The 12 greatest Jewish achievements in baseball after the season - The Forward

The 12 greatest Jewish achievements in baseball after the season – The Forward

Ah, October – when Jewish holidays, fall colors, Halloween and the baseball season combine to provide a particularly festive time of year.

Of course, when we think of Jewish baseball hero in October, we immediately (and understandably) think of Sandy Koufax. But while “Left Arm of God” certainly ranks high on any list of incredible World Series performances, Koufax is hardly the only member of the tribe who has made a memorable mark in the post-season. Here, more or less in ascending order of greatness, there are a dozen lasting October appearances by Jewish MLB players.

Erskine Mayer (1915)

Here’s a big trivia question: Who was the first Jewish jug to appear in a World Series? The answer is Philadelphia Phillies hurler Mayer, who also made history in 1914 by winning 21 games, becoming the first Jewish jug to hit the 20-mark mark. In 1915, he repeated this feat and achieved further immortality by starting Game 2 of this year’s World Series. Mayer struck a tense complete duel against Boston Red Sox starter Rube Foster, knocking out seven and giving up his only earned race at the top of the 9th when Foster singled in a race to break the score 1-1. Although he went home with the “L”, Mayer’s impressive performance on the game’s biggest stage was a source of pride for Jewish baseball fans everywhere.

The 12 greatest Jewish achievements in baseball playoff history

11. Brad Ausmus (2005)

Then he felt more for the glove (and hunky look) than his bat, and Houston Astros catcher Brad Ausmus hit the biggest homer in his Game 4 career in the 2005 National League Division Series. With two outs at the bottom of the ninth, and the Astros after the Atlanta Braves 6-5, Ausmus put a 2-0 pitch from Kyle Farnsworth just above the yellow “home run” line on the left-center wall in Minute Maid Park. . The battle not only tied the game, but it also set the stage for the Astros’ victory with an 18-round 7-6 victory, which put the franchise on the road to its first ever World Series appearance.

Craig Breslow (2013)

Left-handed relief Breslow came out of the Red Sox bullpen to earn the Boston Series victory in the 4-win over the Tampa Bay Rays in 2013 ALDS, and he did it in style. By substituting Jake Peavy starting at the bottom of the sixth with two outs, one on and making it 1-0, Breslow went on to strike out four straight strokes in the heart of the Rays’ order – first waving James Loney to end the sixth , and then (after the Red Sox took a 2-1 lead at the top of the frame) Evan Longoria, Ben Zobrist and Desmond Jennings struck out at the bottom of the 7th.

9. Art Shamsky (1969)

Despite suffering an all-season slash that caused him constant pain (and got a doctor to tell him he’s never going to play again), New York Mets fan favorite Shamsky .300 beat as a left-handed contestant in 1969. , and then actually turned it on in time for the team’s NL Championship Series against the Atlanta Braves. Shamsky led all players in the series with three games with seven hits and a strike of .538, as the Miracle Mets swept the Braves and advanced to their fateful World Series showdown with the Baltimore Orioles.

Kevin Youkilis (2007)

Immortalized in “Moneyball” as “The Greek God of Walks” for his innate ability to draw a base on balls, Youk (not really Greek, but very definitely Jewish) was about making contact during the 2007 American League Championship Series; he hit an LCS record-breaking 14 hits outside the Cleveland Indians’ pitching staff, helping the Red Sox take the series in seven games on its way to crushing the Colorado Rockies in the World Series. Youkilis finished the series with three home runs, seven RBIs and a whopping .500 / .576 / .929 slash line; he also went five times, presumably because he had a reputation to maintain.

The 12 greatest Jewish achievements in baseball playoff history

7. Joc Pederson (2020)

While Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Pederson just hit. 190 during the weird, pandemic-shorted 2020 season, he somehow got it all in time for the post-season. After going 2-on-3 with a central two-run single against the San Diego Padres in the Game 3 of NLDS league game, he hit .389 with seven hits, one home run and three RBI against the Braves in the NLCS, then went 4-on -10 against the rays of the World Series, including a solo homer who would eventually prove to be the winner in the Dodgers’ 4-2 Game 5 victory. In total, Pederson struck. 394 for October, and helped the Dodgers bring home their first World Cup trophy since 1988.

