Growing up as a Jewish, well half-Jewish (on my mother’s side, so I am legit) kid in New York, my dream of playing in the major leagues was just that—a dream. After all, not only was I not good enough, but being Jewish certainly limited my chances.
Sure we have had Sandy Koufax, Hank Greenberg, Al Rosen, Shawn Green and the legendary Morrie Arnovich (played with the Phillies, Reds, and New York Giants in the late 30s). But the reality is, if I wanted to be an accountant or work in the entertainment industry, I would be in like Flynn.
A baseball player? Not so much.
Baseball is more of a world game now than ever before. Us fans of the Dreidel need our roles models and inspirations in baseball. If Italy can have a team in the World Baseball Classic, why can’t Israel?
That being said, here are the top five Jewish players in the game of baseball today.
Honorable Mention: Craig Breslow, Scott Feldman, Gabe Kapler, Scott Schoeneweis and John Grabow.
5. Brad Ausmus: Ausmus is at the end of his career with the Dodgers, but in his prime he was one of the best defensive catchers in baseball with the Astros. Ausmus has won three Gold Gloves and was an All Star in 1999 as a member of the Detroit Tigers.
Ausmus was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 48th round of the 1987 Draft, and was the starting catcher for the Houston Atros team that made the World Series in 2005.
4. Jason Marquis: Heading into Sunday’s action, Marquis was tied for the National League lead in wins with eight. Marquis has his best season in 2004 with the St. Louis Cardinals, when he was 15-7 with a 3.71 ERA.
Marquis has spent 10 years in the major leagues and has an 87-74 lifetime record with the Atlanta Braves, St Louis Cardinals, Chicago Cubs and, currently, the Colorado Rockies.
3. Ian Kinsler: In only his fourth year in the major leagues, Kinsler has established himself as not only one of the top second basemen in baseball, but one of the best players in all of baseball.
The former University of Missouri star enjoyed a breakout 2008 season when he hit .319 with 18 HRs, 71 RBI, 102 runs scored and 26 SBs in just 121 games.
Kinsler earned a spot in the All-Star game in 2008 and is expected to do the same in 2009.
2. Kevin Youkilis: If it were not for his teammate Dustin Pedroia, Youkilis might have won the American League MVP award last year. Youkilis, or “The Greek God of Walks” as he was referred to by A’s GM Billy Beane in the book Moneyball, is one of the best players in baseball.
Known for his intensity on the playing field, Youkilis was an All-Star in 2008, won a Gold Glove in 2007 and is a lifetime .333 hitter in the postseason. Youkilis also helped the Red Sox to a World Series title in 2007.
1. Ryan Braun: If Braun continues on the pace he set for himself in his first three years in the majors, Braun will go down as one of the all-time greats in the game. Braun has averaged 35 HRs, 100 RBI, 15 SBs and a .305 batting average in his first two years in the majors.
Braun was named Rookie of the Year in 2007, won a Silver Slugger award, and finished third in the MVP voting in 2008.
Braun also played for the U.S. team in the World Baseball Classic.