ success:

It might be an overstatement, but I’m guessing the majority of adult Jews, sports fans or not, know about Sandy Koufax’s decision to refrain from playing when the opening game of the 1965 World Series against the Minnesota Twins began on Yom Kippur. Koufax was 2-1 in that Series, winning the finale, 2-0, to give the Los Angeles Dodgers the championship. In all, “Dandy Sandy” appeared in four World Series. In addition to ‘65, he faced the Chicago White Sox in 1959 (0-1 in two games); the NY Yankees in 1963 (2-0, where he also won the final game); and the Baltimore Orioles in 1966 (0-1). He was named World Series MVP in 1963 and 1965 and retired shortly after the 1966 games at the age of 30.

Like Koufax, Hank Greenberg played in four World Series with the Detroit Tigers: 1934 against the Cardinals; 1935, Chicago Cubs; 1940, Cincinnati Reds; 1945, Cubs. Greenberg totaled 27 hits in 87 at bats, including seven doubles, two triples, and five home runs; he also scored 17 runs and drove in 22.

In the 1959 series between the Dodgers and Chicago White Sox, Koufax’s teammate Larry Sherry won two games and saved the other two, for which he was named World Series MVP.

Erskine Mayer was the only Jew on the infamous 1919 Black Sox, out of whose members allegedly conspired to “throw” their World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. Erskine appeared in the fifth game, giving up one unearned run in one inning in a losing effort. He also appeared in the 1916 Series as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies against the Boston nine.

And let’s not forget about Barney Dreyfuss, owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates, who is credited with coming up with the idea of a World Series to determine baseball’s annual champion. Dreyfuss was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 2008 and inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 1979.

The rest of the gang

Ruben Amaro, Jr., the current general manager of the Philadelphia Phillies, appeared in two games for the Cleveland Indians against the Atlanta Braves in 1995.

Morrie Arnovich appeared in one game for the Cincinnati Reds, in the 1940 series against the Detroit Tigers. He was 0-1 with a sacrifice hit.

Brad Ausmus made it to the Series in 2005 for the only time in his 18-year career as a member of the Houston Astros against the Chicago White Sox. Ausmus had four hits in 16 at bats with one run, a double, a walk, and three strikeouts.

Cy Block made his only World Series appearance as a pinch-runner for the Chicago Cubs in the sixth game of their 1945 set against Greenberg and the Tigers. Not bad considering he appeared in only two regular season games and just 17 in a three-year career that was interrupted by service in World War II.

Lou Boudreau was the player-manager of the 1948 Cleveland Indians, who beat the Boston Braves, four games to two. Boudreau led by example, with six hits (four doubles) in 22 at bats and three runs batted in.

Harry Danning appeared in the 1936 and 1937 World Series for the New York Giants against cross-river rival Yankees (who won both series). Danning appeared in two games in ‘36 and three the following year.

Mike Epstein was hitless in 16 at bats for the Oakland As in their 1972 series triumph over the Cincinnati Reds.

Scott Feldman appeared in five games for the 2011 Texas Rangers in their loss to the Cardinals. He allowed five runs on five hits in five innings, walking six and striking out two.

Ken Holtzman was a member of the Oakland club that won three consecutive Series titles, from 1972 to 1974. He appeared in a total of seven games, posting a record of 4-1, including the clincher in the 1973 series against the NY Mets.

Gabe Kapler appeared in four games for the Red Sox in their 2004 sweep of the Cardinals. He was 0-2 with one strikeout. It was the Sox’s first world championship in 86 years.

Ian Kinsler and the Rangers made it to back-to-back World Series: 2010 (losing to the San Francisco Giants) and 2011 (losing to the Cardinals).

Elliott Maddox appeared in two games for the Yankees in their four-game sweep at the hands of the Reds in 1976.

Jason Marquis was the losing pitcher for the Cardinals in the final game of the 2004 Series against the Red Sox.

Buddy Myer was a 17-year veteran who played mostly for the Washington Senators, for whom he appeared in two World Series: 1925 against the Pittsburgh Pirates and 1933 against the NY Giants. The Nats lost both times.

Al Rosen was a member of Boudreau’s “Tribe” in 1948 (see how it works both ways?). He appeared in just five games during the regular season but got a shot in the Fall Classic, going 0-1 in one game against the Braves. Six years later, Rosen had three singles in 12 at bats in a sweep at the hands of the Giants.

Scott Schoeneweis allowed one hit and gave up a walk in two innings over two games for the California Angels in their win over the San Francisco Giants in 2002.

Art Shamsky was 0-6 in six appearances in the Mets’ five-game win over the Baltimore Orioles.

Steve Stone pitched in Game Four for the Baltimore Orioles against the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1979.

Kevin Youkilis appeared in all four games for the Red Sox in their 2007 sweep against the Colorado Rockies. He was a member of the 2004 team and played in the ALDS, but was not included on the World Series roster.

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