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Friday, March 26, 2021

Longing for a Shot at the Majors, but Sitting Out the Sabbath

Elie Kligman is a switch-hitter with power. He has pitched no-hitters and immaculate innings, and he can snatch the ball with cool precision from any spot in the infield. He is a star in every way at Cimarron-Memorial High School in Las Vegas, with dreams of reaching even greater heights.

He is also shomer Shabbat, meaning he observes the strict rules of the Jewish sabbath and cannot — and will not — play ball on Friday nights or Saturday afternoons before the sun goes down.

Based on talent and desire, Kligman is good enough to realistically entertain his dream of playing Major League Baseball, or at least top level college ball. But he knows his devotion to his faith could shatter that dream before it starts, and he is ready to accept that.

And even if a big league team were to offer Kligman a $10 million signing bonus, with the promise that he would be playing in front of 40,000 people later this summer - provided he agrees to play on the sabbath - he insists he woul stand firm in his conviction.

“No,” Kligman said when asked if he could be enticed to break his religious obligations. “That day of Shabbas is for God. I’m not going to change that.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 26, 2021 at 09:41 AM | 26 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: jewish baseball players

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   1. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: March 26, 2021 at 09:53 AM (#6010218)
If he's a pitcher that becomes a hell of a lot easier to manage for a team. If he's going to be a hitter it definitely limits him a bit but even then. Five days a week (plus some Saturday nights) isn't terrible. Not everyone plays 155 games a year.
   2. Der-K's emotional investment is way up Posted: March 26, 2021 at 10:21 AM (#6010223)
1) he's not getting a $10m bonus; he's perfect game's #14 prospect in nevada.
2) looks like probably a position player, but too early to rule out pitching. only a low 80s fastball as of now.
3) path looks like finding a college that will work with him and ... maybe becoming a utility guy? his plan is to catch, as they need regular rest anyway - that's a decent idea.
   3. SoSH U at work Posted: March 26, 2021 at 10:22 AM (#6010224)
Five days a week (plus some Saturday nights) isn't terrible.


That would be fascinating from a scheduling standpoint if he were a star. His team would make sure to schedule all Saturday games at night and his opponents might schedule more Saturday day games.
   4. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: March 26, 2021 at 10:55 AM (#6010231)
His team would make sure to schedule all Saturday games at night and his opponents might schedule more Saturday day games.


Do teams have input on when the game is played?
   5. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: March 26, 2021 at 11:05 AM (#6010236)
In the world of Load Management, this isn't a big deal.

   6. Astroenteritis Posted: March 26, 2021 at 11:24 AM (#6010240)
Oh, if he's good enough a team can certainly work around this, and if as #2 points out, he becomes a catcher it could work out, although Friday night-Saturday afternoon combos would be challenging for the back up.
   7. SoSH U at work Posted: March 26, 2021 at 11:28 AM (#6010242)
Do teams have input on when the game is played?


I believe they have input on the time (other than when travel is involved, which isn't an issue on Saturday), but not the date. But that might have changed in recent years.
   8. jmurph Posted: March 26, 2021 at 12:11 PM (#6010251)
Outrageous lack of Lebowski references so far.
   9. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 26, 2021 at 12:46 PM (#6010262)
I think it's an admirable stance, but unless he's really, really good, I have to think this is going to severely limit his chances. Teams are not gonna want to deal with the hassle for just another guy. If he has star level talent, that's another story.
   10. Tom Nawrocki Posted: March 26, 2021 at 01:02 PM (#6010266)
The Brewers had a hot prospect named Dan Thomas in the 1970s in a similar situation. He wasn't Jewish but his religion forbade him from playing on the Sabbath. He was quite a good hitter (.274/.363/.457 for his career, which was a 134 OPS+), but since he was missing a game or two every week, the Brewers got frustrated and sent him down. Thomas thought he was being punished for his religious beliefs, refused the demotion, and left the team. His major league career was over after 200 plate appearances.

The story has an even worse ending: Thomas ended up hanging himself in jail before he turned 30.
   11. Howie Menckel Posted: March 26, 2021 at 01:12 PM (#6010268)
I remember Thomas.

BB-REF has his nickname as "Sundown Kid," which is.. unfortunate.

was in a 1977 Topps Rookie OFs card with Jack Clark, Ruppert Jones, and Lee Mazzilli.

the quartet collected 4045 hits - Clark 1826, Jones 1103, Mazzilli 1068, Thomas 48.

Thomas's contributions put them over an average of 1000 hits apiece.

there are a couple of autographed card versions and sellers want $5,000 bucks for 'em.

now, Mazzilli was known as the Italian Stallion and he had a large female following but...

:)
:(
   12. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 26, 2021 at 01:33 PM (#6010272)
How respectful do you think his teammates/manager/coaching staff would be? Say he comes up as a good hitter, and his team has used its whole bench (both of 'em!) in extras in a key Friday night game. Runners on, a hit would win it, but the pitcher is due up...you think no one would have a problem with him not being willing to pinch hit? Would he even be in the dugout, or would he have to remain at home/hotel?
   13. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 26, 2021 at 01:36 PM (#6010274)
Would he even be in the dugout, or would he have to remain at home/hotel?