6. Ken Holtzman (1974)

Here’s another trivial question: Who is the winning Jewish jug of all time? Most will say Sandy Koufax, but Ken Holtzman is the correct answer, having won seven more regular season games (174 to 167) than Koufax. Holtzman was also a valuable postseason, helping to put the Oakland A three to three straight World Cups, winning six games and leaving a 2.30 ERA in 13 playoffs and World Series appearances from 1972 to 1975. In 1974, the left threw a five- hit end to a tough Baltimore Orioles squad in Game 2 of the ALCS, and then (after a difficult start in Game 1) beat the Dodgers 5-2 in Game 4, helping their own case with a solo home run by the LA- esset Andy Messersmith.

5. Hank Greenberg (1940)

After hitting .321 in the 1934 World Series (which his Detroit Tigers lost in seven games to the St. Louis Cardinals) and missing most of the 1935 Detroit World Series victory over the Chicago Cubs due to injury, “The Hebrew Hammer” came on as a one-man destructive team when the Tigers met the Cincinnati Reds in 1940. Greenberg led all the players in the series with 10 hits, and in Game 5 drove in four races with a home run and a sacrificial flight to give the Tigers a 2-3 advantage in the series . But despite Hanks’ record hero, the Reds came back to take it in seven games.

Hank Greenberg (1945)

Dismissed from the Army Air Corps just 3 and a half months before, Greenberg was positively explosive during the Tigers’ return to the World Series, leading his team with seven hits, three doubles, two home runs and seven RBIs, while also tying for the lead with 7 ran scored. (His .304 / .467 / .696 line was not too shabby either.) The future Hall of Famer’s last turn in Game 7, a sacrificial plane by Cubs hurler Claude Passeau, put the final nail in Chicago’s coffin as the Tigers won the World Cup with a 9-3 victory.

3. Larry Sherry (1959)

Here’s a third trivia question that will surely win you a beer or bagel or whatever you want to bet on: Who was the first Jewish player to be named World Series MVP? Again, the odds are good that you’ll get “Sandy Koufax” in response, but it was actually Dodger’s howl Larry Sherry. Although the newcomer’s right-hander had gone 7-2 with a 2.19 ERA in 23 games (9 starts and 14 in relief) since joining the team in July 1959, no one expected him to play such a dominant role in this year’s World Series. . But Sherry ended up having a hand in all four of the Dodgers’ wins over the Chicago White Sox, saving Game 2 and Game 3, and then chopping relief wins in games 4 and 6. He allowed only one earned run in 12 2/3 innings , scattering eight hits and just two strokes, while hitting five; he also went 2-for-4 on the plate.

Sandy Koufax (1963)

Dodgers ace Koufax entered the World Series ’63 as National League leader in wins (25), ERA (1.88), strikeouts (306) and shutouts (11); yet the New York Yankees did not expect him to be as formidable an opponent as he proved. After tying a World Series record by striking out the first five strokes he faced, the left-hander waved ten more for a single-record World Series record of 15 as he crossed to a 5-2 Game 1 victory over the defending two-time world field. Four days later, he outsmarted Whitey Ford to a 2-1 victory, knocked out eight and went nowhere as the Dodgers completed their surprise celebration of the Bronx Bombers. Koufax was named the World Series MVP for what could still be the biggest World Series performance ever by a Jewish player, if he had not returned to the “October Classic” in 1965 …

Sandy Koufax (1965)

After once again winning the NL triple crown in 1965 by winning 26 matches, posting a 2.04 ERA and setting a record in a single season with 382 strikeouts, Koufax made several headlines (and continued to love Jewish fans) by refuses to play the opening game of the World Series due to its convergence with Yom Kippur. Although the Minnesota Twins managed to beat him in Game 2, Koufax took his revenge by throwing two straight finishes in complete play in Game 5 and Game 7, the latter throwing on just two days’ rest. He finished the series with a 0.38 ERA, after allowing only one earned race in 24 laps while winning 29 strikes – the numbers became even more impressive in that Koufax initially ran on smoke at this point. He was once again named World Series MVP, making him the first player to receive the award twice; to date, only other Hall of Famers Bob Gibson and Reggie Jackson have matched that feat.

The 12 greatest Jewish achievements in baseball playoff history

Dan Epstein is Forwarden’s contributing music critic.

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