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Jewish Baseball Community Reflects Community-at-Large

We’ve chronicled in the past how the recent trend in the Jewish community has resulted in a situation where children of intermarried couples are “the coming majority.” The rise in interfaith couples has caused us to reach a tipping point whereby the number of intermarried households has managed to match (or in some communities even exceed) the number of those that are inmarried. The explanation for this statistical phenomenon is simple mathematics: it takes one Jewish person to create an intermarried household, while it takes two to create an inmarried one.

We could very well ruminate on this data only in the theoretical realm, but it can be even more enlightening to see how things play out in the real world. An interesting (and topical, with Opening Day right around the corner) example is the case of the ten major league baseball players expected to be on MLB rosters when the season begins on April 1st.

As you can see in this article by columnist Nate Bloom, the “coming majority” is already here (at least in the baseball world), at a ratio of six to four. Bloom explains:

Suiting up for the 2007 season are four major league players with two Jewish parents: Kevin Youkilis (Boston Red Sox); Jason Hirsch (Colorado Rockies); Jason Marquis (Chicago Cubs) and Shawn Green (New York Mets).

The other Jewish major league players all have one Jewish parent: Mike Lieberthal (Los Angeles Dodgers); Brad Ausmus (Astros); Scott Schoeneweis (Mets); Scott Feldman and Ian Kinsler (Texas Rangers) and John Grabow (Pittsburgh Pirates).

The article’s data comes from a print publication known as the Jewish Sports Review. The Review keeps a list of “who is Jewish” in baseball as well as other sports, and until recently tracked whether a player from an interfaith family had a Jewish mother or father. Does this move away from noting from which parent a person received their Jewish heritage signal a larger shift toward a community more accepting of the idea of patrilineal descent? While this is just an isolated example, it is always encouraging to see an accepting, welcoming attitude toward Jewish identity, especially because the Jewish Sports Review actually contacts the individual players to make sure they self-identify as Jewish before they are listed.



15 Comments

  1. OK; so are any of them Bar Mitzvah’ed? Do any of them practice or belong to a congregation? Set foot in a Temple or shul?
    Shawn green of the Mets ‘observed’ YK last week by staying in his hotel room on Friday night and fasting,and of all those on the list, was he the only one? Shawn was not Bar Mitzvah’ed; doesn’t go to temple; etc. There used to be ‘cute’ stories in the press abt how he’d get invited to fans’ Bar Mitzvah’s when he played in Toronto. Does anyone know if any of the other players, not including David newhan, also a Met (born Jewish but found Jesus in the minors, a Mets reporter wrote during Spring training), observe in any way or are they simply Jews by birth of one or both parents? (BTW, at one point this season, the Mets had more Jewish players (Green, Schoenweis, Newhan) than African American players!

    Comment by howard — September 23, 2007 @ 7:59 pm

  2. Hi Howard,

    Thanks for your comment. In this day and age, I’m not sure synagogue attendance should be the primary measurement we use for Jewish identity. The fact that some Jewish ballplayers take off on the High Holidays has always fascinated Jews because it’s about pride in identity — it could all be cultural rather than religious pride, but I don’t think that lessens it. I don’t know whether Hank Greenberg or Sandy Kofax had bar mitzvot either, but that doesn’t change their stature in my eyes as Jewish athletic heroes. (They’re not Ben-Gurion or Einstein, of course; it’s just baseball, but still…)

    Plenty of non-famous Jewish people went to work at their regular jobs this past Rosh Hashanah (and would have on Yom Kippur too if it wasn’t on a Saturday). Especial Jews in the very age-range of these players, unmarried 20-somethings, which is a traditional drop-off period from organized Jewish life. Perhaps because the community applauds these ballplayers for the Jewish pride they’ve shown, the ballplayers will be more interested in exploring the Jewish community once they have more time, like after retirement at the ripe old age of 36 or so. ;)

    ps - interesting point about the Mets. Also note the Red Sox Jewish players led to this hysterical tirade by Dennis Leary against Mel Gibson during a Red Sox game last year.