If he's serious about the Sabbath, he shouldn't even be there. I don't think observant Jews attend baseball games on Friday night.
   14. The Gary DiSarcina Fan Club (JAHV) Posted: March 26, 2021 at 02:09 PM (#6010279)
Please forgive me for being ignorant on the matter, but does the actual time of sunset govern when he would be able to play again? If so, he would also be potentially more valuable to a southern team where the days are shorter in the summer. In LA, for example, sunset is 7:10 pm right now, and while it will get later, it won't be nearly as late as Seattle or Minneapolis. Saturday night games are more in play at lower latitudes.

However, it still won't be that helpful since he presumably wouldn't be able to get to the field and do any sort of warmup prior to sunset on Saturday, so he's still looking at being a late inning replacement. The Cubs still play more weekday day games than any other team; if they could schedule as many Friday day games as possible, that would be the ideal spot.
   15. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 26, 2021 at 02:37 PM (#6010282)
Please forgive me for being ignorant on the matter, but does the actual time of sunset govern when he would be able to play again?

From what I have observed, actual sunset matters. Observant Jews often leave work early on Fridays in the winter, but not it the summer.
   16. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 26, 2021 at 02:43 PM (#6010284)
The Cubs still play more weekday day games than any other team; if they could schedule as many Friday day games as possible, that would be the ideal spot.
They've been pushing for more weekend night games for years (the city just recently started allowing them) for more profits as the Ricketts have bought up the surrounding neighborhood. I doubt they would reverse that for one player, no matter how good.
   17. Karl from NY Posted: March 26, 2021 at 02:49 PM (#6010287)
Teams have at least some input on scheduling dates. Boston plays at home on the Patriots Day holiday, for example. The Mets go on the road during the tennis US Open. Teams also work around football schedules in shared complexes (although the NFL schedule always comes out after MLB's), plus things like concerts and Papal masses.

What such a team would want is more weekend home series, that's required as the first step to be able to play around with Friday afternoon / Saturday night flips. I don't know if they could get that to fly, though. Does the schedule try to balance home vs road weekends in general?

#14: It's the actual time of sunset, and actually something that matters even more than north-south latitude is east-west position within a time zone. Sunset is an hour later in Cincinnati than in Boston despite nominally being the same time zone.
   18. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: March 26, 2021 at 03:06 PM (#6010294)

Yeah, I'm not an expert, but it's hard to imagine he'd be available for any games on Saturday unless his team makes accommodations with regard to the normal pre-game routine.
   19. SABRJoe Posted: March 26, 2021 at 03:08 PM (#6010295)
Outrageous lack of Lebowski references so far.

Or Curb Your Enthusiasm.
   20. RJ in TO Posted: March 26, 2021 at 03:27 PM (#6010297)
The story has an even worse ending: Thomas ended up hanging himself in jail before he turned 30.
The story has an even worse middle, relating to how he ended up in jail.
   21. Jesus Luzardo Maraschino Posted: March 26, 2021 at 03:31 PM (#6010299)
Three thousand years of beautiful tradition, from Moses to Sandy Koufax...
   22. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 26, 2021 at 03:44 PM (#6010300)
The story has an even worse middle, relating to how he ended up in jail.

Yeesh, raping a 12 y.o. That's evil.
   23. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: March 26, 2021 at 03:51 PM (#6010302)
Would he even be in the dugout, or would he have to remain at home/hotel?


I assume he wouldn't even be at the ballpark.
   24. The Yankee Clapper Posted: March 26, 2021 at 03:51 PM (#6010303)
If he's a pitcher that becomes a hell of a lot easier to manage for a team.
Looks like the kid has what may be a pretty good plan. From TFA:
Of all the characteristics that determine where players are positioned on the baseball field — athleticism, power and whether a player is left- or right-handed — religion has rarely, if ever, been a factor. But as random as it may sound, Kligman’s devout Judaism is the reason he is now concentrating on catching. Owing to the physical and mental strain of the position, catchers are given regular days off during the week. In the professional ranks, it is often one of the weekend afternoon games — potentially an adaptable fit for Kligman.
Might work, and someone should give him a shot if he’s good enough. The problem is that catchers are still expected to back up the other catcher if there is an injury, so a team would need an acceptable emergency catcher.
   25. JL72 Posted: March 26, 2021 at 03:52 PM (#6010304)
I wonder if travel will ever be an issue. Most weekend series are a Friday-Sunday, so it shouldn't be a big problem. But there is some occasional travel on a Friday that could get complicated.
   26. The Gary DiSarcina Fan Club (JAHV) Posted: March 26, 2021 at 05:43 PM (#6010327)
What such a team would want is more weekend home series, that's required as the first step to be able to play around with Friday afternoon / Saturday night flips. I don't know if they could get that to fly, though. Does the schedule try to balance home vs road weekends in general?


The short answer is yes, in that ALL teams want weekend home series and owners would get pretty rancorous if one team got more than their share of weekend home dates.

But the reason I mentioned the Cubs is because no other team I know of holds Friday afternoon games. As far as I know, those aren't even allowed under the CBA if the visiting team had a game in a different city the day before. I think it's only possible if the teams are playing a Thursday - Sunday series or if the visiting team played last on Wednesday and had Thursday off as a travel day. Those situations aren't rare, but I can't imagine most teams would give up a normal Friday night gate to accommodate one player.

Edited for clarity.

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