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Wednesday, August 04, 2021

‘21 draftees blazing trail for Orthodox Jews

When Jacob Steinmetz was drafted in the third round by the Arizona D-backs and Elie Kligman was selected by the Nationals in Round 20, they became the first Orthodox Jews to ever get drafted, dating back to 1965.

To understand why this is so exciting, some historical context is necessary.

The history of Jews in the United States has been intertwined with baseball for decades. When my ancestors came through Ellis Island and saw the Statue of Liberty’s message, penned by Emma Lazarus—“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”—one of the quickest ways these newest Americans were able to breathe free and feel, well, American, was through the game of baseball. That’s why, for our people, it always has been, and always will be the national pastime.

With that embracing of the game, however, has come a certain measure of assimilation. Immigrants often gave up parts of who they were to fit in, and that included players who were good enough to make it to the Major Leagues. As MLB historian John Thorn wrote in his essay, “Overcome Adversity,” which originally appeared in the book Chasing Dreams: Baseball & Becoming American, names were often changed to avoid the hatred that sometimes came with being outwardly Jewish.

“Sammy Bohne and Phil Cooney were also born as Cohen, as were Harry Kane and Reuben Ewing,” Thorn wrote. “Jesse Baker was born Michael Silverman. Henry Lifschutz became Henry Bostick. Joe Rosenblum became Joe Bennett. James Herman Soloman became Jimmie Reese.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 04, 2021 at 11:59 AM | 0 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: jewish baseball players

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