This is the time of year we are commanded to take stock of ourselves and to make an introspective inventory of what we did well and what offenses we may have committed (knowingly or unknowingly) in preparation for being written in the book of life for another year at Yom Kippur and thereby given another chance to do better.
Caught up in the exciting season the Orioles are having, I wondered if there could be a purposeful connection between baseball and our High Holidays. The rebuilding efforts of the O’s are not much different than our personal aspirations to remodel and improve. We want to score more home runs each year, as an individual and for the benefit of the larger community team in areas of improved health, prosperity, education and peace, culminating in a final display of winning stats during the holy month of Elul.
If baseball’s concluding seasons coincide with our High Holidays, then is it not reasonable to assume that there is a reciprocal benefit; thusly, Jews have made baseball better, and baseball has made Jews better?
Turns out, the first designated hitter in the game was a Jew — Ron Blomberg who played for the Yankees and came to the DH position, hitting for the pitcher, on Erev Rosh Hashana in 1971. It was the bottom of the 9th inning with the game tied 2-2, the Yankees against Cleveland. Blomberg at bat. Runner on second base. The Cleveland outfield tightens up for infield action. Blomberg hits deep to center field and the crowd goes wild as the Yankees’ runner takes off for home plate scoring the winning run. The Yankees won that day and history was made — Erev Rosh Hashana was saved.
The O’s are currently producing exciting stats only after careful consideration of having missed the mark for several seasons and are on track, with further adjustments, for an even better 2023 season (”Orioles tally 15 hits but can’t keep up with Red Sox in 13-9 loss as playoff chances take a hit with 8 to play,” Sept. 27). Little improvements can make a big difference in the game of life as well. Try something new or different in the coming year that will improve your stats. In baseball, if your hitting .300, you’re a star, yet you’re only hitting three out of 10 times at bat. Keep swinging.
Now for the stats on how we made baseball better: There are by my count 21 current active Jewish baseball players in Major League Baseball, including Dean Kremer of the Orioles. There are 30 current and former Jewish baseball executives and owners including Jerry Hoffberger of the O’s and Commissioner Bud Selig. There are 178 Jewish former players and coaches including Moshe “The Rabbi of Swat” Solomon (1923).
Ah, time for a hot dog (kosher, of course). Shana Tova (Happy New Year). Go O’s,
— Abe Wasserberger, Baltimore
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