Monday, August 15, 2005

3 Jews on the field at once!

In what may have been a baseball first, the Boston Red Sox had no fewer than three Jewish players on the field at once in their August 8 victory over the Texas Rangers.

At the top of the game's ninth inning, Gabe Kapler was in left field, Adam Stern in right and Kevin Youkilis at third base.

"It's conceivable that this is the first time this has ever happened," said Martin Abramowitz, president of Jewish Major Leaguers, a Boston-based nonprofit that tracks Jewish contributions to baseball history.

The group, which in 2003 published a set of baseball cards devoted to the 142 Jews who've played in the Major Leagues since the 1870s, is planning to produce a card commemorating the August 8 game.

Though there have been at least seven or eight "twofers," Abramowitz said, baseball threesomes have proved far more elusive. Though a number of teams have had three or more Jews on their rosters (the 1946 New York Giants had five), the Red Sox may have been the first to field three at once.

According to Abramowitz, it was the Los Angeles Dodgers of the late 1950s and early '60s that played host to baseball's longest-lived Jewish trio, Sandy Koufax and brothers Larry and Norm Sherry, but since Koufax and Larry Sherry were both pitchers, it would have been impossible for them both to have played at the same time.

But despite its rareness, Abramowitz is not terribly surprised by the development.

"It's the law of averages," he said. "It had to happen at some point."

Asked if the defending champion Red Sox, which have a Jewish general manager (Theo Epstein), can be regarded as a "Jewish team," Abramowitz hesitated.

"The Sox are a great team," he said. "They're driven by questions of talent and winning, and that's as it should be."

But Abramowitz, a onetime Yankees fan who now roots for the Red Sox, wasn't really in the mood to entertain lofty question like "Why the Red Sox?" and "Why now?" He had work to do.

"Further research is required," he said. "I haven't had the chance to go through all the box scores yet."

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