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Baseball Can Handle Orthodox Jewish Players If They Reach the Big Leagues. Here’s Why.

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(JTA) — The Arizona Diamondbacks made baseball history Monday when they made Jacob Steinmetz, a 17-year-old right-handed pitcher from Woodmere, New York, their third round pick in the Major League Baseball draft.

Steinmetz, who lists at 6-feet-5 and 220 pounds, is the first Orthodox Jewish player to be selected in baseball’s annual talent hunt, which dates back to 1965. The media made a big deal that he “keeps the Sabbath and eats only kosher food,” although the teen does play on Shabbat and holidays — he walks to the fields in those situations.

The next day, the Washington Nationals selected college prospect Elie Kligman as their final and 20th round pick, making the Las Vegas player the second Orthodox player to be drafted. Kligman, 18, won’t play on Shabbat, as the Jewish Telegraphic Agency noted.

It’s uncharted territory for Orthodox Jewish players and Major League Baseball. Eleven players who identify as Jewish have appeared in at least one major league game this season and none would consider himself “observant” in the traditional sense. The group includes pitcher Dean Kremer of the Baltimore Orioles, the first Israeli to be drafted.

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To find an observant Jewish ballplayer, you need to consult a 2015 novel, “The Season of Pepsi Meyers” by Abie Rotenberg, in which the New York Yankees sign........

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