    Thanks again…

    Comment by Paul Golin — September 24, 2007 @ 2:14 pm

  3. Lou Boudreau’s mother was a customer of mine in the 1950’s. Her first name was Birdie(I’m not sure that was her real name). I noticed on the baseball card that I gave my grandson, the update shows Lou Boudreau as being Jewish. Doe’s anyone know his mom’s maiden name. That might prove interesting.
    Alan Kadet

    Comment by Alan Kadet — October 24, 2007 @ 11:44 am

  4. Birdie’s maiden name was Rothenberger. Had a sister by the name of Hazel, who also lived in Harvey.

    Shalom

    Comment by Lou Boudreau (Jr.) — December 26, 2007 @ 5:10 pm

  5. Why do many sites say that Birdie’s maiden name was Henry? Also, has anyone heard of an Orville Boudreau? I believe he was Louis Boudreau, Sr.’s cousin. He was also my great-grandfather. My mom says that Orville was Jewish, and I’m wondering if anyone knows whether the Boudreau family was indeed Jewish?

    Comment by Rachel — January 2, 2009 @ 3:44 pm

  6. I think that it’s very possible that many of the French who came to Canada in the 1600’s were of Jewish ancestry. Look at the places they came from, La Rochelle & Alsace,etc. DNA projects are unearthing some very interesting stuff. Perhaps some of these families were “crypto” until they reached the new world?

    Comment by Guz — January 6, 2009 @ 9:14 am

  7. I’m looking to find Lou Boudreau Jr. who I met some time ago on a Tucson Shuttle from Phoenix to Tucson.

    I see he posted a comment here …so Lou if you are out there/ or anyone knows where to find him …please respond to Dr. Ed Anhalt at dreduardoa@yahoo.com

    Sincerely,

    Ed

    Comment by Dr. Ed Anhalt — January 24, 2009 @ 11:31 am

  8. NO BODY MENTIONS RICHIE SCHEINBLUM. BOTH PARENTS WERE JEWISH AND HE MADE THE ALL STAR TEAM IN 72 FOR THE K.C. ROYALS. HE ALSO BATTED 328 FOR THE ANGELS

    Comment by MICHAEL — March 30, 2009 @ 4:17 pm

  9. Lou Boudreau’s mother was my grandmother’s sister. Their maiden name was Henry (buty it was changed from something else). Her parents were Prussian Jew and are buried in B’Nai Brith Cemetery in Chicago. His grandparents names were Henry Henry (for real) and Sophie Pinkus Henry. They were both Jewish. Henry Henry was born in England (per the 1880 census) and Sophie was born in Prussia (but family lore put it at St. Petersburg which was East Prussia at the time). I aunts are dead but talked of Birdie. In my notes somewhere I have the real name.

    Comment by Hawley — March 19, 2010 @ 7:51 pm

  10. Here’s the family of Birdie Henry (mother of Lou Boudreau): My Grandmother was Rachel

    Henry HENRY Self M Male W 29 ENG Slipper Maker PRUSSIA PRUSSIA
    Sophia HENRY Wife M Female W 31 POL Keeping House POL POL
    Charles H. HENRY Son S Male W 9 NY Attending School ENG POL
    Rose HENRY Dau S Female W 9 NY Attending School ENG POL
    Sarah HENRY Dau S Female W 6 NY Attending School ENG POL
    Dora HENRY Dau S Female W 4 NY At Home ENG POL
    Rachel HENRY Dau S Female W 2 NY At Home ENG POL
    Phoebe HENRY Dau S Female W 4M NY At Home ENG POL

    Comment by Hawley — September 9, 2010 @ 11:16 am

  11. I’m looking to find Lou Boudreau Jr. who I met some time ago on a Tucson Shuttle from Phoenix to Tucson.

    I see he posted a comment here …so Lou if you are out there/ or anyone knows where to find him …please respond to Dr. Ed Anhalt at dreduardoa@yahoo.com

    Sincerely,

    Ed Anhalt

    Comment by Dr. Ed Anhalt — December 15, 2010 @ 11:11 am

  12. Rachel and Hawley are absolutely correct. Birdie’s last name was Henry. Was her sister Hazel? What was Hazel’s last name?

    Comment by Lou Boudreau, Jr. — February 11, 2011 @ 6:57 pm

  13. I found this blog by accident and just wanted to say “hello” from a classmate at Whittier School in Harvey. I am so happy to see how well you have done from such a ’small town’. Thank you for your military service, I’m so glad that you survived to go on have such a great life.

    Comment by Barbara Eisenberg — November 28, 2011 @ 11:47 am

  14. Lou, I don’t know Hazel’s last name but remember my cousin talking about her. I left you a message at LinkedIn.

    Comment by Hawley — February 6, 2012 @ 9:38 am

  15. Lou Boudreau was my Great Great Unlce. His nephew Frank Boudreau was my grandfather. So some how we are related.

    Comment by Katie Crowley — July 5, 2012 @ 11:41 am

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